Airbender Forecast/Daily Numbers
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
July 1, 2010
Forecast: The Last Airbender
It almost feels like an afterthought to discuss The Last Airbender and its box office prospects. I'm sure that when the good people at Paramount Pictures staked out the prime July 4th slot on the release schedule, they believed that a 3-D extravaganza targeted at kids had an excellent chance at success. And sure, M. Night Shyamalan has had a couple of bumps in the road recently, but he's still the guy who directed The Sixth Sense, right? RIGHT?
With The Last Airbender's arrival in theaters, it feels like it is in the shadow of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in every possible way. For example, let's look at their opening days. Eclipse opened with huge fanfare on Wednesday, including midnight sneaks that took place early on that day. You couldn't look at a news outlet or social media site that wasn't making you fully aware of the movie's presence in theaters. And fans reacted to it as you might expect. The movie shattered the record for midnight sneaks with $30 million and made about $67 million on Wednesday total (more on that in a bit).
How does The Last Airbender compare? Well, it opened with midnight sneaks on Thursday. I admit that I had no idea that the movie was opening today. I presumed it was going with the Friday slot, but I guess Paramount liked the success they had with Transformers in the past using the Thursday opening approach, and thought they'd try it with this hopeful franchise star. Well, The Last Airbender made $3 million in its midnight sneaks (note: NOT a record) and was overshadowed in the news by Twilight for the entire day.
And while BOP is generally of the opinion that reviews don't really matter, we simply have to cover them here. A lot of people are saying that Eclipse is the best movie of the the three. Yes, this is akin to saying that the Houston Astros are the best team out of the worst baseball teams in Major league Baseball, but still. Eclipse currently sits with a 50% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which is admittedly just so-so, but it's also not an embarrassment. The same can't be said for The Last Airbender, which has received scathing reviews (Ebert in particular hits it hard) to the tune of being only 5% fresh. We've even heard reports of people walking out of their midnight screenings because it was so terrible. Considering that folks who attend the late night screenings are apt to be most likely to appreciate a film, this is bad news indeed.
What does all this mean for The Last Airbender's box office potential? Well, it's likely to have a $7-8 million Thursday. If it can pull off more, the movie might be able to save itself. If its total for Thursday is lower, we're probably going to be calling it the bomb of the year. Sadly, the latter scenario seems more probable. $26 million is our forecast for the three-day portion of the weekend, which means that it will have around $34 million by the time the holiday weekend is over. And this is terrible news for Paramount, because...
...one other area where Eclipse has trumped The Last Airbender is budget. Eclipse's budget has been reported at $65 million, less than half what it cost to make The Last Airbender ($155 million). Vampires and werewolves are just that much more marketable than....airbendery...kids.