VHS Phantom Menace Takes Off Like a Rocket

Star Wars fans might prefer to watch Episode 1—The Phantom Menace on DVD, but they aren't saying "no" to the videotape version. More than 5 million copies of the VHS version were snapped up within 48 hours after the tape went on sale April 4, accounting for almost $100 million in retail sales. The 133-minute film, which debuted last year, reached #2 in all-time box-office statistics.

One of every 10 copies sold of The Phantom Menace within the first two days was a "Special Widescreen Video Collector's Edition," with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, a strip of 35mm film from an original theatrical print, and a 48-page collector's book. A total of 1.5 million "Collector's Editions" were produced; all were expected to sell out within the week.

The launch of Episode I on videotape was exceptionally well-orchestrated, taking place worldwide within a single week—a first for the video industry.