The Top 10 Best Selling VHS Tapes of All Time
While the VHS tape was discontinued in 2006, its legacy lives on. Let's take a look back at the 10 bestsellers of all time.
Entering the United States market on August 23rd, 1977, the VHS tape changed the game for Hollywood. It allowed viewers to take the magic of the movies home with them for the first time ever at a somewhat affordable price. While The Sound of Music, Patton, and M*A*S*H* were the first American films ever to be released in the format, thousands upon thousands more would follow, creating an entire industry that has seen its ups and downs.
With A History of Violence reported to be the last big Hollywood film to be released on VHS in 2006, the formats' legacy lives on today in collector markets, with people itching for a piece of nostalgia. Let us therefore remember a simpler time, when the world wasn't distracted by smartphones, by looking back on the top 10 best-selling VHS tapes of all time.
Entering the list at number 10 is Disney's Cinderella. Released in theaters on February 15th, 1950, this was the 12th animated feature from the company, and it really helped turn things around at a time when the studio was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was met with critical acclaim, received three Academy Award nominations, and would go on to earn $4.28 million dollars at the box office, which in 1950 was a pretty big chunk of change.
The film, part of the Walt Disney Classics collection, would first be released to VHS on October 4th, 1988, offering a free lithograph reproduction for those that pre-ordered the tape. At the time, it was the biggest-selling VHS of all time before E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial took the top spot. Since then, several more releases have come to home video, but the original release went into moratorium in 1989.
Coming in at number nine is the 1995 smash hit, Pocahontas. Premiering in theaters on June 16th, 1995, this 33rd animated feature film from Disney was a smash hit, raking in $346.1 million dollars. Though it was criticized for its historical inaccuracies, it did earn two Academy Awards for Best Musical or Comedy Score, and Best Original Song.
When it was released to VHS on February 28th, 1996, Pocahontas was part of the Masterpiece Collection, and featured a documentary about the making of the film, as well as The Art of Pocahontas book, and some lithograph prints. Selling nine million copies in its first weekend, it was re-released as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection in 2000.
At number eight, we have the wildly successful movie, Toy Story, which was the first ever feature film to be entirely animated by computers. It was also the first feature film to be produced by Pixar Animation Studios, and would go on to earn $394 million dollars at the box office, and take home the Special Achievement Academy Award.
Released to VHS on October 29th, 1996, Toy Story's total rentals and sales would total $5.1 million dollars, enough to take the top spot away from Twister at the time. While it didn't include any special features, a re-release in 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection did include the bonus animated short film, Tin Toy.
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Number seven on the list is none other than sci-fi action classic, Independence Day, which was released to theaters on July 3rd, 1996. Earning a massive $817.4 million dollars at the box office, it was the highest-grossing film of the year, would take home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, and was considered a turning point at the time for what the Hollywood blockbuster could really be.
Upon its VHS home video release on November 22nd, 1996, Independence Day would become the best-selling live-action video at the time following a $30 million dollar marketing campaign. While it's seen several different releases since then on both DVD and Blu-ray, nothing will ever beat slipping that tape out of the case to watch some good ol' American justice being dished out to a bunch of space aliens. A far inferior sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, was released in 2016
Dancing its way onto the list at number six is Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which is the very first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It took in a total of $440.1 million dollars at the box office, and would spawn sequels, spin-offs, Broadway musicals, video games, and a live-action remake starring Emma Watson. Needless to say, it was a hit.
As for its VHS release on October 30th, 1992, Beauty and the Beast would prove to be as equally successful on the small screen, released as part of the Walt Disney Classics collection. While the original release would be placed on moratorium just six months later, it has since seen several more releases on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray.
Roaring its way to number five is the 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park. Based on the Michael Crichton novel, the film quickly became the highest-grossing movie of all time, beating the record held by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It would hold that spot for four years, before being sunk by Titanic. Winning three Academy Awards, it has since spawned sequels, comic books, video games, and a bunch of theme park rides.
First released to VHS on October 4th, 1994 in standard format, a re-release three years later would see a THX-certified widescreen version of the film hit stores. Since then, it's been released in various incarnations to DVD and Blu-ray, packaged with its sequels time and time again.
Related: Why Jurassic Park 1993 Is So Important Even 30 Years Later
Sailing its way into the number four spot on the list is the James Cameron smash hit, Titanic, which premiered in theaters on December 19th, 1997. Winning 11 Academy Awards and hauling in $1.84 billion dollars upon its initial worldwide release, it was the highest-grossing film of all time until another James Cameron film, Avatar, took the title in 2010.
After a $50 million dollar marketing campaign, Titanic was released to VHS on September 1st, 1998 in both widescreen and full-screen formats. There was also a deluxe box set released that featured a mounted filmstrip and six lithograph prints. With a runtime of three and a half hours, the film had to be split into two VHS tapes to preserve picture quality. Since then, the critically acclaimed film has been released several times in a variety of formats.
Premiering in theaters on February 4th, 1938, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Disney's first animated feature film. In 2008, it was named the greatest American animated film of all time by the American Film Institute, and has been preserved in the National Film Registry.
Released to VHS for the first time on October 28th, 1994, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first film in the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection, and rightfully so. The cultural significance of the movie cannot be denied, resulting in theme park rides, video games, Broadway shows, and an upcoming live-action release set for 2024, featuring Rachel Zegler as Snow White, and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen.
Swooshing into the number two spot on the list is Disney's 31st animated feature film, Aladdin, which hit theaters on November 11th, 1992. Winning two Academy Awards, the film is best remembered these days for the excellent performance of the late Robin Williams, who lent his voice talents to the Genie.
Released to VHS on September 29th, 1993 as part of the Walt Disney Classics collection, Aladdin sold 10.8 million copies in the first three days. Upon release of the Sega Genesis video game adaptation, the film sold a plethora of more copies in 1993, with the original release going into moratorium on April 30th, 1994. In 2019, a live-action remake was released, featuring Will Smith in the role of Genie.
Taking its rightful place at number one on the list is Disney's The Lion King, which was released theatrically on June 15th, 1994. Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and Matthew Broderick, The Lion King is still, to this day, the highest-grossing traditionally animated movie with a box office total of $968.5 million dollars. The winner of two Academy Awards, it is widely regarded as one of the best Disney movies of all time.
Released to VHS home video on March 3rd, 1995, The Lion King featured a preview of the then-upcoming film, Pocahontas. A deluxe edition was also released, featuring lithographs, an epigraph, concept art, a certificate of authenticity, and another tape that had The Making of the Lion King on it, which was a 30-minute TV special. While the original version went into moratorium in 1997, several versions have since been released. The film spawned an entire franchise, and in 2019 a CGI remake was released featuring the voice acting skills of Donald Glover, Seth Rogan, Beyoncé, John Oliver, and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa. It has since been reported that a prequel is in the works, set to be released in 2024.
James Melzer is a freelance writer and author with an addiction to '80s horror movies. When he's not dissecting film, he can be found in his favorite chair knitting socks, most likely with a cat curled up beside him.MOVIEWEB VIDEO OF THE DAY SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT Cinderella Pocahontas Toy Story Independence Day Beauty and the Beast Jurassic Park Titanic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Aladdin The Lion King