Update: How Grand Theft Auto Measures Up In Pop Culture History

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The long-awaited latest installment of the Take-Two’s (TTWO) Grand Theft Auto franchise hit stores April 29 and is expected to bring in record breaking sales.

Sales of Grand Theft Auto IV could reach $400 million by the end of the week, according to reports. That would smash the record setting $300 million earned by last year's top game, Halo 3 (MSFT).

To date the 11-year-old video game has sold more than 70 million copies worldwide, making it one of the highest selling video game franchises ever. And, with more pop culture goodies than ever (like a surprise appearance by a virtual Ricky Gervais) this latest addition could drive GTA to the top game earner's spot.

Check out how the GTA franchise measures up against some of pop cultures greatest record breakers:

TITANIC

1997’s blockbuster, Titanic brought in $1.8 billion in worldwide box office sales, making it the highest-grossing film of all time. GTA will have to sell 28 million copies to steam past Titanic.

BARBIE

Mattel (MAT) has sold more than an estimated 1 billion of its fashion doll, Barbie, worldwide since her creation in 1959. If GTA, which first went on sale in 1997, maintains its rate of sales for the next 38 years, it will sell approximately 242 million more copies, reaching about 33% of Barbie’s 49-year sales volume.

iTUNES

As of January 9, 2008 Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes had sold more than 4 billion songs, surpassing Wal-Mart (WMT) as America’s number one music store. GTA IV will have a hard time competing with iTunes’ record but they have set a music record of their own. It is the first game to allow players to tag songs for purchase online and offers the largest soundtrack of any video game with over 200 songs and 18 game-based radio stations (one of which features purely original music by artists such as Busta Rhymes).

AMERICAN IDOL

More people voted in the American Idol (NWS) season 6 finale then did in the last presidential election. According to Telescope, the show brought in approximately 580 million votes. Seeing as it "only" takes someone approximately 50 hours to watch an entire season of American Idol, while the hours of playing GTA are infinite, guess who is the winner here? (At least by these numbers.)

Wondering who and what else in pop culture counts their fans in the multi-millions? Check out a few more of the biggest draws:

SUPER BOWL XLII

97.5 million people tuned in to Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants in February 2008. It was the most watched Super Bowl to date.

M*A*S*H

Some 106 million viewers (more than 77% of television viewership that night) tuned into Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen, the 1983 series finale of the CBS (CBS) classic war comedy.

THE MONGOLIAN COW SOUR YOGURT SUPER GIRL CONTEST

In August 2005, 400 million Chinese fans watched the televised finale of the Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest. The show, China's version of American Idol (NWS), crowned Li Yuchun the winner that year.

ELVIS PRESLEY

The 'King' of rock 'n roll is arguably the world's best selling artist of all time with an estimated $1 billion records sold (and counting).

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