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Friday Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower

November 1, 2008

You help people on that Burn Something show. Why won't you help me?

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A perfect storm of box office negatives led to a truly nightmarish day at the movies for new releases as well as the most famous of last weekend's titles. The news is grim across the board for Friday numbers, but there is cause to believe this was a one-off disaster rather than a systemic problem with the quality of releases.

Saw V was the best performer on Friday, earning an estimated $3.1 million. As Kim Hollis noted in her weekend forecast, the title should have seen a respectable Friday-to-Friday drop given the historical box office precedent set by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's 2003 remake. Five years ago, that title was released two weeks before Halloween, earning $28.1 million on opening weekend before falling 48% to $14.5 million in its second weekend. Over Halloween, its third weekend in release, the title fell only 25% to $10.8 million. Its Friday-to-Friday drop was only 48% and its Saturday to Saturday decline was only 21%. Using this as a model, Saw V seemed to be in good shape on Halloween. And yet...




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Saw V fell 78% Friday-to-Friday. That is not a typo. The film debuted to $14.3 million last Friday on its way to a $30.0 million debut. Yesterday, it made $3.1 million. Where in the blue hell did everyone go? This is a question being asked by most titles in the top ten, but it is the most head scratching for Saw V. Historically, horror films have held well on the most malevolent day on the superstition calendar. That didn't happen here. The good news I reference above is that films have a tendency to recover on November 1st and 2nd, assuming that past patterns hold here. Cribbing John Hamann's research, Scary Movie had a 4.3 internal multiplier (weekend box office divided by Friday box office) while Texas Chainsaw Massacre was at 4.2. If relatively the same pattern holds for Saw V minus a bit of updating for five years of more frontloaded box office behavior, it should wind up around $11.0 million this weekend. I want to offer the caveat that our friends at ERC are projecting a much lower performance of $9.4 million, so they are thinking it's just that dead in the water.

The scary thought is that Saw V has done better Friday-to-Friday than High School Musical 3. The family-friendly film that became the most successful G-rated opening of all time last weekend collapsed. I mean epically. After starting with $17.0 million last weekend, the title fell to $1.7 million yesterday. That's right. It moved the decimal point one spot over. You don't have to be that great at math to innately recognize that's a 90% drop. Ninety. Percent. I have been out all day and haven't time to research this as of yet (which is why I borrowed Mr. Hamann's work above), but I cannot ever recall a major studio release doing this before. This title was at $30 million after two days yet it won't break $50 million until its eighth day.


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