Daily Box Office Analysis for June 27, 2007

It's Die Hard Time, Bay-bee!!!

By David Mumpower

June 28, 2007

Live free! I choose live free!

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If we do look at the above examples, however, this is what we learn. The Curse of the Black Pearl did 3.45 more on its first weekend than it did on its first Wednesday. We'll invent a term right now for this, Wednesday/Weekend Multiplier (I'm allowed to invent terms, because it's my column). I'll call it WWM for short. The WWM for Men in Black II was 2.80. Superman Returns had a dreadful WWM of 2.50 while Spider-Man 2 threw well under that at 2.18. Proving that not all comic book adaptations are frontloaded, Batman Begins had a stellar WWM of 3.23. War of the Worlds managed a solid 3.05 WWM. The Legally Blonde's sequel's WWM is 2.43. As you can see, there is a pretty broad range of WWMs here. These indicate the full spectrum of possible box office behavior for a Wednesday release.

There are a couple of studio strategies in play for such a release. One is to maximize box office as much as possible in the first five days. This is usually done in order to be able to chest-thump about a much larger opening total than what have otherwise been possible. Spider-Man 2 was expected to open lower than Spider-Man so rather than face the negative headlines of a smaller debut, Sony had five days of box office to trumpet instead. $88.2 million doesn't beat $114.8 million, but $152.4 million in five days sure sounds like it does.

Conversely, Disney faced a challenge in its submission of Pirates of the Caribbean into the marketplace. No one remembers this aspect now, but The House That Walt Built had failed completely with their first attempt to create a movie based on one of their linchpin rides. The Country Bears managed just under $17 million in its entire domestic run. Disney also knew by then that they had a stinker on their hands in The Haunted Mansion, an unfunny Eddie Murphy movie (is that redundant?) that neared only $75.8 million the November after Jack Sparrow was introduced to the world. In order to establish this brand as something special, Disney decided to show confidence in the product by giving it a relatively last minute Wednesday release. They had complete confidence in the quality of their product, so the Wednesday debut was an attempt to get people talking about pirates. Suffice it to say that this strategy was...successful.


What we must determine is how Live Free Or Die Hard fits into the equation. Is this a money grab for a movie with shaky word-of-mouth? Yes and no. Fox is making a money grab here in that they want to give their action title as many days of release as possible before Transformers enters the marketplace and crushes all puny humans, even John McClane. Word-of-mouth, on the other hand, is nothing short of glorious for the fourth Die Hard entry. Reviews are universally positive. As I type this, it has a fresh rating of 77% at Rotten Tomatoes, a huge accomplishment for a blow-em-up movie- and everyone I've talked to who has seen it was very satisfied that the franchise has discovered new life. So, I see Live Free Or Die Hard as being closer to Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman Begins in terms of WWM.

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