Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Friday - Box Office Guru - May 7, 1999

1. "I've predicted all along that Phantom Menace would do Jurassic Park level business I've seen nothing so far to alter that prediction. We're being told this film is the motion picture event of the decade but I wonder if people other then Star Wars fans believe that. I read with interest a story that appeared in USA Today in which it was reported that tickets to the Phantom Menace benefit showings were moving slow. Only two showings had sold out, one in Canada and the other in LA in which George Lucas was supposed to appear. Yes these tickets are expensive and one reason given for the lackluster sales was that the benefit showings were too close to the May 19th opening....still I wonder. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with advanced ticket sales. If there is little info about the advanced sales that will tell me that tickets are moving slower then expected.

I see little if any chance of this film breaking The Lost World's opening weekend record. I'm predicting an opening weekend of $60-65 mil, I think Phantom will reach $300 mil quickly, then begin it's rapid decline in the face of intense summer competition. I'm predicting a final box office ( if Phantom isn't a stinker ) of $350-400mil, very good money but certainly not Titanic. The film that topples Titanic will come out of nowhere to capture the hearts of people all around the world ( like Titanic did ). It will not be the third sequel to a 20 year old film."

- Lilann (Cleveland, Ohio)

2. "Fans sleeping around the corner for weeks, waiting for movie to sell tickets could make us realize what power 'Star Wars: Episode 1' really has. It's not just a film - it is a new religion for the '20-'30-year-old generation, and probably has the biggest fanclub in the world. Living in Europe I know what I'm talking about. The media deal with it every single day, although the movie starts in September, so the worldwide release could enjoy the strongest opening ever. Opening, I said. Cause if the movie is as bad as I wish it's not, disappointing could stronger than opening and curiosity. So $430-450M seems realistic in North America and $1.2 billion in elsewhere. National opening will be the strongest ever anyway: around 120-150M."

- Köbli Norbert (Hungary)

3. "Many people are talking about how "Star Wars I" will trash all records set by "Titanic". Here is my 2 cents. 1. Titanic's second weekend ticket sales are better than first weekend. Can you name another nationwide release that has such an achievement? Chance for Star Wars I = 5%. 2. Titanic was #1 in B.O. for 15 weeks. For Star Wars I, less than 1%. 3. Titanic was embraced by all sorts of people worldwide. From 1st world to 3rd world, men and women, boys and girls, rich and poor lined up to watch the film. Even the Chinese communist leader enjoyed Titanic and recommended it to his fellow communists. How about Star Wars I, 0.0000001%. ....... The list can go on and on. Finally, to those fanatics camping outside the cinema for tickets --- Get a life before you fall into the Dark Side."

- Bill (Queens, New York)

4. "I read the reader comments, and I was forced to laugh. The main sentiment I heard was that Phantom Menace will not capture the box office record because it does not have the demographic appeal of Titanic. If anything, it has a broader demographic appeal. However, what will determine whether it breaks the box office record, is whether or not it attracts repeat business, which in turn will be based on whether or not it is a good movie. Titanic captured the box office record based on repeat business, not because it was a good movie (although I'm not saying it wasn't) but because there were countless teenybopper girls going 6, 7 times to see Leo. If Phantom Menace can get its male audience to return as many times, it will break the box office record."

- Matt Adler

5. "Episode 1 will have a huge opening. That's obvious. It will probably break the record for an opening weekend. However, I don't think it can outlast Titanic. The key to Titanic's success was its stability. It grossed 28.6 million in its opening weekend, which is nothing close to a record. However, it never dropped. In its ninth weekend it still grossed 28.1 million. Titanic had everything. There was action, there was drama, there was romance, there was history, there were teen idols, there were special effects. There was something for everyone. I think Episode 1 will be huge, but I don't know that it can keep crowds coming back after a couple of weeks. I think it will end at around 350-375 million just because there is so much hype about it. Ultimately, it depends on whether the movie is good or not. Godzilla had incredible publicity, but was halted at the box office because of poor word of mouth. Some people predicted that Godzilla would topple Titanic's record, but it came far short. I expect Episode 1 to open big, but fall moderately."

