Old VAs Pack Punch!
The Home Video release of "Sailor Moon SuperS: Black Dream Hole" (SuperS) did much better than anyone anticipated. The third animated feature has always been known as the weakest in both critical & financial terms. Even we up in the SOS Treehouse originally thought that we'd have to beg everyone to buy this release or it could sour the fans relationship with Pioneer Entertainment (and the future Home Video releases of the anime series).
Instead, Pioneer & Optimum pulled a rabbit out of the hat! For many fans, including most of us, the English Language version actually improved upon the original Japanese release (which was unbearable compared to the first 2 features). The Voice Artists & Post-Production crew seemed to effortlessly practice their craft and made their best adaptation yet!
Helping out was that for the first time, Optimum had stereo Music & Effects (M&E) tracks to work with. The first 2 features were released in mono in Japan; SuperS was released in stereo. In rebuilding the tracks, Optimum was able to make better use of the Japanese elements and mix them with the new stereo tracks. It was, hands down, the best mix out of Optimum yet and needs to be heard over a good Home Theater system to be completely enjoyed.
U.S. sales were buoyed by the loss of some of the Voice Artists in (what was concurrently airing) the "Sailor Moon S" television series on the Cartoon Network. Originally, it was expected that a broadcast of new episodes would discourage mass purchases of the last Home Video feature. Instead, the ratings seem to have suffered and fans bought the SuperS feature because they missed the old Voice Artists so much. However (and some of the companies involved maybe unaware of this), we found through some key stores that the new series acted as a publicity tool, sending old & new fans into searching for copies of the previously released "Sailor Moon R" & "Sailor Moon S" dubbed features.
Irwin Toys of Canada was to have had a promotional tie-in and seemed to have had a hand in delaying the release until August 15, 2000. Irwin wanted to include a card inside the DVD and VHS cases promoting their new, improved Sailor Moon toy line. But this did not take place and all we know is that the person at Irwin who was in charge of this is, "...no longer with the company."
Tracking the release in the United States & Canada was easy. According to the Cahners publication Video Business magazine, the VHS came in as follows:
Week Ending August 20, 2000
Week Ending August 27, 2000
Week Ending September 3, 2000
Week Ending September 10, 2000
And then the release dropped dramatically in position as Fall Releases crowded the field. But what's obvious is how long the feature remained fixed in the top 20 via strong early Online interest (Amazon.com) which was then taken over by a wider audience via retailers such as Blockbuster (and Sam Goody as we have been told).
Although selling well, the DVD was harder to follow but Pioneer assures us that it did very good. Other sources said that the DVD was selling much better than for the previous features and at percentages higher than the growing DVD market. Meanwhile, back in Japan, Toei seems to be going ahead with their plans to re-release ALL of it's Sailormoon titles to DVD.