Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Saturday - Box Office Guru - May 1, 1999

1. "Let me begin by placing my bets on a $125 million opening. This will be the biggest opening in the history of the world. But will it have long legs? Don't bet on it. Here's the problem. Star Wars is a legend. The fans are unforgiving fans that will stand for nothing less than a great story with great new creatures, not just eye candy. The truth is, Lucas is a great storyteller but we are 20 years removed from what made Star Wars so original, starting with a fresh cast. Forget about that here. We all know Liam, Ewan and Samuel. They are generally typecasted and that may mean miscasting in the eyes of the loyals. Are they really going to buy Natalie Portman as the princess, or Jackson as a diplomat? I believe the casting and the camerawork is going to prove too Hollywood and dopey for fans to place it in their "dark"side. It will top out at $400 million. Great numbers, but not for this franchise."

- Chris Armstrong (Woodbridge, Virginia)

2. "I think the Phantom Menace may sell out before May 19. It will shatter the record for an opening weekend. Although this movie is THE one to see this summer, it will not bring home $600+ million like Titanic. That movie held the number one spot for 15 consecutive weekends. The competition this summer is too stiff for Star Wars to do the same. The Phantom Menace could bring in $400-500 million, but not more than that. Come on now...isn't that good enough? The Force is with us, always."

- Adam (Phoenix, Arizona)

3. "Star Wars: TPM will open HUGE. I think like $125M over the 5-day "weekend". It's a long way to making an ADDITIONAL $475M in the weeks to follow though. Movies make money because of weeks and weeks of outstanding business (like Titanic did), not because of one or even a few good weekends. It's very rare for a movie to go over $400M, so let alone $600M. I think TPM will make $475M to $500M domestically. TPM will miss the wide demographic appeal that Titanic had, which was, together with the extremely good word of mouth, the key factor to its success. People who hadn't been to the theater in like 10 or 20 years did go and see Titanic. Those people won't show up for TPM. TPM will most likely receive good word of mouth as well, but probably about its special effects and that's not what gets people back for months and months.

There's also a lot more competition at the boxoffice in the summer. Beside that, especially (young) kids will probably have other things to do during the summer and will watch it tons of times on video instead of in the theater. Beside all that, overseas Star Wars is not nearly as popular as in the USA, so in my opinion TPM has no chance whatsoever of breaking Titanic's worldwide record. My guess would be $1250M, which is amost $600M short of Titanic's $1834M."

- Rene (The Netherlands)

4. "Let's stop kidding ourselves. 'The Phantom Menace is going to be the biggest box office phenomenon of all time. Initially I expressed doubts as to whether it could topple 'Titanic' and its $600 million gross but when I saw that second trailer that was it. Just look at that trailer and try telling me that every kid in America will see the movie just once. Over here in the UK the movie is on the news and in papers everyday and it's not out until July 16. With Memorial Weekend following the week after its release it could have done around $220-250 million before May's over. It could take even more than that! Repeat business is the key to Episode 1's inevitable triumph. There is nothing else to really get excited about until 'Wild, Wild West' on July 2. I reckon only 'Tarzan' and 'Notting Hill' will survive June with good box office. The 'Phantom' is going to shred the box office to pieces."

- Tom Davies (Wales, United Kingdom)

5. "My prediction is that The Phantom Menace will have a blockbuster opening, as expected, but then will have to weather the storm of the other summer hit-wannabes in order to achieve a respective gross. Phantom has a truckload of publicity behind it, which will undoubtedly push it to extremely high grosses in the first few weeks. However, it is my opinion that Phantom will not reach Titanic heights, and may top out at around $380 - $420 million, an amount that would no doubt serve Lucas' bank account well, but will not meet the expectations of Star Wars' most loyal supporters."

- Martin Levy (Toronto, Canada)

6. "No WAY will Phantom Menace beat Titanic! I'm not saying this because as a girl, I have little interest in the Star Wars saga, and loved the doomed love story and die hard Titanic action. Titanic wasn't even expected to be a hit; in fact, it was predicted to be a bomb. With the tons of hype given to Phantom, there's no way it can exceed its very exaggerated predictions. What would society do if a movie actually greatly exceeded its wild expectations? They wouldn't know what to do."

- Joan Faulkner (Westminster, Maryland)

7. "I'm glad that I am around to be here when Episode 1 comes out because it is going to be huge!!! The anticipation of this movie has surpassed any other event in my opinion. Most movies usually have a certain sex or age group that it specializes in. Star Wars has fans in all age groups as well as different generations from the first fans from the 70's to the fans of today. I think that by May 24th the movie will be well over $100 million. Some other records I think the movie will break are quickest to $100 million, the highest domestic and international gross ever. Star Wars is already the most expensive independent movie at $115 million. I just can't get enough of the hype over Episode 1. 18 more freakin days!!!! In my opinion this movie and the whole hoopla surrounding it is one of the significant events this century."

- Jonathan Racasa (West Covina, California)

8. "As for the Star Wars Episode 1:The Phantom Menace, I do think it will set an opening ticket sales record in Canada and US, but to topple Titanic's domestic and worldwide records, it will really need to bring out the best of this movie to do that. Titanic has been an all rounder movie, with love, adventurous, violent, sex and what ever elements you can find in our life (it's true, I mean it), but in Star Wars Episode 1:The Phantom Menace, can we find such elements that can make this movie so popular, other than the magnificent special effects that George Lucas has put in?"

- Kok Chong Chan (Penang State, Malaysia)

9. "I believe that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, is looked upon as unstoppable. And in many ways this could be true. It has amazing special effects, stars people will know about, and enough fanfair to win a presidential election. But the best thing Star Wars has done is not overkill itself. Although at any movie plex you can see the trailer, it does not show much on normal TV. That way they do not overkill the film, as say Godzilla. With enough fanfare without the commercials, this has been a brilliant maneuver and should help keep a strong box office opening weekend."

- Nick Rudzianski

10. "I predict that SW1 will gross somewhere between 450 - 500 million domestic and 1250-1300 million worldwide. This is how it will happen: During May SW1 will be basically sold out every day which implies that daily grosses will vary mainly because of different ticket prices i.e. Tuesday discounts in Canada. I predict about 17 - 20 million per day ( whatever is possible on about 4000 screens ). This of course will mean that in its second weekend SW1 might gross close to 50 million and experience several % decline (brings back Twister memories doesn't it ?). After 2nd weekend some inexperienced movie analysts will predict that SW1 will beat Titanic, break all records etc. However in its third weekend SW1 will decline by about 30% and bring all those record breaking dreams to an abrupt halt. In following weekends SW1 will decline by an average of 15 - 20%. The only way SW1 will break 500 million domestic is if they keep showing it until Oscars or do something similar to Saving Private Ryan. SW1 will totally destroy Tarzan, and Wild Wild West will gross somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of SW1."

- Andrzej Kucharczyk (Cambridge, Ontario)

Previous issues : May 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

1999 Box Office Guru