Box Office Archive for May, 2008
What can one say about Sex?
Mighty niche plays are poorly predicted by tracking.
It’s not going to quite be The Simpsons, but like The Simpsons, a TV series showed its ability to draw on opening day… even if, in this case, the movie sucks like Samantha.
What’s truly remarkable… even if Indy opened on Thursday and even if Sex doesn’t follow with similar muscle… is that if Klady’s number is right, Sex had a better opening day number than Indy… not to mention Rings: 2 Towers and Bourne Ult.
Indy took, perhaps, a bigger than expected hit this Friday… but as there is little chance that families are going to spend the rest of the weekend at Sex, there may well be an uptick as the weekend progresses.
Universal got the $20m opening for The Strangers... which is about right for that title, even if it was released by Screen Gems, known for releasing those films, and whose campaign looked so much like a SG Special.
So… after protecting Indy, it turns out he didn’t need much protection after all.
Len has it estimated at $149 million, BO Mojo and Fantasy Moguls at $151m. Regardless, it is the #5 first five days domestically ever. It might also be the fifth $150m+ 5-day ever. It’s a bigger opening than any Harry Potter or any Rings film.
My personal take is that the #2 Memorial Day Weekend thing is pretty irrelevant. The significance of that kind of landmark really varies from year to year. What doesn’t vary – in spite of the adjusted gross and ticket price folks – is money. Money is money is money. There is no realistic comparison between movie grosses and ticket sales in the mid-sixties and earlier with the seventies and then we see another big leap in the mid-90s. The top opening before 2000 is 1999’s Star Wars – Episode One, which is all the way down at #20 now. But Indy follows in the footsteps of the four years before, as the top five openings of all time are now one per year, 2004-2008, three in May, one in June and one in July.
The question of how the film is being perceived, outside of our media and geek bubble, is still mostly unknown. I am not a big fan of the film, but as I recall, there was even great rage in our bubble about Episode One… and that went on to four times opening, which doesn’t prove that the film is any good, but does prove that word-of-mouth in the real world was very good, at least.
After these numbers, most of the boo birds will back off… but not Nikki Finke, who continues to push the negativity. Knowing, as we do, that Nikki writes what Nikki is fed, one has to wonder whose agenda is it to diminish this obvious success? My guess has shifted away from another studio and right back to people inside Paramount who are about to lose Mr Spielberg again… particularly based on the new spin, which is that business is good, but Spielberg wasn’t really trying.
As I always say… it takes a lot of hard work to make even a crappy movie. And in this case, love it or hate it, S/L/F took a lot of time to decide on a story and a script before making this film. Yes, they might all have been delaying, in part, until it was most advantageous to go ahead and make the movie. But the idea that this was not an effort is simply foolish.
Meanwhile, the worldwide number is over $300 million for this weekend. This means that Paramount will have their expenses on the film covered by the middle of next weekend and Spielberg/Lucas/Ford will start taking home 48 cents of every dollar grossed by the film (45 cents to the theaters and 7 cents to Paramount).
There’s not a lot more to talk about… the Caspian bloodbath being covered and mourned.
Crazy Nikki has been headlining “Movie Ticket Prices Are Soaring” for days now… which someone must have told her and which she clearly didn’t bother to look into at all.
The ticket increases, which seem to be limited to a small number of theaters and to a $1 increase, seems to be a minor story that is being hyped by a hyper. There does seem to be a story in some increases in the cost of popcorn at the theaters… based on increases to the cost of corn.
Specific inaccuracies –
1. “Movie theaters are raising ticket prices by a dollar or two this summer because popcorn is more expensive. “
In the Kansas City Star, Robert Butler is reporting that there will be $1 increases in tickets… after 4p on weekends… from $9 to $10. In his piece, he says the increase is, “partly because of the rising price for popcorn,” but there is no specific about cause-and-effect. Butler confusingly connects a March LA Times story on popcorn price issues with ticket sales, even though AMC specifically denied the correlation on the record.
I can find no reference anywhere to any $2 ticket increases. And keep in mind, the studios have a vested interest in keeping prices sane, even though 55% of that revenue is theirs.
A USA Today story on increases in corn costs included AMC, but didn’t mention ticket price increases at all.
2. “The profit margins at theaters which rely on concession sales for as much as 45% of their revenue are desperate to make up the difference.”
Same as it ever was. Gross revenue, however, is irrelevant at a theater. In terms of net revenue, concessions are more like 80% of the net. Perhaps the 45% figure comes from the percentage theaters keep from ticket sales.
3. Also, major theaters in cities are starting to charge the same for children as adults.
This has been an issue for years. As reported in USA Today , Clearview Cinemas in Manhattan dumped children and senior pricing last year, which raised those tickets to the adult price of $12 from $8… but they also report that the decision was reversed and the $8 ticket is back for seniors and kids.
You will not find many theaters that do not offer senior and children’s pricing… and when they do not, it is usually on weekend evenings.
Of course, the rise of popcorn prices by 25 cents isn’t much of a story. And the annual summer raise of prices by 25 cents or 50 cents has been going on for more than a decade.
