Daily Box Office Analysis for July 30, 2007

By David Mumpower

July 31, 2007

74 million divided 36 ways is still a lot of dough.

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The Simpsons Movie had a debut this weekend that was considered so shocking that even Fox execs were taken aback. The vice-president in charge of distribution indicated that the movie was expected to make $40 million, while the president said after the fact that it had been tracking at roughly $55 million. The question that follows is why there is a $15 million variance between the two employees, but given that this is Fox, we'll just assume it's all Rupert Murdoch's fault and leave it at that.

What is important here is that The Simpsons Movie is a bona fide blockbuster. In fact, it is one of the five largest openings ever for a non-sequel as well as the biggest opening ever for a traditionally animated title. In determining its box office behavior for weekdays, that's where the fun begins. See, there is not a model for this one. None. As one of the most popular openings of all-time as well as the first true television-to-movie adaptation of a still-airing show to ever break out, it is a phenomenon unto itself. As someone who bases future expectations on models of past behavior, this is...problematic.

Fear not. I have a plan. I am going to take the easy way out. It's what those who have learned all of their life lessons from Homer Simpson love to do. The plan here is simple. We are going to compare The Simpsons Movie to the two most recent $70 million openers, Transformers and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Before doing so, however, I want to explain why this probably isn't the best idea.


The Simpsons Movie performed in a quirky way this past weekend. Its daily splits were $30,758,269 on Friday, $23,799,369 on Saturday, and $19,479,149 on Sunday. Folks, this is a movie that had a 22.6% drop on Saturday as well as Sunday box office representing only 63.3% of Friday box office. That screams of front-loading, right? This has been the debate amongst the BOP staff over the past 48 hours. The reason why it's not settled is simple.

Friday estimates had The Simpsons Movie pegged at $29 million. As such, expectations for the weekend fell in the range of $70-$72 million. As it turns out, the movie earned more than that on Friday, and it also exceeded weekend estimates by a comfortable $2.1 million over the initially stated $71.9 million BOP reported on Sunday. An actual weekend total of $74,036,787 indicates that The Simpsons Movie surprised on Friday, it surprised for the entire weekend, and its overall performance has been nothing short of jaw-dropping thus far. It also means that we should not have firm expectations for the future behavior of a movie that has already proved unpredictable every step of the way thus far.

Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at yesterday's box office. As expected, The Simpsons Movie finished in first place, earning an impressive $9,277,515. How does this line up with Transformers and Order of the Phoenix? It's dead last, but don't let that fool you just yet about how it's doing. We'll get to the why of it in just a moment. First, let's address the actual dollars involved. Transformers earned $9,927,640 on its first Monday after a weekend debut of $70,502,384. So, it had only 95.2% of the opening that The Simpsons Movie did yet had a bigger first Monday by 7.0%. Order of the Phoenix earned $77,108,414 in its first weekend then followed it up with $10,415,480 on the following Monday. So, it had a bigger weekend by only 4.1% but a bigger Monday by a full 12.3%.

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