The 10 best-selling VHS tapes of all time

As the call for physical media once again reaches fever pitch in the digital age and the clamour to feel a movie in your hands before you watch it with your eyes, the desire to look back grows ever more prescient. While Christopher Nolan and his contemporaries have worked hard to ensure DVDs and Blu-Ray discs may offer a crystal-clear replica of the movie you see in cinemas, for many of us, the only way to truly lose yourself in a movie is via a VHS tape.

Video Home System tapes changed home entertainment in the late 20th century forever. Introduced in the 1970s, these magnetic tape-based cassettes became the primary format for recording and playing movies, TV shows, and personal videos. In essence, they brought the power of Hollywood and its cinemas into the homes of millions. Projectors were cast aside, and the simplicity of pushing a cartridge into a machine to watch your favourite movie showcased a convenience that would become the gold standard.

Despite the format’s obvious pitfalls – they were cumbersome, with entire rooms dedicated to housing your favourite movies. VHS tapes also possessed a far lower resolution than what would soon be developed and were susceptible to wear and tear. However, there is an analogue charm to the clacking of black plastic cassettes that is difficult to replace.

The boxy cartridges and the plastic cases that housed them never fail to deliver a smile to a millennial’s face, and one need only mention the idea of video rental to bring back floods of Friday night memories, rushing home with sweets to sit in front of the latest release. But, with the advent of the DVD in the late 1990s, VHS tapes began to fall out of favour, and digital releases reigned supreme. By the turn of the century, the format was obsolete.

For a while, however, it looked as if the reign of the VHS tape would last forever. In the 1990s, the format undoubtedly hit its peak, and many of the best-selling tapes in history were released at that time. In fact, eight of the top ten most popular tapes were from movies released in the 1990s, including Pocahontas and Independence Day.

Elsewhere in the top five are some mega-hits. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 epic Jurassic Park sold over 24million copies, while Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet breached 25million.

Making up the top three is the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1938, which enjoyed a similar resurgence to much of Disney’s historic collection after it was given a VHS makeover. The animator dominated the decade and completes the list, with 1992’s Aladdin coming in at number two with 30 million copies sold. The best-selling VHS tape of all time, though, is 1994’s global smash hit The Lion King, which sold over 32 million copies.

You can find the full list of the best-selling VHS tapes of all time below.

The 10 best-selling VHS tapes:

  1. The Lion King – 32,000,000
  2. Aladdin – 30,000,000
  3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 28,000,000
  4. Titanic – 25,000,000
  5. Jurassic Park – 24,000,000
  6. Beauty and the Beast – 22,000,000
  7. Independence Day – 22,000,000
  8. Toy Story – 21,000,000
  9. Pocahontas) – 17,100,000
  10. Cinderella – 17,000,000

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