As far as I can tell, there has been no change of ticket pricing in Los Angeles, for instance, where it’s still $12.75 at The Grove, still $10.75 in Culver City, and still just $11.50 for AMC’s Century City multiplex.
The spin from Nikki on all of this is, “The result is that Indy 4’s totals, and Paramount’s bragging rights, can surely benefit even if it does hurt the finances of filmgoers who increasingly feel ripped off.”
Utter bullshit. Even assuming a uniquely high average ticket price for this weekend’s blockbuster release, a $1 increase in ticket prices would only lead to an increase of under $15 million to the weekend total.
This spin was likely placed there by someone other than her pal Brad Grey… someone at another studio that wants to devalue the Indiana Jones success…. like someone who might be worried about a certain web-slinger losing position on the history charts. That’s not happening, of course. Indy will fall short of those numbers. But all is spin in war and movies.
So… this estimate is still the fourth biggest Friday that wasn’t opening day in history, behind Star Wars 3/6, Spidey 2, and Matrix 2. Still not a story.
It is also pointed out to me that none of the actual forecasts by the tracking companies came close to the $170m bandied around by Steve Mason and Nikki Finke, who positioned Paramount’s discussion of the actual tracing projections as a lowering of their projections. Part of the problem there is that now that Brad Grey feeds Finke, he seems to get overly enthusiastic, which she then runs, whether in box office or excitement about deals that are not as positive as spun. So perhaps the blame is not 100% on her… unless you still think of her box office coverage as journalistic in some way. Or did the higher numbers come from the competition that wants to see a $140 million 5-day look like a disappointment?
There is something thrilling about record-breaking. But it’s not always going to happen. You don’t have to be math whiz to have noticed a year ago that this summer is not going to be the kind of summer we had last year… though it might be more profitable. And my projection of Indy was always a summer leading $350m… not the $400 million-plus that you would have to project in a softer-than-2007 summer if it actually did a $170 million 5-day.
Narnia took a big hit this weekend and suddenly looks like $125m is going to be a stretch. Lots of dissection to come on that at Disney… and even more so, Anchutz’ office, where all the self-hype going into the release is now looking ill-conceived.
Iron Man is still holding like a champ. And Speed Racer is just barely going to beat out Harold & Kumar II at the domestic box office. Brutal.
Funny… the first time this summer I didn’t warn about overhype causing stupid stories about a non-record for a movie being a “disappointment” and we get one.
This 5-day opening will still surely be amongst the 15 best ever. (#15 is $120.84m) And the odds are good that we are looking at the Top 10 or higher. But as is always the case with these movies, we are in the ether… all precedent is iffy, at best.
What galls is that the notion that this was going to be a $170m opening five came from people who want to tell the public that there is such a thing as tracking that says that a movie will open to $170 million. NRG or MarketCast may project that kind of number, but there is no such thing as tracking that is specific to ANY number, much less numbers for weekends over $100 million.
Of course, those same people then start using the “d” word to cover for the fact that their numbers were, simply, wrong… possible, but wrong.
And that’s what’s wrong with all this obsessive box office projection, which has really taken off since Drudge started linking to Nikki Finke offering Sony’s or Universal’s pre-weekend projections and/or Friday early evening (west coast) projections. As one of the regulars in here has asked, what’s wrong if the numbers are right? The answer is, “nothing.” The problem is when the numbers or projections are wrong. Like Barack Obama: The Muslim, unringing the bell completely is impossible. And false mythology continues to spread like a media game of Telephone.
My guess is around $140 million. But even if it’s $130m or $125m… are we really counting that as a disappointment these days? Even with that start, you’re still likely looking at the top grossing film of the summer. And internationally, it is pretty much guaranteed to be #1 for the summer in the traditional of Pirates and Spider-Man 3 and the Potter films. So….
So Narnia 2 opens about $10 million behind Narnia 1… why?
Don’t really know. Did skewing older cost them? Maybe. There could be some parents waiting to make sure, around the soccer field, that it’s safe for the little ones. There was more competition here… $25 million more grossed by the rest of the Top 5 this weekend than on Narnia 1’s first weekend. And there was a marketing emphasis on the new star and much less on the four kids at the center of the first film. But… who really knows?
Another nice hold for Iron Man. Great numbers, but it still remains $60m behind Spider-Man 3 and $50 million ahead of X2: X-Men United as it heads into its first weekend with some market-changing competition, a luxury S-M3 didn’t have. This suggests a total around $270 million.
Speed Racer continues to drop like a stone after being the media whipping boy for the last two weeks. Too bad.
Forbidden Kingdom is surely the quietest $50 million hit of the year.
The first Narnia film opened to $23m on Friday and ended up doing less than triple that for the weekend… and about 12 times the number in the end, dometically. But that was early December, not on the holiday weekend and not in summer. So we don’t really know what the multiple will look like this weekend. I could be anyway between 2,5x to 3.5x really. We’ll have a better sense of that tomorrow, though the final number may be skewed by the Christian question, which is, do families go see the film after church tomorrow?
