Launch weekend sales of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the UK grossed more than the biggest-ever opening weekend for a movie launch in the UK, it has emerged.
Rockstar's controversial PS2 title sold an estimated 677,000 copies on its first two days on sale, according to Chart-Track figures extrapolated from its 6500-strong retail panel. With the game commanding an average sale price of around £35.45, Chart-Track has placed the total revenue generated by retailers at just over £24 million, beating the UK's biggest ever movie box office opening weekend of £23.88 million, set by Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban earlier this year*.
The feat is all the more remarkable given the relative cost price of the game, which at a recommended £39.99 is over three times the price of the average movie ticket or CD, and around double that of the average new release DVD. SimplyGames sales and marketing director Doug Bone described the feat as "a truly unparalleled success and one that we as a trade can take great pride in."
The force is with it
That Rockstar has managed to inspire such a vast quantity of consmers to rush out and buy an item selling for a relatively high price is unprecedented, with less people buying the lower-priced DVD box set of the Star Wars Trilogy - in itself a record sell-through for a DVD with around 550,000 sales in its opening weekend, albeit with an average sale price of around £30.
The next UK target for Rockstar is the all-time movie box office grossing figure held by Titanic, which currently stands at £69 million. For Rockstar to achieve that, it will have to go some - with unit sales of around two million at its current full price necessary to match the Leonardo Di Caprio weeper.
But with another six weeks to go until Christmas, and an ever-expanding PS2 installed base of over seven million boosted by the newly slimmed down model and a cheaper price point, it looks like an attainable goal - so long as Rockstar can keep pace with demand. Currently, rumblings within the retail community report that stock issues are causing big problems with widespread shortages experienced.
And what of the worldwide picture for San Andreas and Rockstar? As things stand, the game appears to be selling just as strongly everywhere else, and once sales data starts appearing we could be looking at one of home entertainment's biggest-ever grossing items, and a true benchmark for the games industry.
We contacted Rockstar for comment on this landmark piece of news, and expect to hear back later today - check back for an update.