Update 7/22: The numbers are still dropping suggesting that family audiences by and large were not interested in going to the movies this weekend. This got ugly in a hurry as that massive 60% drop-off of top four holdovers I spoke about yesterday did in fact occur. I am not sure anymore that this was the product of people becoming more and more informed by the events of The Dark Knight Rises’ midnight showings. It may also have been that studio algorithms used for extrapolating estimates did not know how to coup with this unusual scenario.
On the plus side, The Dark Knight Rises might still break the $158 million franchise record set four years ago of The Dark Knight, but we will have to wait until Monday for official confirmation. As of early Sunday morning, rival studios are ball-parking Christopher Nolan’s latest in the $160-165 million range.
Just to point out, I genuinely believe this is going to be a short-term problem and not necessarily long-time. That said, I think midnight showings will be ruined for everyone going forward and I cannot imagine another blockbuster grossing beyond $30 million in midnight showings for a very long time. It is okay though because I hear that movies often play throughout the day as well.
Update 7/21: The adjusted estimates have increased the box office drop-off noticeably to 56.7%. I still think the difference is negligible at this time, but apparently the ongoing news coverage is hurting the box office as Friday’s results were not nearly as bad.
If there is no turn around this weekend, there likely will be one by early August when Sony releases Total Recall and Universal releases The Bourne Legacy. Really, this is still nothing to be concerned about. Should that percentage dip even further to (say 60%) then I would suggest concerns are then validated.
Original: So much for that massive sell-off of theater stocks today on Wall Street. The first box office data is coming in and foot traffic is largely untouched. Many speculated that some would be avoiding anything that reminds them of the events that transpired at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado; however, they were largely neglecting the fact that people genuinely want to see movies.
That said, anyone looking for some kind of indication that audiences are giving Hollywood the cold shoulder should note that The Dark Knight Rises is not necessarily the only game in town. Despite a juggernaut $180 million weekend performance being eyed by the latest Batman movie, the rest of the top five are showing some pretty good resistance given a tough situation.
Even with that generality, how do we know for sure that people are shrugging off the round the clock fear mongering that is national news coverage? It is simple math as we can compare drop-offs week-to-week of the top movies from the prior weekend. More specifically, we can match that up to what happened when The Avengers came to town in early May which had very similar opening numbers.
Going back to that time period, there were four movies in the top five outside of The Avengers led by Think Like a Man and The Hunger Games. Those films contracted 51% week-to-week which is more than usual, validating the assertion that the superhero ensemble flick had negatively impacted its competition. Now, we use the exact same scenario, but this time the four are led by Ice Age 4 and The Amazing Spider-Man. The drop-off as of current studio estimates is expected to be 48%.
This is extremely impressive mostly because of the presence of Spider-Man in that lineup which naturally suffered the biggest shrinkage (60%) due to its shared genre with The Dark Knight Rises. While it is important to realize that these numbers are just estimates, it definitely looks like people are not second guessing their theater-going habits.
For those looking for an update on The Dark Knight Rises, you will probably have to wait until Monday to find out exact numbers as Warner Bros. will not be dishing out weekend results as usual. This probably has something to do with the potential for their positive PR spin to somehow be misinterpreted and is probably a good call. The figures will still come out from third party sources, but they definitely will lack initial precision.