Retailers across the country received widespread press coverage of their promotional and merchandising efforts for the "Titanic" video release.
Stories highlighted the many chains that started selling product at 12:01 a.m. on the "Titanic" Sept. 1 street date and the hordes of customers who showed up. For example, it was reported that Best Buy, Minneapolis, sold 50,000 copies between 12:01 a.m. and 2 a.m. in 276 of its 289 stores, giving away a free calendar with the video.
"Everybody has a gimmick," Jim Stich, a Lexington, Ky., store director for Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., was quoted as saying. Meijer was giving away T-shirts and reprints of the Boston Globe edition from the day Titanic sank. "Everyone has an 'exclusive' promotion and they're all different exclusives. It just depends on what you are interested in," he said.
Meijer in Saginaw, Mich., was selling "Titanic" at 12:01 a.m. and the lines were long for the free T-shirts. "We had people stretching from the checkouts to the milk coolers," Sherry A. Tomczak, a fashion line area team leader was quoted as saying in a press report. "When I came in this morning, the night manager told me we were out of T-shirts in five minutes -- we had enough for the first 100 customers -- and could have given away a couple hundred more," she said.
At an Albertson's in Waco, Texas, about 200 people had bought "Titanic" by 5 p.m. on the street date. "It has gone every bit as well as we had hoped," said Gabby Zarecor, assistant drug manager. "A lot of people buying it have seen it and want it for their personal collection," he said.
A Giant Eagle store in North Huntingdon, Pa., had just 20 copies left by 7:15 p.m. on the street date, according to a clerk in the large Iggle Entertainment department there. "There were a few lines. Sales have really been brisk all day," said the clerk.
Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., had a live broadcast of Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on the eve of the video release.
Stores of Blockbuster Entertainment, Dallas, stayed open past midnight and drew customer attention with things like ice sculptures in the shape of Titanic, radio and television remotes and string quartets like the one in the movie.
Stores of Hollywood Entertainment, Portland, Ore., also stayed open past midnight, and the first 25 customers to buy or rent the title were offered a free, previously viewed copy, to be made available Oct. 1.
The on-line retailer Reel.com, Emeryville, Calif., sold more than 200,000 copies -- a record for on-line video sales -- at loss-leader pricing of $9.99.
Borders, Ann Arbor, Mich., offered a free replica of the "Heart of the Ocean" necklace in the movie to the first 75 customers to purchase the video in its stores.