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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Yo Ho Yo Ho Klady


Pirates 4 could be the first $100m spun as a disaster. It looks like it will open down from the last one by about 15%… or about what 3 lost from 2. And the drop of domestic gross of about 25% from 2 to 3 is unlikely here (it would be down to about $230m). Disney can’t be jumping up and down over this launch – still Top 20 all-time amongst Friday openings – but it’s not a disaster.

I do think this will be the poster child for the next era of 3D, which is to say, it’s now just another price point and combined with studio efforts to disincentivize the theatrical window, one has to conclude that 3D pricing is now pushing away ticket buyers in some cases. Roughly 8 million people will go see Pirates 4 in theaters this weekend for an average of about $12 a pop. Would 10 million have gone to see it at $8.50 a pop? Is there anything that sticks with an audience after seeing this film – or most films – in 3D instead of 2D? Only the empty space in the wallet.

3D is a good tool for some things and a great marketing tool for a few. Smart people have known for years that the price point on movies was an important component in keeping things movie forward. When Average Joe and Joanne figured out that 3D was just a way to bump up the ticket price by 25% and not giving them 25% more pleasure… when it occurred to them that there was a new 3D “event” every other week (or more often), the bloom fell off the rose.

The international market is usually 6 months – a year behind us in smelling a rat. But they will figure it out too.

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21 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Yo Ho Yo Ho Klady”

  1. anghus says:

    Great hold for Bridesmaids. That movie deserves every dollar it makes.

    So what’s the drop for Pirates next week? 65%?

  2. bulldog68 says:

    So Bridesmaids will definitely blow your prediction out of the water Dave, but it seems that it could not have happened to a nicer film. And with this type of hold and memorial weekend next, it’s poised to be this year’s box office Hangover. Now all that’s left to see is whether Hangover 2 can pull a hangover.

    Pirates will make some serious coin still, and much like Shrek 4 will still clean up at the international level. But this one gets to 250M max and then the fat lady sings.

  3. chris says:

    I’m totally not down with the 3-D, which almost always seems to be to be superfluous but I’d recommend everyone who sees “Kung Fu Panda 2” see it in 3-D. It uses the 3-D so thoughtfully and inventively that it’s well worth the upcharge.

  4. LYT says:

    The first $100 million spun as a disaster? What about Superman Returns?

    I mean, I liked it, but everybody, including the folks at WB who opted to reboot rather than sequelize, now seems to accept “conventional wisdom” that it didn’t do well.

  5. The depth of field in PANDA 2 is definitely good, but I think it’s some of the worst 3D to date in that these movies are so dependent on their color vibrancy… and the 3D-dimmage completely destroys that. Even more than the 3D in the final island scene of PIRATES.

  6. David Poland says:

    Superman Returns opened to $85m in 5… and lost money

  7. VickiH says:

    I think just saying a movie is in 3D is not enough anymore for the consumer. Avatar set the bar, but the rush to jump on the 3D bandwagon has made consumers shy of laying out the money, cough Clash of the Titans cough.

    I have no desire to shell out the money for a movie converted to 3D and even those shot in 3D. 3D should be used as an event not the norm, especially with the up charge.

    Myself, I won’t have to worry really this summer, my husband’s 15 year old grandson is coming for the summer and he is blind in one eye, so no 3D for us.

  8. boxstats says:

    David, your figures are off. I can’t believe no one ever looks this stuff up. I keep reading the wrong openings for P1 and P3. All the Pirates films save P2 & 4 had pretty different release patterns. The last Pirates had the strangest one as it opened at 8pm on a Thursday.

    Here’s how it went –
    P1 – 5 day opening – 70m
    P2 – 3 day opening – 135m
    P3 – 4 day opening (including Thursday night) – 153m
    P4 – 3 day opening 89?

    In distribution we count opening night as part of the opening weekend box office which is why we count the opening Thursday gross even though it’s strange. Also it’s generally accepted that it only does slightly better in a 5 day say than a 3 day unless kids are out of school as was the case for P1.

