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David Poland

By David Poland

The Per-Screen Scam

I am kinda sick of seeing screaming headlines/alerts about movies that are opening to “HUGE” per-screen averages at the end of the year… all the more absurd as studio-level wide release marketing budgets are leading to these HUGE exclusive openings.
I get it… I get it. But it is a scam and journalists should be saying so.
This weekend it is a $64,000 per-screen average – estimated, of course – for Revolutionary Road. That’s – get this – fewer than 350 tickets per screen than Frost/Nixon‘s HUGE opening. And what is all the box office maven buzz this week (coming, not surprisingly, from Rev Road HQ )? That Frost/Nixon is underperforming. (Not really fair… but another conversation.)
And then there are the pesky details… like I did the math and realized that Rev Road on 3 screens was mathematically incapable of grossing $64,000 per. Then I looked… it’s in three theaters… on 5 screens…. which really makes it $36,400 per… estimated.
The Top 10 per-screen launches this year until this weekend… and no, I have not yet checked for actual screen count for the others… I will as soon as I can.
Frost/Nixon – $180,708 – 3 – $60,236 – $2,659,000 – 12/5/08
The Wrestler – $202,714 – 4 – $50,679 – $648,000 – 12/17/08
Gran Torino – $271,720 – 6 – $45,287 – $2,619,000 – 12/12/08
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl – $220,297 – 5 – $44,059 – $17,657,973 – 6/20/08
Milk – $1,453,844 – 36 – $40,385 – $12,281,000 – 11/26/08
Slumdog Millionaire – $360,018 – 10 – $36,002 – $16,693,000 – 11/12/08
Doubt – $507,226 – 15 – $33,815 – $5,000,000 – 12/12/08
Changeling – $489,015 – 15 – $32,601 – $35,417,977 – 10/24/08
Rachel Getting Married – $293,369 – 9 – $32,597 – $9,785,033 – 10/3/08
Che – $61,070 – 2 – $30,535 – $108,961 – 12/12/08

4 Responses to “The Per-Screen Scam”

  1. T. Holly says:

    I can’t remember, didn’t Ed Douglas take up this cause last year?

  2. martin says:

    This is the boy who cried wolf. If the per-screens worked out to BIG wide release numbers almost every time, then it would make sense to proclaim success with big limited release numbers. But rarely does a limited-release “hit” turn out to be a REAL hit. Even with this PR scam of it being a hit before it’s actually a hit. A quality entertainment journalist should always have an * – “take these numbers with a grain of salt since this is a big budget Hollywood film on a very small number of screens. It may mean the film is popular, or it may mean nothing at all.”

  3. Hardy says:

    I usually hear per theater average instead of per screen average.

  4. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Hardy, you are correct.

Box Office

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