In the next few weeks, Walt Disney will discover whether its magic touch extends to soundtracks as well as animated films. In May, 2 million copies of the soundtrack for Disney's latest cartoon feature, "The Lion King," went on sale around the country.
This is the largest initial shipment of a recording Disney has ever sent out. Although sales of Disney's "Aladdin" soundtrack didn't hit the 2 million mark until a full year after the movie was released, the company's sales department expects this shipment of "The Lion King" to last just 30 to 60 days. Disney also sent out a million copies of products related to the soundtrack, like sing-along, read-along and play-along cassette packages for children.The "Lion King" soundtrack is in department stores, toy stores, and Wal-Mart and K mart stores, as well as drugstores, grocery stores, bookstores and, of course, the Disney stores and theme parks, said Mark Jaffe, a vice president at Walt Disney Records. Jaffe called the blitz "the most extensive marketing and promotional effort we've ever put together."
The songs on the soundtrack were composed by Elton John and the lyricist Tim Rice. The recording includes two performances by John that aren't in the movie.
"The Lion King" won't be in theaters for another three weeks. Will anyone want to buy a soundtrack for a movie they haven't seen? By the end of the first week of release, Tower Records in Manhattan's Greenwich Village had only sold three copies, which hardly certifies it as a blockbuster.
"I bought it in a large amount initially expecting it to sell because the Elton John single is already out," said Lal Sarju, the store's soundtrack buyer, referring to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."
"But when the movie comes out, I expect to sell a couple hundred pieces a week."
Buyers at record and toy stores agree sales of the soundtrack will probably be sluggish until the movie opens, but they're hoping airplay and the pre-release hype will help.