Women Want Their Sex
By David Mumpower
June 1, 2008
The $55.7 million question is how Warner Bros. managed this result with a property much less ubiquitous than The Simpsons. Sex and the City approached that film's $74 million opening weekend despite the dramatic difference between the two titles in terms of overall customer awareness. The key is that The Simpsons Movie appealed to anyone who had seen the show to at least some degree. Due to its lessening reputation in recent years, however, it did not have the "Gotta See It in a Theater" push it might have if the show not been currently running on Fox. Sex and the City, on the other hand, had overwhelming awareness with the one target audience it needed - women. It also had been off the air for four and a half years now, making a movie property involving the title feel like a one-time special event to consumers.
The end result was that women planned parties around visits to the theater, making the viewings of Sex and the City almost secondary to the celebrations surrounding it. It became the very definition of an event film, a title that women planned entire evening gatherings around. The film behaved as a different version of The Passion of the Christ, getting people into theaters who otherwise haven't gone in the past several years. It also has performed in a fashion best described by BOP's James Wood as a female Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace, creating singularly unprecedented demand amongst an otherwise completely ignored target audience. Metropolitan women had to see Sex and the City and they preferred this to happen Friday night. That means the title will not demonstrate the legs of the aforementioned The Devil Wears Prada, which earned a factor of 4.5 beyond what it made on opening weekend. Even so, that title's $124.7 million worth of final box office appears to be within striking distance for Sex and the City, even if it is as heavily front-loaded as expected. Warner Bros. has a spectacular win with this, the most surprising box office development of the summer and possibly the year.
The news is not glorious for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It obviously was upset in its second weekend by the upstart release, Sex and the City. Both major industry resources, Variety and Hollywood Reporter, had relayed industry expectations indicating this would not happen. The fourth installment of the Harrison Ford franchise fell 54% to $46 million. When evaluating the depreciation, it's important to consider that last weekend's $100.1 million result was holiday-inflated.
Even so, in terms of actual dollars, Crystal Skill has failed to match the second weekend performance of its primary contender for the summer box office crown (at least until The Dark Knight gets here), Iron Man, the fourth place finisher this week. The Robert Downey film accumulated $51.2 million in its second weekend, $5.2 million ahead of Indy. Then again, Indy's 11-day total of $216.9 million puts it ahead of Iron Man's $181.7 million in the same time frame. As we move further into June, however, Crystal Skull may have spotted the Marvel title too much of a lead to make up the difference. Another solid drop of only 32% gives Iron Man $14 million this weekend as well as a running tally of $276.6 million. While Crystal Skull is celebrating its crossing the $200 million barrier, it is no longer certain to earn north of $300 million. Iron Man, on the other hand, appears quite likely to accomplish this feat.