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Top 12 Film Industry Stories of 2008 #9:
Hollywood Programs the Disney Channel

By David Mumpower

January 8, 2009

Disney gets so mad at Hutchens when she plays Shirts vs. Skins.

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The musician daughter of the Achy Breaky Heart guy (face it, Billy Ray, you're a nice enough fellow but that is what is going on your tombstone) saw her film debut with $8.7 million on its first day in theaters. How strong a performance is that? Simply consider that the Rolling Stones concert movie two months later earned $5.4 million during its entire domestic run. I cannot put this in simpler terms in this. Achy Breaky Jr. wiped the floor with the Rolling Stones. If you claim you saw that coming prior to August of 2007, you're a lying liar who is currently telling a lie.

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour wound up earning $31,117,834 during its opening weekend. This set several records. The main one is that it's the best debut ever for a film with under 1,000 venues. That per-venue average of $45,561 is pretty impressive as well. The other interesting one is that it's the best Super Bowl weekend debut ever, making the Hannah Montana concert movie one of the most successful examples of counterprogramming in box office history. So successful was the movie that Disney promptly ditched their whole "it's only in theaters for a week, we swear" stratagem and left it in theaters just a bit longer. 98 days longer, to be exact. After its 101 days in release, Hannah Montana exited theaters with domestic box office of $65,280,346 against a budget of $6.5 million, making it one of the most successful movies of the year relative to budget with a cool 10:1 ratio of revenue to expense. Not coincidentally, a full-fledged Hannah Montana movie will be released into theaters in 2009.




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After Hannah Montana tore up the Super Bowl weekend box office, Disney settled upon an unusual release date for High School Musical 3. The title came out the weekend before Halloween and saw its eighth day of release fall upon the holiday itself. This led to some fascinating ripples of box office behavior. During its opening weekend, High School Musical 3 opened much wider than Hannah Montana's 683 venue debut. The third musical outing started in 3,623 locations, but managed "only" $8.9 million more. With $42.0 million, the movie was still a huge success, just not the breathtaking one that Hannah Montana had been. Seven days after its $17.0 million start, there was a brief scare when the film fell 90% Friday-over-Friday to $1.7 million, a historically unprecedented drop. This proved to be a systemic issue involving the Halloween date itself as only Jamie Kennedy's character in Scream would consider something like High School Musical 3 to be a good scary movie choice for the holiday. The movie recovered nicely over the rest of the weekend, spiking an astounding (and mathematically improbable) 389% to $8.2 million on Saturday and wound up winning the weekend with $15.3 million.

By the time High School Musical had exited theaters, it had earned $90.2 million domestically and $237.2 million worldwide. Combined with Hannah Montana, that gave Disney a grand total of $302 million worldwide for a cost of only $17.5 million. They had done the impossible by turning a pair of cable network shows into huge theatrical successes, particularly relative to budget. That's 17 dollars earned for every dollar invested, a miraculous accomplishment for the studio. Now, what BOP wants to know is when are we getting our Kim Possible movie?


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