Weekend Predictions: 10-10-08

So, it’s another big movie weekend, with four movies debuting on over 2,000 screens- 10,001 between them. I’ve done some more research and feel a little better in the constants I’m using. Four showings per screen per day seems to be a frequently used number, so I’m leaving that alone, but I increased the average ticket price to a more current $7.09, up from the 2007 price of $6.88- about a 3% increase. That falls in line with most recent data where a few years of 2-4% increases follow a year of a 5% or higher increase. 2007 saw a 5% increase, so 3% would be reasonable. I couldn’t find a solid source on the average number of seats per theater. A Forbes article from 2005 stated The National Association of Theater Owners used 300 seats as an average, so I used that. With my numbers, if an average theater sold out a screen for the day, the total would be $8,508, or $25,524 for the weekend.

Also as a standard, I’m using opening weekend box office totals of the past four movies for the director, two biggest stars, most experienced producer, distributor, and recent movies of a similar genre (which I got from with the help of keywords on IMDB).

As the formula currently stands:

((total opening weekend box office for the six elements listed above)/(total opening weekend screens for those six)) X number of screens of opening weekend release

This weekend’s widest release is The Express, on 2,808 screens. Most of the opening weekend averages for the elements in the equation were between $4,000 and $6,000, pretty pedestrian from what I’ve seen since the predictions started. The one element that stood out was the distributor, Universal Studios, who averaged $9,250 for the weekend. With rare exceptions, anything close to $10,000 means it’s a hit and will probably earn a nice profit, so Universal is doing something right. They’re trying their hardest with the ads, laying on the bombastic music and seemingly always including the “You’re damn right you are!” line in every commercial. I think the real drawback for the movie is the lack of a big name. Dennis Quaid is good, but he doesn’t have the draw he used to. I calculated $6,096 per screen for a total of $17,117,405 for the weekend. I thought it sounded a little high, but that equates to 72 tickets per showing- a 24% fill rate. Put that way, it doesn’t really sound unreachable.

The second biggest release is Body of Lies, on 2,710 screens. Even without looking at the numbers, you can see the solid pedigree of Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, and Ridley Scott. Five of the six elements averaged between $7,000 and $8,000 per screen, real solid numbers. The dog is Warner Bros. They’ve only averaged $4,389 for the past four movies, but that isn’t enough to derail the whole thing. I got a per screen of $7,242 and a total of $19,626,010. That’s 85 tickets per showing- 28% full. With the big names and award potential, that should be a pretty easy mark to hit.

I wanted to include the spreadsheet with all the details, but I didn’t have enough time to make it very pretty. I plan on including it with next week’s predictions.

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