Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hannah Montana Movie moved away from Summer (Fox breathes a sigh of relief)

Yet another high-profile date change, this one affecting the beginning of summer 2009. The (sure to be highly anticipated) Hannah Montana Movie has moved from May 1st to April 10th, 2009. I'm not sure why Disney made the move, but this will be a huge relief to Fox, Paramount, and Sony for the month of May.

The Hannah Montana Movie was originally set to kick off the summer on May 1st, head to head with Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now you may be thinking that this would have been a similar situation to summer 2003, when X2: X-Men United opened to $85 million and The Lizzie McGuire Movie opened with $17 million. And you'd be wrong.

Call it improved marketing or a coming of age of the Disney Channel audience, but Disney Channel television is bigger than its ever been and Hannah Montana is its queen. Hannah Montana is a monster unlike any of the previous Nickelodeon or Disney starlets of previous generations. Don't believe me? Ask any parent of a young girl about the likelihood of being dragged to this one on opening weekend. Ask any young girl if they'd rather see Hannah Montana or just about any other movie you can name other than Harry Potter 6. Melissa Joan Hart, of Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina The Teenage Witch, once ruefully remarked that had she been a star today, she would have had a movie, a TV show, and a platinum-selling CD to her credit. Miley Cyrus and her rock-star alter-ego are absolutely a crippling force to be reckoned with. This is a character who's last movie , the 3D concert film Best Of Both Worlds, opened last February to $32 million on just 683 screens. Yes, many of those screens charged an extra buck or two for the 3D experience, but that's still a record $45,561 per screen.

Ok, fine, let's say Hannah Montana opens on 4000 screens and we cut that average in half ($22,780 - not even in the top twenty-five per screen averages). That still gives us a $91 million opening weekend. Does anyone think that Wolverine is going to do $91 million on its opening weekend? Maybe, it's possible, if the stench of X-Men 3 and the alleged behind the scenes drama doesn't affect the buzz. How about Star Trek? Angels And Demons? Anything else this summer other than maybe Harry Potter 6 and Transformers 2? Even chopping that per-screen average down by 2/3 gives the Miley Cyrus vehicle $15,000 per screen and a $61 million opening weekend.
So, aside from not wanting to embarrass Fox and Sony, why did Disney move it out of the summer? The only explanation that I can think of is two-fold. First off, they know they can't gross $151 million, so the record for May is out of reach. The April record, Anger Management's $42 million, could theoretically be beaten on opening day (expect massive frontloading of April 10th). The other reason is simpler. If Hannah Montana can live up to even the bottom rung of potential, it'll have a full month to itself to print money before having to deal with the big guns of summer. I suppose it's better to trade being a big fish in a big pond for being the fish who eats and kills all the other fish in a smaller pond.

But make no mistake, this is as much a game changer as Harry Potter's big move. Alas, in the broad sense, Disney loses a chance to prove that yet another female-centric film can cause mega-damage to cash registers in summer just as well as the super heroes and geek properties. While it may be a smart financial move for Disney, it creates the perception that the girl flick isn't tough enough to hack it out against the men. Pity, since it's likely that Hannah Montana would have thrashed Wolverine, Captain Kirk, and John Conner without breaking a sweat.

Scott Mendelson


Nikola said...

First of all, kudos for a great blog, I think you just got yourself a follower! (and be sure I'll reward your fab Hannah Montana article with a certain click)

While on the subject of Hannah Montana, wow, do I hate that girl? Her cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" aside, why would parents choose to religiously play the new Disney channel to their kids!? Even thinking of all those product placements, double-standards, shallow characters etc. makes me sick!

And let's be honest - Hannah Montana is not a chick flick... It will be watched by every single kid in America!

dorsey said...

i like Hannah Montana movie.but i think mostly people like Hannah Montana tv show .because such huge tv show can not be bound in 2-3 hours movie.


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