By David Poland email@example.com
Weekend Estimates by Klady – 6/21/09
So… what does this mega-opening learn us, Jethro?
Well, Jed, investing personal ego in box office numbers is a fool’s errand.
They sell more hamburger than filet mignon in this world. And big sales – which is what opening weekend tickets are – defines neither. The Dark Knight and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are the same this weekend. And yet, the differences are obvious… and not so obvious.
It is human nature to want to be on the winning team… that’s always the “right” team. Except when it isn’t. The vanity of being “anti-big box office” or “anti-studio” or “anti-tentpole” is as dangerous a game as being “anti-art,” “anti-adult,” or “anti-intellectual.” We are not on teams. And life and art are more complicated than “scoreboard,” though it is in the nature of our society to work hard to slide into simplifications that make it easier to distinguish winners from losers.
The two people who should most be celebrated in this moment are Don Murphy, for truly believing in this concept being a big screen home run, and Michael Bay, for understanding the images that will draw massive numbers of people based on 2 minutes or less worth of image. Obviously, a ton of people worked hard and well to make the film a reality. And Paramount’s decision to pick-up half the film, which then became the entire film on the occasion of leasing DreamWorks for a few years, is the single best decision made by Brad Grey and Tom Freston in their tenure.
It’s not very clear, still, what the ultimate number of Tr2 will be. Trajectories are changing fast. And while the film is clearly assured of doing more than the original domestically ($319m), the difference between the first and the second at the end of the first weekend is $46 million, which could spread further… or not. If the film does 2.5x opening 3-day weekend, the domestic total lands at $370m. Figuring a similar foreign leap – to about $450m – that would put the film at $820m worldwide, into the rarefied air of the all-time worldwide Top 20 and in the company of the mega-franchises. Odd to say it, but anything under $800m would probably disappoint Par – based on this opening – and $900m would be above expectations.
What is amazing about modern franchise business is that at $800 million, about $440 million come back to the studio in rentals… about $325m of that goes into production and marketing… at least $100m of it goes into the pockets of points players… so with ALL that money, you’re still looking at the profits coming primarily in post-theatrical. Back when the first film was made, that would mean at least $300 million in profits. In the new DVDuh era, that’s likely to be under $200 million, even with the DVD selling as many or more units than TDK did last year.
This reminds us, once again, about what the most profitable film of the last two years has been… Mamma Mia!. Put that in your gap-n-gold toothed robot and smoke it…
Up, the year’s #2 film, will pass $250 million domestic tomorrow… Star Trek will pass 250 before the end of next weekend… The Hangover will hit $200 by the end of next weekend. So that’s four $200m+ films this summer, with Potter a sure bet and Ice Age 3 the best shot at a sixth. The record remains seven, set in summer 2007. Last year was six.
The Hurt Locker had the best per-screen in the nation, albeit on 4 screens. Summit has the #1 non-studio release this summer so far, with $3.1m for The Brothers Bloom. Let’s hope that THL finds a bigger audience because genre fans will love this movie if they get into the theater.