Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
December 20, 2011
Ghost Protocol seems complex. And haunted.
Kim Hollis: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol became the first major title to debut in IMAX prior to a full theatrical release. It opened to $12.8 million in 425 locations, a per venue average of $30,083. How impressed are you by this result? What do you think of the IMAX only opening as a business strategy?
Edwin Davies: I am very, very impressed by that figure. Owing to the low venue count and what I perceived as a lack of enthusiasm for Mission : Impossible - Ghost Protocol among most moviegoers, I was expecting a sub-$10 million opening. Once the reviews proved to be overwhelmingly positive, I re-evaluated, but I still thought that it would top out at $9 million. That it wound up with nearly double the total of its nearest competition, breaking the record for the opening weekend in limited release in the process is very, very encouraging for the film's run.
I think that the IMAX strategy is an interesting one, but not one that could be employed on a regular basis. The relative sparseness of IMAX theatres makes this release feel like an exclusive event, so if this became a regular thing I could see subsequent releases using the strategy suffering from diminishing returns. I also think that any film hoping to replicate this result would have to have either a sizable in-built fanbase or a unique selling point to really draw people to spend the extra cash. The promise of insane action scenes in IMAX seems to have drawn people in - the media attention surrounding The Dark Knight Rises prologue can't have hurt, even if it was attached to a very small percentage of the screenings - and any future release in this manner would need that level of spectacle to justify it.
Brett Beach: I am impressed with the opening well-outside of single digits, I also think it's a smart strategy for the right film, but inherently, I think it has already corrupted itself. Initially, this was going to go out to only 300 or so screens - the true IMAX screens around the country, of which there are very few - but it wound up being puffed to around 425, including simply large screens that are being allowed to bill themselves as IMAX-esque, which I find almost as annoying as the glut of 3D nowadays. But all this is in service of some sour grapes, since I wish I was close enough to an actual IMAX that was showing this as the trailers have made the action look spectacular and worthy of an oversized viewing format. Along with Tinker Tailor, Young Adult, Girl Dragon Tattoo, and The Artist, this is in my top five hope to see over the holidays.
Bruce Hall: I too am impressed by this, particularly since as has been mentioned, enthusiasm for another Mission: Impossible flick had to be tepid at best. I am even more impressed by the cleverness involving the Batman preview, which no doubt brought in anyone who wasn't already excited about seeing Mr. Cruise run away from explosions in slow motion and climb a giant phallus on a screen the size of an aircraft carrier. It turns out that the Dark Knight prologue was in fact only showing on 70mm IMAX screens (of which I believe there are 40 or so in existence), so anyone interested who was not paying attention and attended Ghost Protocol at a conventional IMAX theater, or one of those FAUXMAX screens Brett mentioned were going to be sorely disappointed.
Sorry kids. But as long as you're here, why not watch Tom Cruise run away from explosions in slow motion and climb a giant phallus on a screen the size of an aircraft carrier?
To be fair, I'm not sure how many people were actually confused by that so it's hard for me to say with certainty that eight minutes of Batman showing on 10% of the IMAX screens showing Ghost Protocol had much of an effect on these numbers. I would agree in principle that any attempt to pull this off on a regular basis would be a challenge unless the strategy was reserved for a major event film. So, I imagine that following this result there will be serious consideration to a similar "sneak preview" IMAX strategy for upcoming tentpoles such as Superman and Spider-Man.
In fact, maybe they could show the Spider-Man trailer before The Three Stooges in IMAX. I'm sure that flick is gonna need all the help it can get.