But let’s also keep perspective on the story. The difference between a Christian push and not is probably 20% – 30%… the difference, say, between a $200 million movie and a $250 million movie. That’s a lot of money in the real world, but in Move World, not as much.
Also keep in mind than the first Narnia did just over 60% of its box office overseas, $290m domestic to $450m foreign.
Iron Man is running about $40 million ahead of X2 and about $60m behind Spider-Man 3. This suggests that $260m doemstic is close to where the number will land.
What’s fascinating from the start is that Box Office Mojo has both What Happens In Vegas and Speed Racer at least $300k or about 5% lower… and has Iron Man a whopping $2.8 million higher than Klady.
Meanwhile, Brad Grey’s #3 Girl has Iron Man at $15m – avoiding the 65% drop that Klady estimates – and was actually $500k higher on the Friday estimate for Speed last night… and lower on Vegas last night than this morning. (Of course, some people can’t do math either. A $15 million Friday is a 57% drop, not 62%.)
What does all this mean?
It means that box office obsession and confusion are now in charge and that people who don’t actually know much about box office, but who are being “sourced” by people with vested interests, are going to make Saturdays interesting all summer long.
Meanwhile, Iron Man dropping anything less than 55% for the weekend after that opening is a very strong showing. And anything more, a pretty average showing. We’ll see.
Speed Racer and What Happens In Vegas, not so much.
We really don’t know the future of either film yet. The slot is more promising for legs for Vegas than for Speed with Narnia coming up next weekend. But the question of who Speed Racer is playing to is really the issue at hand.
Both films are in line with Monster-in-Law, which opened in this slot 2 summers ago. Thing is, for Fox, that is comforting. M-i-L got to $83 million and it’s hard to imagine that Fox was expecting more from their comedy. This is not comforting to WB, where they are well behind Daddy Day Care, a movie that got slaughtered by the critics from the same summer slot, but still managed to crack $100 million with family audiences. But again… the question is whether the under 12s are going to see this film or if their parents are going to push them off and make them wait for DVD, since the adults don’t want to go.
Even a strong Saturday rebound and great word-of-mouth has $100m for Speed Racer quite unlikely. As I have said forever, it’s not the movie on opening weekend… it’s the marketing. And in trying to sell this thing to older teens instead of just getting to the kids core – the strongest single demo in summer, period – they seem to have missed both. They are not the first and they won’t be the last. But the fact that they find themselves in the same position as Poseidon was – a undisputably horrible film – is tragic and sick-making. Once they blinked and moved off of Memorial Day, they would have been much better off on August 8 than May 9… maybe even July 18 as a light alternative to The Dark Knight. But kids, kids, kids was the answer to the question WB marketing never answered.
By any previous metric, other than the first Spider-Man, Iron Man will be at $40m or lower, but none of the predictors are near that number and one has the film dropping just 40%, which would be a Spider-Man-like triumph of a second weekend.
On the flip side, tracking has Speed Racer in the low 30’s, but tracking is notorious for missing kids. The question on the film is whether parents will let little kids see the film or if they are scared of the Wachowski of it all. The reviews, screaming hyperactivity, will not inspire many parents to want to spend the time with their kids in the theater, even if it seems clear that the kids will love the film. Will they hold them off and take them to Narnia next weekend, even if they are begging?
And there you go…
I am going to restrain myself from discussion the ownership issues on this movie and Indy 4, as I am sure that it will be turned into a “sour grapes” game from those who wish to paint me as an Iron Man basher or, for that matter, a Paramount basher.
No one can be unimpressed with the success of this weekend for Paramount marketing.
I am computer challenged this morning, so again, the full Friday estimates are on the front page.
But the one folks are talking about… and the one Paramount is actually offering on a Saturday morning, is Iron Man’s $32.8m Friday. Including 8p and on Thursday previews (which really makes of a 4 day… but whatever) and leaning on last summer’s Spider-Man 3 numbers from the slot last summer (down 14 percent, then 22), looks to be about $88m by Monday.
Made Of Honor looking at about $14, which tells you all you need to know about Mr Dempsey’s movie career.
There is nothing wrong with a $5 million Thursday night pre-open, starting at 8pm.
In fact, it’s quite good.
And Paramount has not been selling the hype that box office “experts” have been cooking.
But what it doesn’t suggest is a $100 million 3-day. The films that have done that – or close to that – and that have stunted the night before have seen numbers more like $8m – $10m, often with a later start, like the 10pm start for Matrix Reloaded, which ended up with about $5m for shows between 10p and midnight. The midnight and later shows added to the $37.5m Thursday number. And still, the 3-day was $92 million.
I am still comfortable with a projection of a $75 million 3-day, plus, perhaps, another $5m from Thursday. The number is still a record… nothing that needs defensive explaining at all… and pretty much on target for the run of the film, though I must say that no movie that’s opened to over $70 million in May has ever not cracked $200 million. So my final number from 20 Weeks is probably a little low, with $210 looking more realistic.
Target number for Friday to do $75m for the 3-day… $27m to $30m.
And if that is where it lands, everyone who LOVES the film should be very, very happy. Really.