Musicals are not a box office factor as a rule. Fans of the genre do not enjoy hearing that, but it is a reality. Only five titles of the singing/dancing variety have earned $100 million domestically, with only three (The Sound of Music, Chicago, and Grease) earning over $150 million. So lackluster have the performances of many musicals been that the film we are discussing first today, Hairspray, is already one of the 20 most successful musicals of all time.
Daily Box Office Analysis for July 24, 2007
By David Mumpower
July 25, 2007
Yes, you read that right. Hairspray's $4.33 million on Tuesday gives it current box office of $36.34 million, and yes, that does make it the 20th most successful musical of all time. Now you understand why box office analysts are so grim about the prospects of such releases. Over the past 20 years, only two musicals have earned even $60 million. Those are Dreamgirls ($112.89 million) and Chicago (number two all time with $170.69 million). So, Hairspray has a chance to do something impressive if it becomes the third title to surpass that $60 million threshold, which certainly appears likely. Along the way, it will overtake Moulin Rouge!, the other recent "hit" musical, a title that earned $57.39 million. Should it exceed $68.6 million, it will beat Purple Rain for tenth place all time in the genre.
Note that we are obviously not adjusting for inflation here but talking in total box office dollars. I'm relatively certain that if we did some fact checking and ran the math for Oklahoma's box office run, it would look lovely. Musicals were a much more pleasing form of cinematic entertainment 50 years ago than mainstream audiences find them to be now.
For the purposes of this discussion, there isn't a great comparison for Hairspray. Moulin Rouge! was a mid-May release, so its weekday numbers do not make for a good model. Similarly, Chicago and Dreamgirls were both December awards contenders (obviously since both of them won multiple Academy Awards). That makes them poor for the purposes of daily box office tracking. The most recent summer musicals that might work are...I swear to you...Purple Rain and Rhinestone (yes, the Sylvester Stallone/Dolly Parton movie). So, Hairspray is pretty much an entity unto itself. In lieu of any available fact checking or statistical analysis, I'm going to make a judgment call here and arbitrarily determine that $4.33 million is a good Tuesday for Hairspray. Let's face facts. If it's not, there is no empirical data you can provide to prove otherwise, so it's my word against yours. With Hairspray already wildly exceeding expectations, it's all gravy at this point for New Line anyway.
Box office for the top ten on Tuesday combined for receipts of $20,369,042. This is a virtual wash with last Tuesday's total of $22,069,618, exceeding it by a marginal 1.4%. As far as the discussion of the number one film on the day, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, goes, I have to apologize. I know that I promised you a detailed discussion of it today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow as circumstances dictated a briefer than normal column.