Friday, December 17, 2010

Tron: Legacy nets $3.6 million in midnight sneaks. Could open with as little as $19 million, as much as $80 million for the weekend.

Tron: Legacy has grossed $3.5 million in midnight showings. That slightly exceeds the $3.6 million earned by Avatar's midnight sneaks last year on this weekend and actually exceeds the $3 million earned by respective late-night Inception screenings. The film grossed 25% of its midnight numbers in IMAX screens, which is a record for the large-screen format. What does this mean for the opening weekend? Well, generally speaking, recent midnight screenings have accounted for about 5-6% of a film's overall weekend take, which would put a weekend estimate between and $58 million and $70 million. Think Iron Man 2 ($7.5m/$128m), Jackass 3D ($2.5m/$50m), and Inception ($3m/$62m). But more front-loaded films have seen their midnight takes make up 11-19% of their total. Examples: The Dark Knight ($18m/$158m), Paranormal Activity 2 ($6.3m/$41m), Twilight Saga: New Moon ($26m/$142m) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I ($24m/$125m).

So the best case scenario is that it performs like Avatar, which parlayed a $3.5 million midnight gross into a $80 million opening weekend (4.5% midnight). The worst case scenario is that it ends up as frontloaded as a Harry Potter sequel (either due to its niche audience or the fact that it's terrible). New Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I both grossed around 18-19% of their weekend take in midnight screenings. A similar result (18%) would give Tron: Legacy a craptastic opening weekend of just $19 million. I'm personally thinking that it plays like a slightly front-loaded sci-fi entry as well as one somewhat more tailored to midnight audiences. So let's be optimistic, give it a 7.5% midnight take and guess $46 million for now. We'll of course know the opening day totals in about eight hours, so this is all purely speculation.

Scott Mendelson

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