Weekend Wrap-Up

This IS It at the box office

By John Hamann

November 1, 2009

Aren't you the guy who directed High School Musical?

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Happy Halloween, everybody. The weekend of ghosts and ghouls is upon us, and because Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, it's almost a nothing weekend at the box office. It would have been purely a nothing weekend; however, 'It' showed up in the form of This Is It, the concert rehearsal movie with the now beloved Michael Jackson.

The last time Halloween showed up on a Saturday was in 1998. The top ten that year sported only one new release, the campy Vampires from horror-meister John Carpenter. That release, despite opening the day before Halloween, failed to crack $10 million, and had an opening frame of $9.1 million to take the number one spot. The top 12 films pulled in only $45.6 million, or less than half of what the following weekend's top 12 earned ($92.4 million, on the strength of Adam Sandler's Waterboy). Having Halloween on a Saturday is the death knell for movie box office, as there is just too much competition from other events over the spookiest weekend of the year. Last year, Halloween fell on a Friday, and pretty much destroyed High School Musical 3's chances of earning $100 million at the domestic box office. Halloween can be a killer, but this year, Sony was hoping it would be a Thriller, releasing Michael Jackson's This Is It over a competition-free weekend.


Michael Jackson's This Is It got off to an okay domestic start on Wednesday, October 28th, and looking at media coverage for the launch, you might think the opening was huge, when it wasn't really. Headlines roared that This Is It had earned over $20 million on opening day, however the body copy said that was an international opening, not a domestic one-day total. In reality, This Is It took in $7.4 million on opening day, and $2.2 million of that gross came from screenings held the night before. Therefore, the opening day gross was $5.2 million, with the Halloween weekend coming on fast. The Thursday gross came in at $3.8 million, off approximately 50% from the opening day total. However, as BOP's David Mumpower reported on Thursday, we need to compare the second day amount to the non-midnight showing opening day total of $5.2 million, which makes the drop more like 30%, which is much better news for the folks at Sony.

The Friday box office for This Is It came in at an excellent $7.9 million, moving beyond that midnight/opening day total. Had the Friday figure continued to sag, we would have known that This Is It was going to die on the vine and show no legs whatsoever. However, we got the opposite, which means This Is It is going to have some longer term playability. This Is It finished the weekend with a not bad weekend total of $21.3 million, albeit from 3,481 venues, or, 2,800 more screens than the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana concert movie that earned $31 million over its opening frame in February of 2008. This Is It has earned $32.5 million since opening on Wednesday, with an estimated $101 million worldwide (a number that includes that domestic total).

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