'Babe' videos bring home bacon for MCA


LOS ANGELES -- Pigs can fly. If you don't believe it, just ask video retailers that are having trouble keeping "Babe" in stock.

Many retailers report that they have sold through their initial order of the MCA/Universal Home Video title, which was released March 19, and are quickly running through reserve inventory.

"We've sold more copies of 'Babe' in one week than we've sold of 'Pocahontas' in one month," says Tower Video's VP of video John Thrasher. "We're into massive reorders for 'Babe' on a daily basis."

Borders Books & Music buyer Patti Russo says she doubled the JTC chain's initial "Babe" buy and has sold through more than half.

"If I would have gone with my first order, we would have been through it in two or three days," says Ms. Russo. "I wouldn't call 'Babe' a 'Lion King,' but it's close."

Best Buy's video merchandise manager Joe Pagano says the chain has also sold through its initial order, plus 50 percent of its back-up inventory.

The 200-plus-store chain placed about 400 units per store at street date, Mr. Pagano says.

MCA senior vice president of sales and marketing Andrew Kairey won't disclose the initial shipment for "Babe," but one retail source says the supplier's national goal was 5.5 million units. However, published reports have stated that the title shipped more than 8 million units.

Sources also say that MCA has ordered an additional 500,000 units from its duplicator to keep up with retail demand. Mr. Kairey, however, would not confirm that figure.

Propelled by the massive publicity generated for the Academy Awards, held last Monday, "Babe" continues to ride the momentum despite winning only one Oscar for special effects. The film was nominated in seven categories, including best picture, but lost the top award to "Braveheart."

Besides extensive pre-Oscar hype, "Babe" got an additional on-air plug when host Whoopi Goldberg "interviewed" the talking pig in a comedy segment.

" 'Babe' has more appeal than just to kids and families," says Strawberries' director of sales promotion Paul Grasso. "It's a good movie that will stay strong for a while."

Pub Date: 3/30/96

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