  9. Kung Fu Panda 2 is the perfect case for the 3D problem. Yes, its 3D work is terrific and immersive, and yes the image is plenty bright even with dimming involved. But the movie is so damn good (and it really is a terrific action drama) that it would play just as well on a decent sized 2D screen, so I can’t really say ‘this must be seen in 3D’. Over the last seven years, the only movies that I felt really HAD to be seen in 3D were The Polar Express and Coraline. Even Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon, which used 3D flawlessly, worked just as well in a core ‘this is a great movie’ sense in 2D. I’m curious about Transformers 3, but even the good buzz on the Green Lantern 3D is more about ‘oh good, now I can see it early if able without seeing a subpar presentation’.

  10. anghus says:

    No disrespect intended, but Dave was off on Thor (which has passed 400 million worldwide) and Bridesmaids.

    And i expect with a good but not exceptional, really bad word of mouth, and a lot of competition means Pirates won’t hit 300 million.

    It’ll be interesting to see if it’s one of those summers where every film does pretty decent but none of them blow everything else out of the water.

    The lane is wide open for TF3 to win the Summer.

  11. Evan says:

    One thing to keep in mind…Friday, a lot of kids were still in school…not going to movies. It’s kind of funny to see a movies whole box office, from a few hours of release. You guys must be REALLY smart.

  12. Proman says:

    “I’m totally not down with the 3-D, which almost always seems to be to be superfluous but I’d recommend everyone who sees “Kung Fu Panda 2″ see it in 3-D. It uses the 3-D so thoughtfully and inventively that it’s well worth the upcharge.”

    So, what you’re really saying is that your issue is not with 3D but with how it is completely misused by filmmakers who don’t know what they are doing. In the hands of masters, it is all well and good though. I’m down with that.

    Also, Superman Returns was too expensive for a first film, plain and simple. Had Singer followed up with a bigger sequel in the vein of Dark Knight (Batman Begins was a fairly humble beginning too) all would have been forgiven.

    In any case, the real b.o. story of the weekened seems the phenomenal and well deserved performance of Midnight in Paris.

  13. Jason Bruen says:

    So Pirates should open around $100M. Shocked that it would be considered a disappointment. But if it struggles to get to $250M, then I could understand.

    Panda sounds great. What is the record for openings for 2 movies? There’s no shot Panda and Hangover can both open to $100M each, right? Regardless, I think Pirates is cooked for next weekend. Could we be looking at a 2nd weekend of $30 something?

  14. NickF says:

    Evan, the estimates are based on years of weekend box office trends. The accuracy or legitimacy is a different story.

    The concept behind Supes’ Return was part of it’s failure. Singer should not have tied it to Donner’s movies like he did. It was a bad place to start from and the content didn’t suffice either.

  15. djk813 says:

    Still the only movie I’ve seen that I would say that you have to see in 3D is Step Up 3D. Part of the reason is the counter-point to Scott’s thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 2, meaning that Step Up 3 isn’t all that good of a movie. But the dance numbers are so well choreographed and filmed, and the 3D is used so well that watching it in a theater in 3D was a real rush. I saw it twice in 3D but I never did see it in 2D, but I’d imagine it would lose a lot of its energy without the 3D.

  16. That’s basically where the future of 3D may lie, Djk813: bad or just okay films that nonetheless have genuine added-value in 3D (I would put Polar Express in that category – I know of no one who saw it in 2D who was all that impressed). In retrospect, I do wish I had bothered to check out Step Up 3D, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

  17. Jacob says:

    Could there be a more ordinary, overrated movie than Bridesmaids to experience this level of success since maybe My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Neither one is very good and especially Bridesmaids is way too long.

  18. Proman says:

    “I would put Polar Express in that category – I know of no one who saw it in 2D who was all that impressed.”

    I only saw Polar Express on TV so I saw it in 2D and I was quite impressed.

    I am very curious what Steven Spielberg does with 3D.

  19. anghus says:

    is the foreign total on POTC already at 92 million?

    Jeez. That’s a lot of cash.

  20. anghus says:

    oh, and Fast Five moves towards 500 million worldwide?

  21. palmtree says:

    On that note, Fast Five opened to nearly the same number as Pirates 4. It’s also quite possible that it’ll eventually outgross it too. Weird right, but entirely possible. It had a higher opening per screen average. It also didn’t need 3D to attract its audience. That to me, would be a major blow for Pirates if “the little franchise that could” beats it.

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