Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Wednesday - Box Office Guru - May 5, 1999

1. "I think that the factor that everyone is forgetting is Mr. Lucas' business savy. He is already releasing commercials that cater specifically to women and mature adults. Having put forth his own money to make TPM, he would most assuredly create a film that appealed to everyone across the board, not just young men and middle-aged baby-boomers. Though the backlash has already begun, I predict that the real surprise will be how much repeat business will come from BOTH genders, ALL ages. TPM should easily close in on 200 Million before a week is through, and though competition will be steep shortly afterwards, the film should be around throughout the entire summer, and a final domestic take near that of Titanic isn't out of the question."

- Steven C. Knarr (Houston, Texas)

2. "Star Wars Episode 1 is going to rock! Personally though, I think Hollywood has become too business oriented, making movies for profit rather than for quality (Godzilla, Speed 2: Cruise Control come to mind). I mean, I've loved Star Wars ever since I was five years old, and that love certainly hasn't died out since. One thing I admire about Lucas, is that he doesn't seem to be that way. He has already said that do to the darker nature of the second and third films, he doesn't expect them to make much more then 1/2 and 1/3 of what the 1st makes. He isn't making them for the money, he's making them so he can explore the plot ideas that he's been developing for the last 22 years. (Thank God, there is some sense in Hollywood yet. Could it be that there's still hope?) But, I could care less if Star Wars makes more money than Titanic. I think Titanic was an awesome film, and I think that Star Wars might be even better. But there's too much competition, and it takes away from the quality of the movie, because everybody's so wrapped up in how much cash it will bring in. I would love to see SW1 topple Titanic, but if it's as good a movie as I think it will be, I will be just as happy with it making $50 million instead of $600 million, cause I will still think it is the best movie I've ever seen.

- J.C. Fisher (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)

3. "I'm sure that SW1 will set a record on its first week. But no way, that this one will be able to put Titanic on a second place. Titanic was a superb film. It pleased male and female people both very much. As we all know, sci-fi is mostly anticipated by men. So, forget all these stories about new records, because believe me, it will not happen."

- Eric Roelofs (Arnhem, Holland)

4. "The opening of The Phantom Menace should break all the previous records, even though it is not opening as wide as the previous record holders. The higher admission prices, along with the extrordinary hype and the lack of competition should propel it into the record books. Whether it can utlimately outgross Titanic remains to be seen. The summer competition is strong and the film will have to live up to expectations to get the repeat business that Titanic got."

- Don Tannenbaum

5. "I, personally, don't think "The Phantom Menace" can top "Titanic's" box office gross. "Titanic" was that rarest of films, one that everyone--from my 97 year-old grandmother (who remembers the Titanic's real sinking) down to virtually every 9 year old kid on the planet--wanted to see, and one that a large number of those people wanted to see over and over again. Call the latter fact a result of what Freud called repetition-compulsion, a compulsion that was very much brought about by the film's subject matter of historical trauma as well as "media mediated 'mourning and melancholy.'" (Remember all those people, Grandma again included, who were so obsessed by Princess Di's death. It's the same end-of-the-century cultural phenomenon.)

If "The Phantom Menace" is a good Star Wars film, like "The Empire Strikes Back" (or even a masterpiece, like Lucas's buddy Kurosawa used to make, and something Lucas seems to be aiming for), it will be too dark and complex for endless repeat viewings by most teens and pre-teenagers. (And it will no doubt leave many loose ends, as "Empire" did, which will frustrate a lot of people, just like "Empire" did.) On the other hand, if it's a shallow and silly Star Wars film, like "The Return of the Jedi," it will not attract adults or older teens to more than one or two viewings over what promises to be a hot summer at the movies. Sure, every regular filmgoer between 7 and 40 will be dying to see it sometime in the first couple of weeks, but to make 600 million, most of them will have to want to see it 5 or 6 times each! Lucas, who is already trying to downplay expectations, will be happy to see 400 million domestic on the first release, and maybe another 400-500 million from the rest of the galaxy, which of course will still be an amazing achievement, don't you think?"

- Daniel Humphrey (Rochester, New York)

6. "This movie will sure break records in the opening weekend but i dont think will live up to break Titanic's record. I think it may gross to 350 to 500 depending on the drops. In overseas movie market Star Wars is not appealing as in the US so I think it will gross around 1 billion."

- Ricardo Carvalho (Patos de Minas, Brazil)

7. "Lemme just say that I think Star Wars can go the limit! Hell I wouldn't be surprised if it beats Titanic or even go up to a billion. Remember folks, Titanic is only 9th or 5th or something in the all time domestic ticket sales. I actually think the right question to be asked should be whether Star Wars can actually beat Gone With the Wind as the movie with the most tickets sold...not just the biggest money making. There's no way it's gonna fall below expectations. It did not fall below expectations when 'Empires Strikes Back' came out and nobody was disappointed when 'Return of the Jedi' was released. Sure audiences want perfection and that's what they will always get with this franchise! You wanna talk about tough competition? In 1977...Star Wars had to compete against Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saturday Night Fever...among other movies....Empire Strikes back had tougher competitions against Superman II, Airplane, Blues Brothers, Escape from New York...among other movies...Return of the Jedi had to face Scarface, Superman III (poor franchise had to compete against Star Wars twice lol), Conan the Barbarian...among other movies. You know what? It rules the movie screen each year! You guys have been watching too many overhyped movies with disappointing turn-outs that you've forgotten what Star Wars is really all about. Star Wars is not like any other movie and don't expect it to be. It's never disappointed us and it won't now."

- Jonathan Pilia (Texas)

8. "Sigh. There's always a debate when it comes to these two movies, but who can blame us? Anyway, we have to think back to Titanic's release period. We all thought Fox/Paramount would never get their $200+ million back. Then, everyone talked about how good it was (special effects mostly, so keep that in mind). All the critics said Winslet couldn't act and the dialog was corny. The story was based on actual events (so people could relate) and it had a hit soundtrack. All the good elements made people go see it again and again (some reached as far as 20+ times). So, then we have to look at Star Wars. With adjusted prices it'd have made close to $800 and has the best marketing potential than any other franchise thus far. The toys will sell like crazy and the fans will try to see who can memorize the lines first (meaning A LOT of repeat business).

But, you also have to look at the downside. Fox isn't giving it 3 thousand theaters or anything like that. "Only the best," they say, so it won't be playing everywhere. And I also heard some of the showings are going to charity. We all know that it's going to be a hit and so is Fox. It may pass the record. It may fall short. But if any film had the potential to pass Titanic's record, it's this one."

- Christopher S. Wood (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

9. "I do not believe TPM will be as huge as its protagonists say. It has to be said that if it doesn't break $100M in its first weekend then it must be considered a flop. I own cinemas in Australia, none of which are taking TPM first run (some are not allowed the other which could get it wont even play 2nd run). I still believe I will take more money with Notting Hill and Austin Powers over the same period of time. Last year's cannot miss, surefire #1 hit was Godzilla."

- "Mack the Rat" (Sydney, Australia)

10. "Phantom Menace will make 450 mill domestic. Thats it. It has a built in audience like Star Trek, which always make 90 million at the box office no matter how good or bad the movie is. This built in audience consists of 14-30 year old males and nothing more. No women, really young or really old people will go see it, like they did with Titanic, and as such it has a very limited audience in comparison. Look for it to do a 120mill first week though, that will be a record for sure. But will never beat Titanic, sad as that might be."

- Lobo

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