Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

October 27, 2008

Whatever prayer he's doing is working.

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We welcome our Zac Efron overlords

Kim Hollis: High School Musical 3 became the biggest opening for a musical ever as it earned $42 million domestically in its first three days. It's also the first film since The Dark Knight to win domestically and internationally in the same weekend, making $40 million abroad. What do you think of this result?

Eric Hughes: Sure, it won the weekend. But I was really expecting this thing to earn a lot more in its opening frame. Of course, not all 17 million people who watched HSM2 on Disney were ever going to turn out this weekend. But I certainly thought HSM3 could handle Scary Movie 3's record $48 million October opening.

Brandon Scott: Did you really just say you expected more from this, Eric? Please tell me you are kidding. The result is a knock out of the park and it's scary to me. I guess this means more Efron and Hudgens and potentially more of these films. When a third film and fifth film in a franchise do these kinds of numbers, its a clear indication that Hollywood's original idea tank is bare. Just further clarification. Awful.

Scott Lumley: I'm sorry, but I expected this to do more as well. This is light-hearted fare featuring singing teenagers in a country that's obsessed with American Idol. You guys have to remember, there's a certain demographic of filmgoers that don't really want to be challenged or think about difficult topics. They just want to watch pretty people sing and fantasize about them or about being them. Does that say really good things about the human race as a whole? Nope. But it is what it is and if people really want to plunk down their hard earned money for a musical, then musicals are going to get made. I do have to agree with Brandon, though. We are lessened as a species by this "movie".

Max Braden: I expected it to do about this range, but I was expecting that on fewer screens than it had. $42 million is big but its $11,500 per screen average is much lower than other TV-to-theater phenoms, and the Harry Potter films. But hey, just in that opening weekend Disney made enough profit to finance the series through HSM65: Senior Citizen.


Sean Collier: To brand this the third in a franchise sort of works, and sort of doesn't. It was the first High School Musical on the big screen, and that should've been more of a draw then it turned out to be. A gigantic number this weekend would not have surprised me, and I was personally expecting at least $50 million. I'm guessing Disney was as well. If this were any other property, we'd be calling it the biggest musical of all time (which technically it is, I suppose); somehow, it still feels like an underwhelming performance.

Eric Hughes: When you've got the biggest thing on cable television EVER making the jump to theaters, you'd hope you could at least surpass Ghost Rider. I'm just saying.

Reagen Sulewski: Let's not forget that this was working with a pretty big handicap - what's the percentage of tickets for it that were full price - 15%? 10%? To invert the usual saying, the base for this was a mile deep but an inch wide.

David Mumpower: I largely agree with Eric. If you had told me in late August of 2007 that the third film would debut in theaters to $42 million, that would have been a disappointment. 17 million people is a $100 million opening weekend, even if we take 20% off the ordinary ticket average to adjust for such a predominant number of children in attendance. And that 17 million figure only reflects the Friday audience for High School Musical 2. The franchise lost some steam over the past 14 months as a portion of its outgrew the product. Even so, this is still a huge win for Disney. The film has almost quadrupled its production budget in just three days in domestic release and done roughly the same internationally. $82 million in the coffers in three days for an expense of $13 million is the stuff of box office myth and legend.

Kim Hollis: While I agree that there was probably money left on the table here (we'll discuss the reasons why in a later topic), I nonetheless think that this is a big win for Disney for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is the fact that HSM3 has blown away its $13 million budget already - and they're actually likely in a better situation than typical movie studios as far as advertising since they were able to largely push the product on their own channels and attract this much audience. Everything from here on out is gravy, and that doesn't even include soundtracks and other merchandising.

I think the second reason that this is a win is that it's actually getting positive reviews. I seriously expected to see this at around 10% when I pulled up RottenTomatoes, but it's 66% - which pushes it into the Fresh category. This gives hesitant parents incentive to actually see the film, which is even better for the bottom line. Other folks here are talking about being disappointed in the movie-going public, but when I was a teenager, I certainly wasn't watching Citizen Kane, Casablanca, or anything else highbrow for that matter. This is light-hearted entertainment that parents can consider "safe" for their children to watch. Frankly, I don't really see anything so wrong with that, even if it is the third trip to the well, so to speak.

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