Friday, June 3, 2011

Box Office Midnight Math: X-Men: First Class grosses $3.4 million at 12:01am. It looks like a $62 million weekend.

Here we go again.  The first West-Coast shows have barely let out and we already have solid numbers from last night's midnight screenings.  For the record, 20th Century Fox's X-Men: First Class has pulled in $3.4 million in 12:01 showings.  As we all know if you've been reading over the last month or so, most big-studio pictures that play the midnight game can expect to gross between 4.5-6.5% of their weekend take in the midnight showings.  I only have midnight numbers for the last two entries in the series.  X-Men: The Last Stand opened with $5.9 million worth of midnight screenings, which kick-started a $102 million Fri-Sun Memorial day weekend and a $122 million holiday four-day stretch.  Using just the three-day numbers, X-Men: The Last Stand had a 5.7% midnight multiplier. X-Men Origins: Wolverine grossed $5 million worth of midnight tickets, which led to an $85 million opening weekend (a 5.8% midnight multiplier).

Obviously, since X-Men: First Class is the fifth entry in a geek-centric science-fiction comic book series, the film will likely be more front-loaded with midnight numbers than something like Fast Five (which only grossed 4.3% of its $86 million opening weekend in Thursday at 12:00am showings). Thor pulled down a solid 5% of its $65 million debut at midnight, and that seems to be a decent comparison.  On one hand, X-Men: First Class is an anticipated property, but on the other hand, it is getting terrific reviews and will likely have equally good word of mouth (unlike the last two entries of the series).  Also helping the Matthew Vaughn prequel/reboot is the fact that X-Men is a more general-audiences franchise compared to the comparatively niche-ish Thor.  So factoring in potential front-loading with a more mass-audience franchise, X-Men: First Class looks to earn between $57 million and $68 million over the three-day weekend, with $62 million looking like the likely number.  Of course, we'll know more soon enough...

Scott Mendelson

PS - if anyone has midnight grosses for the first two X-Men films, I would be much obliged.


Simoncolumb said...

This is nuts - I have listened to THE HOLLYWOOD SALOON a load and they were on about how Hollywood is destroying itself and this is a clear example. Reporting on MIDNIGHT GROSSES!!!! How many screenings? what type of people see these films? reviews are barely out ... no wrod of mouth has been generated ...

Again, and I'm not sponsored by THE HOLLYWOOD SALOON, seriously, but they simply argue the case that these figures should simply NOT be released. It affects the audience - they shouldn't release these AT ALL for a couple of weeks because the press coverage affects the next weeks grosses "so, did you see x-men only made $65m last weekend ... must be crap ...".

how can we rise up and stop this harmful process??? The only people who benefit from this coverage are the press ... not us the audience, and surely not the wide range of studios all competing for the takings...

eugh ...


Scott Mendelson said...

Actually, I benefit because I enjoy playing with the math. And, frankly, the reason the midnight screening $$ are news is because they have been a pretty reliable indicator (again, it usually falls between 4.5-6.5%, with a usual average of 5-6%) of how well a certain genre film will do over the weekend. But you're not wrong that it's a little weird to have an idea of how well a film is going to do over its opening weekend often before the West Coast shows even begin in most theaters.

In the old days (up to around the late-90s), the only places most people heard about the grosses were in the Monday USA Today, and the next week's Entertainment Weekly. It wasn't until the Internet that I was able to track down weekend grosses on late Sunday afternoon, and then daily grosses on Showbiz Data (usually by the next day around 11am to 1pm). And yes, as more and more films have gone the midnight route, it has been possible to telegraph likely opening weekend numbers based on just the 12:01am showings. It's a strange situation, but it remains the case this summer.

But of course, it's all educated guessing until the actual figures come out. The harm comes when pundits who know nothing about the business hold up some arbitrary guess ("Gee, I think Super 8 will open to $79 million next weekend because Star Trek opened with $79 million and J.J. Abrams directed both!") and then rip the film for not living up to their ridiculous guestimates. Box Office Bingo is basically a fun game whereby longtime box office followers like myself look at the history and the math to make a call. The problem isn't that people like me do it. The problem is that people who wouldn't know a multiplier from a mop treat the guesswork as hard factual science, and in turn find any reason to brand any film a failure regardless of the actual numbers.

In short, box office data is neutral. It can be used for good, for evil, or for objective examination. The choice is yours.


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