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Weekend box office reports...are they really fair? (1 Viewer)

Mar 22, 2001
I noticed that reports always seem to point out the difference betweeen a films opening weekend and then how much its dropped the next weeekend.Not really sure how fair it is to do this,because you have an additional 5 days during the week for people to go,so of course there is going to typically be a pretty decent drop off.It just seems to me that it could make a movie seem to be doing worse than it actually is..what do you think?

Edwin Pereyra

Senior HTF Member
Oct 26, 1998
Weekend box office reports, especially how a film did the weekend following its opening weekend, were used to gauge how a film is performing and whether there is good word of mouth. A 30% dropoff used to be considered normal.
With the proliferation of multiplexes and the possibility of a film being released in more screens than ever before and the public’s need to see a film in its opening weekend just so that they can be in vogue and be able to discuss a film along with the rest of their friends and colleagues, these days, a film’s depreciation is more and more meaningless.
We have seen big blockbusters this summer drop an average 50% from one weekend to the next for the first time. In the old days that would seem big but not anymore. A big release film now has to make its money in its first few days of release. It is considered “old” after its second week and the public is ready to move on to another picture.
Such is the pop culture phenomenon.
Box office dropoffs or performance are now more applicable to smaller films (i.e. Memento, The Deep End, etc.) where the release pattern is staggered. Another exception is The Others. This is one film where we saw a 4% dropoff from one weekend to the next especially after the Sept. 11 attacks. It showed that the film has legs and word of mouth help carry it through.
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/005780.html#8 http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/006466.html

Chad R

Senior HTF Member
Jul 14, 1999
Real Name
Chad Rouch
But, is the drop off because the audiences have to see the films opening weekend to be cool, or because another big release is coming the very next weekend?
Studios have been shooting themselves in the foot with their marketing. It seems that it used to be that a studio would have one or two event pictures a summer, and mix it up with a few smaller pictures they thought had a chance. Now every movie that comes out is hyped and advertised as an event. Even movies that would have at one time been considered a smaller movie (American Pie) is made out to be huge.
Studios are desperate to be able to claim some record. Have you noticed how they word some of these records? Biggest non-holiday opening for an animated film. Or biggest mid week opening. As long as they tack on qualifiers like that they'll always have some record.
And don't put it past stuidos to lie to reach those records. Since the grosses we hear about Sunday are studio estimates, some stuidos have inflated their grosses to be able to claim #1 for the weekend, or in the case of 'Scream 2' inflate it by close to $10 million to be able to claim (at the time) largest non-holiday opening. They beleive people will hear these records and think that if that amny people saw it it must be good and somehow help their second weekend grosses. As we've seen that doesn't work.
So I don't know if I'd call the new phenomenon of sharp falloffs a product of pop culture or faulty studio marketing. But I'd vote for the latter.

Jason Seaver

Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1997
So I don't know if I'd call the new phenomenon of sharp falloffs a product of pop culture or faulty studio marketing. But I'd vote for the latter.
It's actually canny studio marketing. The studios want attendence front-loaded, because they get 80% of the box office take for the first two weeks, but only 50% for weeks 5 and 6 - actually, it's different for every movie, but those are good hypothetical numbers. Point is, it's in their interest too get many audience members early, and not just because of potentially bad word-of-mouth. And, not only can $100M in two weeks be potentially more lucrative than $130M in two months, it makes it easier for movies to get to video while there's still a buzz on them.

Scott Weinberg

Senior HTF Member
Oct 3, 2000
I think this past summer's big "second week dropoffs" can be attributed to one major factor:
Most theatrical releases suck these days.
Tomb Raider had a solid opening before dropping a healthy amount every weekend? Why? Because it stunk, people told their friends it stunk, and then eventually the moviegoers move on to something newer.
On the other hand, if Tomb Raider actually had some quality to it, the reviews would have been positive, word-of-mouth would have blossomed, and the movie would have acquired those "legs" that are so envied in the movie industry.
Ed beat me to it, but The Others is a perfect example of the anti-Tomb Raider performance.
Scott Weinberg
[Edited last by Scott Weinberg on November 06, 2001 at 02:41 PM]

Seth Paxton

Senior HTF Member
Nov 5, 1998
I think Ed has a point, but I also agree with Scott regarding the quality aspect.
I say this simply because there are just SO MANY people who still don't go on the first weekend. A lot of these people are simply skipping the "big weekend" films that could have perpetuated it's success had the word of mouth been stronger.
I can remember a day when Officer and a Gentleman ran for months doing good business.
So maybe studios are in no hurry to crank out something good enough to have legs because they simply want to milk the good percentage front-end and leave the theaters hanging with a poorly producing film a few weeks later when the percentages change in favor of the theater.
I have a real concern that the business model is driving down mainstream creative filmmaking.
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