A Sound of Thunder

tropicthunder.jpgIf we accept that there is some cachet associated with being THE NUMBER-ONE MOVIE IN THE COUNTRY!, why would a studio release a movie on Wednesday in August?

Last week, Pineapple Express and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 debuted on Wednesday. The Dark Knight ($26.1 million) beat them both over the weekend — with Express earning $23.2 million from Friday to Sunday and Pants drawing $10.7 million.

But Pineapple Express had grossed $18.1 million through Thursday, meaning that after its first weekend, it stood at $41.3 million.

If a majority of the people who saw the movie on Wednesday and Thursday would have seen it in its first few days of release no matter what, a Friday-opening Express would have soundly beaten the Knight over the weekend.

So if Batman squeaks by the Wednesday-opening Tropic Thunder this weekend, the studio has only itself to blame.

Hmmm...I could be totally wrong, since I’ve never really thought about random Wednesday openings until reading this posting (I mean random as opposed to early openings before the holiday weekend). But here are my initial thoughts:

Perhaps the studios figured that “The Dark Knight” would be #1 for several weeks and planned ahead, hoping to gather some extra ticket sales, even knowing that they probably wouldn’t out-gross a new Batman installment. Now, in the case of “Pineapple Express,” perhaps some moviegoers hoped to beat weekend crowds, and wouldn’t have gone had the film opened two days later.

Like you mentioned, perhaps there’s some stock in being the weekend’s #1 movie. However, that’s just sad if people go to movies based solely on how much money it’s pulling in, instead of the film’s actual merit.

Yes? No? Maybe?

Jamie: Honestly, I can’t wrap my head around why Express would open on a Wednesday.

And the only thing I can think for Thunder is that it wanted to avoid The Clone Wars, although they seem geared to very different audiences.

Could both movies have anticipated The Dark Knight? I don’t think so. By their fourth weekends, most blockbusters would look at $20 million as a great haul. (The fourth weekend for Indiana Jones this summer: $14.7 million.) $20 million is a very beatable number, and certainly not competition to run away from.

And if you doubt that being number one for the weekend is important, just pay attention to the television ads for movies that trumpet being “the number one (movie/comedy/romantic comedy) in America!”

Jaime - sad, maybe, but definitely something that happens - one might say, it’s the largest factor. Poll the audience for “The Dark Knight” and you’ll find a lot of crowds that started going when they found out that everyone else was - independent of specific word of mouth regarding the film’s quality itself. That’s how blockbusters work, of course - just calling something a “blockbuster” ahead of time gets people in seats, because they know everyone else will be doing the same. When it’s not a film like “The Dark Knight” geared towards fanboys and the sequel-curious? It’s a bellwether effect, I suppose, where a few go and bump the ticket numbers up enough for everyone to follow.

That “anonymous” was me, obviously - that “post as LJ user” thing didn’t work quite right, I guess.

Michael: Sorry about that. It might be working now. I’ve re-jiggered some things ... .

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