Spidey Beats Sparrow
By David Mumpower
May 6, 2007
I find the thought process a bit odd, but given Spider-Man's staggering budget of $300 million – more than the gross national product of many developed countries, the final film in the trilogy is not the financial slam dunk it might seem on paper. The good news is that the arcane cineplex/distributor rules for revenue sharing greatly favor Sony this weekend. Keeping 85% of Spider-Man 3's profits would mean $125 million already in the coffers; however, the split goes down significantly after that, eventually reaching a near-balance of 55%/45%. With questions arising about Spider-Man 3's lasting appeal, international receipts are going to be key to this being the windfall its opening weekend numbers would make a casual observer believe it to be. Since both prior Spidey movies have earned $410 million internationally, that's not a problem, particularly given that the film is already off to a scintillating start abroad. It has reportedly earned $225 million internationally already. This thought process simply drives home the point of how much is on the line with each blockbuster's release this summer. Even a title with a record-shattering opening isn't guaranteed to make the big bucks domestically these days due to the spiraling costs of production budgets.
Outside of the movie studios themselves and possibly some of the talent involved on the projects, absolutely no one cares about the rest of the top ten. This point was mercilessly driven home on Friday when Spider-Man 3 earned $49.2 million more than the rest of the top ten combined. BOP has long argued that competition is overrated, but when one movie is a factor of 6.6 bigger than everything else in total, this isn't the week to sell that philosophy. The difference between first and second place this time is, in the immortal words of Larry Miller, the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. The thrown bullet in this scenario is former three time champion Disturbia. Shia LaBeouf's surprise hit falls 37% this weekend with a total of $5.7 million, giving it a running total of $59.9 million. In a year of success story after success story, no film's performance is more of an upset than this 21st century Hitchcockian thriller.
Finishing in third and fourth place this frame are Fracture and The Invisible. The latter film, featuring Justin Chatwin of War of the Worlds, managed only $3.1 million this time out, a decline of 59% from last weekend's lousy debut of $7.7 million. The running total of $12.3 million isn't going to turn Chatwin into a household name by any stretch. Of course, being a household name isn't helping Sir Anthony Hopkins any. His latest effort, Fracture, falls a scary 50%, meaning it's almost done at the box office. Then again, the weekend total of $3.4 million would have told you that as well. A running total of $26.5 million is the end of the line for Fracture.
Rounding out the top five is Next, another of last weekend's dismal failures. Nicolas Cage's presence meant absolutely nothing here, as is demonstrated by a forgettable weekend of $2.8 million and an even more dishonorable running total of $11.8 million.
Way down in sixth place is the other new opening this weekend, Lucky You. The universally ignored poker movie failed completely, earning only $2.5 million. Released in 2,525 venues, this performance represents a per-location average of $998. Just so we're clear, that is 1/35th of Spider-Man 3's per venue average of $34,807. That's a Washington Generals vs. Harlem Globetrotters-level blowout. Given that the movie has been completed for almost two years now and only received release this weekend, we shouldn't be too surprised. Critics were more positive than I had expected in that only 72% of them hated it. Presumably, the other 28% were well medicated by the time they got to the theater.