-Aaron Alexander (Louisiana)

6. "The factor that many young girls won´t see TPM, could maybe be the reason that TPM will not beat Titanic. Titanic was a story for the family, and many saw the movie more than once. But TPM will still be a hit, that's for sure. A weak point is also that TPM only opens in 2,600 theatres and many will be disappointed when it´s sold out. Here are my predictions: May 19-23 $90 mil Total: 125; May 28-31: 60 mil Total: 215 mil; June 4-6: 45 mil Total: 290 mil; June 11-13: 30 Total: 350 mil; June 18-20: 20 mil Total: 410 mil; June 25-27 12 mil Total: 430 mil; July 2-4 10 mil Total: 450 mil; July 9-11 7 mil Total: 463 mil; July 16 5 mil Total: 472 mil $ from now on it will stabilize and make it over 500 mil $ sometime in October."

- Andreas Andresen (Denmark)

7. "TPM will have enormous box office appeal not only for its brand name, but for its time of release and for its broad demographic. This movie appeals to everyone. Like Titanic, which did tremendous repeat business, this movie will be on everyone's mind and people will want to see it again, even if the movie has so-so quality filmmaking. The fact is, this movie is an hour shorter than Titanic (more playdates), has a wider appeal (more than just the female croud and some males), and the hype surrounding it is huge, which leads to boffo publicity. I see TPM opening to around 175 million, becasue almost all screenings will be sellouts. After the first weekend, i see little declines, because almost nothing else is out there until June 11, when Austin Powers 2 comes out. That will hurt TPM depreciation a little, but i see TPM gobbling up 500 million by its 10th weekend and finishing with 800-1 billion in domestic market alone. If it reaches its full potential, it can easily get 3 billion worldwide."

- Trey Pool (Austin, Texas)

8. "I expect the Phantom Menace to gross about 60 million on Wed and Thurs, and around 120 million on Fri-Sun, and around 25 million on Monday, for a total of 205 million."

- Chris Sabo (Blacksburg, Virginia)

9. "Can TPM beat Titanic at the box-office? It's the question everybody wants to know. Probably not. There are too many movies that will be released this summer : Austin Power 2, Big Daddy with Adam Sandler (don't forget that The Waterboy grosses 160 M$ domestically), The Wild Wild West and Eyes Wide Shut. Titanic has been released on Christmas holidays, and there was no competition in the following months. TPM will probably perform very well until the first half of June and will decline more quickly after. Look for a three-day opening of 85-95 M$, a 5-day total of around 125 M$, and a final total of around 450-500 M$. It will probably surpass the 461 M$ of the first Star Wars. For the overseas grosses, it's more difficult to do a prediction. It will be something like 800 M$, for a worldwide of around 1200-1300 M$."

- Mathieu Houle (Montréal, Canada)

10. "I definitely feel that TPM has the ability to open with a massive sum of money; in the $100-125 million range in its opening weekend. However, the chances of the film grossing more than Titanic are slim to none. And for a good reason: the film has little appeal to females. Granted, there are some female fans of the Star Wars films, but it is a mostly male-followed set of films. For example, my girlfriend and sister have NO interest in seeing the TPM, but my mom does, because she saw the originals. So for that reason, and I am making a generalization, TPM won't be able to break Titanic's record at the BO. That film was made popular by women who went and saw the film over and over and over again. I also do think that reviews aren't going to be astoundingly positive. They will all say the same thing: the special effects are the best, but the script is fluff. I for one, cannot wait to see the TPM and will try and be there opening day. But in all likelihood, TPM will have to settle somewhere between $300-450 million in the US and then another $400 million overseas, which isn't all that bad. I also think that this summer's competing films will get BO boosts because of TPM sell-outs. In any event, TPM will be the biggest film of the year but will not pass Titanic."

- Nick Clement (Keene, New Hampshire)

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

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