A Friday midnight release and mystery appearances by "Twilight’s" stars in several locations around the country sent Summit Entertainment’s "Twilight" DVD flying off the shelves this weekend.
By midnight Saturday, more than 3 million DVD units had been sold, according to Summit. That number puts the vampire-romance among the top five best first- day DVD releases — a list that includes "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," "The Dark Knight," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Transformers."
Thousands of fans lined up for hours outside Hot Topics, Wal-Marts and Borders across the country to catch a glimpse — and hopefully an autograph — of stars including Rachelle Lefevre, Ashley Greene, Edi Gathegi, Nikki Reed and director Catherine Hardwicke.
(Sorry girls, no Robert Pattinson or Kristen Stewart.)
The cast members were jetted out to secret locations on Friday. Hardwicke emailed TheWrap last night from a Borders in Dallas: "There are fans lined up around the block screaming for ‘Twilight’! All the dedicated fans in all their Twigear!"
Normally DVDs are released on Tuesdays to get shoppers into the stores on weekdays, which are typically slower than weekends. But the "Twilight" release had no trouble attracting an audience.
There was a plan to the madness. "Twilight’s" largely teenage audience would have been less likely to line up at midnight on a school night like Monday, said Matt Lasorsa, former executive vp marketing at New Line. He applauded the Summit plan: "Mixing up the marketing from a traditional release to doing something unique is a smart thing to do in this environment," he said.
In fact, "Twilight" could well be on its way to topping the sales of those films in their first week of release. "At World’s End" sold 8.4 million units its first week, "The Dark Knight" — last year’s fastest selling DVD — sold 6.8 million units and "Phoenix" and "Transformers" sold 6.9 million.
"The Saturday release in conjunction with the groundbreaking retail events across the country have proven to be overwhelmingly successful — which in turn benefited ‘Twilight’ fans as well as our retail partners," Summit co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger said in a joint statement.
According to Summit, Lefevre attracted the most fans — 2,500 at a Salt Lake City Wal-Mart. Another 2,000 attended Greene’s appearance at Hot Topic in Hollywood. Roughly 1,000 turned out for Hardwicke in Dallas, 700 lined up for Gathegi at a New York Borders and 500 turned out to see Reed at a Hot Topic in Chicago.
The franchise comes just in time for the sagging DVD market. Digital Entertainment Group reported DVD sales slumped 5 to 7 percent in 2008 and has remained low in ’09.
More help is on the way. And production begins Monday in Vancouver on the "Twilight" sequel, "New Moon."