'Mermaid' DVD sells 4 mil copies in week


Seventeen years after its theatrical debut, Walt Disney's "The Little Mermaid" last week made a big splash on DVD. The two-disc Platinum Edition of the animated classic, which hasn't been available on DVD in seven years, sold more than 4 million units its first week in stores, Disney reports, making it the top animated October DVD debut ever.

" 'The Little Mermaid' is one of the treasures of the Disney vault, and it is wonderful to see so many of our consumers respond to this long-awaited release," said Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek.

He noted that the film's DVD debut was bigger than any previous Platinum Edition release, an elite club that includes such classics as "Bambi," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King."

Chapek said the sales success "also presents strong evidence that DVD and the digital space can co-exist in a healthy and dynamic environment ... and that is good for the industry overall."

The fact that "Mermaid" could be bought for $12.99 on Apple's iTunes music store reportedly rankled Target Corp. and prompted the chain's president to send a letter to all the Hollywood studios, pressing for equitable pricing on DVDs.

Buena Vista on Tuesday also announced its next Platinum Edition DVD release will be "Peter Pan," coming in March 2007. The 1953 film has undergone an extensive digital restoration and features a new 5.1 home theater mix.

Bonus features on the two-disc edition ($29.99) include a never-before-seen alternate opening set in Neverland rather than the Darling family's home; three new multi-level games; a deleted song; an interview with Walt Disney on why he made "Peter Pan"; a making-of documentary; a storybook; and a preview of the new "Tinker Bell" movie.