Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Monday - Box Office Guru - May 10, 1999

1. "I remember a hot summer night in 1977. Standing in line to see a new movie called "Star Wars". WOW!!! And this was in a small town theater with, by today's standards, pathetic theater qualities. Face it, when "Star Wars" first came out, we movie goers weren't treated to the same experience as we are fortunate to receive now. And who is partially responsible for this upgrade in movie theaters (or at least the sound systems), well Mr. Lucas, of course. Now, will "The Phantom Menace" break all sorts of records? Will it surpass "Titanic" in overall sales? I don't think so, but then again I do not care. I am going to go see another tremendous movie from the trilogy of trilogies and savor every special effect just like we fans did in the beginning. Who could forget the first time they saw Luke shooting down an Imperial fighter on his first Millenium Falcon mission... With the advancements in 'effects' technology, even 'B' movies are containing 'good' effects, but there is more needed to make a major player in the movie market. We'll just have to wait and see how good the stories are for the earliest of the trilogies, we all know the middle stories moved the audience. And how popular will Liam Neeson be? I would imagine everyone would agree he is better known now than Mark Hamill was before "Star Wars" began. I can't say what everyone else will be doing this summer, but I for one will see "The Phantom Menace" more than once. I may not see it the first weekend, but don't worry, I will see it soon thereafter. Now bring on the popcorn...."

- Craig Blocker

2. "I've seen The first Star Wars and I think it was good and I really want to see the next one, The Phantom Menace (TPM). To compare it with Titanic (which I've seen as well), I can't comment much since both of them were just as great. But it is kind of sad for TPM because it has been hyped so much since last year and a lot of movies like that (Godzilla for example) didn't turn out like what people expected. Though they did very well in the first week, but they tumbled very badly in the next ones. Even Titanic was not expected to be a blockbuster, instead it was predicted to be a disaster, but everything just turned around. Whether TPM will break through $100M mark in 3 days, it depends on how many theaters it will be playing in. There are a lot of restrictions from the distributor and they might hurt its gross. I predict TPM will gross about $500M in North America and also $500M in international markets (around $1 billion overall)."

- Fendy Lie (Melbourne, Australia)

3. "Look at it this way... Jurassic Park made 350 mil. and nobody felt really strongly about the film, it wasn't universally loved and let's be honest, it's not that great. Being released in more theatres, at a higher cost per ticket, with greater publicity, and all-around the assurance of a better film, Star Wars should crush that film into the Triassic Period. Titanic? Don't count on it. in nerdy terms: 500 < Star Wars < Titanic."

- Brett Aurit

4. "Let's all say front-loaded, shall we? A film such as TPM with this unprecedented hype is going to easily make record breaking numbers its first 5 days. However, I would agree with some other remarks in this forum that coming out in front of the summer season puts TPM against much more formidable competition than Titanic had. Titanic had incredible holding strength with 15 weeks on top of the boxoffice. Also, the Oscar hype certainly didn't hurt it either. I believe that TPM could see a silly but very real backlash if it doesn't live up to the "otherwordly" hype discussed above. May I remind everyone, "The Star Wars Trilogy" is a film icon. Phantom Menace better be damn good. It could also be possible that the hype could start to kill the interest, You know the "I'm sick of hearing about it" platitude. One more comment is that TPM is a sequel/prequel whatever, and followup films often don't do as well as their predecessors. To summarize, TPM is gonna be big, but NOT that big!! Good luck to Phantom Menace though. I'll be in line!!"

- Daniel Welsh

5. "Face it everybody. "Titanic" sucked. It was so weak in plot, acting, and all around quality that nobody ever realized it until after it had $600M dollars of America's money. The fan base "Star Wars" has is so incredibly large that it should topple the record that "Titanic" set domestically by September or October. I know everybody is saying "Well there's too much competition". Ok let's think about this. "Austin Powers 2" should do about $150M, "Big Daddy" will probably make half of what "The Waterboy" did, "Wild, Wild, West" is an inevitable bomb, it looks terrible and Will Smith's last movie ("Enemy of the State") was not exactly boffo (Just over $100M), "South Park" will bomb for sure, the fan base is gone, and lastly, "Eyes Wide Shut" opens late in the summer, not a worry."

- Marc

6. "Certainly the Phantom Menace will face far tougher competition than Titanic due to the timing of the release. The opening weekend record (Lost World) will be destroyed as will the 10 day cume and so on. In fact, this movie will reach every dollar milestone up to $400 million faster than any in history. As far as the domestic and worldwide final grosses go, this will depend on whether the 1977 phenomenon occurs again. There is a huge fan base for the movie. Multiple visits from teenage boys (just as Titanic received from teenage girls) will play a key role in the long term results. Of course the true measure of box office power would be if the two movies had come out at the same time. I don't think there is any question Titanic would have been dwarfed."

- Will Cobb (Birmingham, Alabama)

7. "Will the new Star Wars beat Titanic? No one can know for sure. The first reviews are out and they are lukewarm at best- but luckily also at worst. I have a feeling as the unreasonable expectations of TPM die down the reviews will get better. But they could still hurt its BO performance. Next: the crossover appeal. Titanic did not have big crossover appeal, I'm sorry. The biggest audience was females and they dragged many males (even though they ended up liking it). Much of the same will likely happen with TPM as Star Wars audience is reported at 35 to 40 percent female. The biggest setback in my opinion is that it is being released when all the other summer blockbusters are being released. Best scenario: a stellar Star Wars film cuts the legs out of much of the competition. Final domestic gross of 500-650 million. World-wide gross reaching 1 to 1.3 billion. Worst scenario: a so-so Star Wars is swept away by the other summer blockbusters. Final domestic gross of 350-425 million (amazing that it can be considered a disappointment with this much money!). World tally of 7-8 billion."

- Josh Dakin (Ontario, Canada)

8. "Let me first say that I don't believe that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace can unseat Titanic as the #1 box-office film ever, but I believe it definitely will make it into the Top 10 ever, possibly the Top 5. Titanic was a holiday release, and had hardly any movies in it's way to $600 million; Star Wars will have a whole load of summer films in its way, and it probably won't have the same kind of repeat business as Titanic, so I highly doubt Star Wars will crush Titanic. But here are my predictions: For the 4-Day Memorial Day Weekend, I think it will take in about $85-$95 million. I doubt it will beat The Lost World's opening, because Star Wars is opening in much fewer theaters. But in its first 6 days, I think Star Wars will make about $120 million. In its second weekend, I predict about $45 million, and about $32 million for it's third. I predict a final gross of about $375 million, not too shabby, but not what everyone is expecting. I hope I'm wrong, but I can't see Star Wars' business doing any better."

- BartS405

9. "First off, letís put Mr. "Caleb Lester of Auckland, New Zealand" in his place. If he works in "da biz" in New Zealand, he obviously feels inferior about New Zealandís almost non-existent film industry and criticizes Hollywood for never giving him a break. Who is he to assume weíre all "kids" devouring box office revenues as if weíre "Gordon Gekkos"? Iíd be insulted, but at least I have a job in "da biz," in Hollywood, not Kiwi land, and at least I know every film is essentially a business that has a beginning and end. If you donít make your money back on your investment, your business is a failure. George Lucas doesnít want his pride and joy to financially fail. And whoever in "da biz" bet "thousands of dollars" against Mr. Lester in New Zealand that Star Wars would outgross Titanic must have the same value of money as the business executives at Universal who invested thousands of dollars to develop Peter Jacksonís remake of "King Kong" in New Zealand, only to see the project shelved after "Godzilla" failed miserably at the box office, effectively throwing their development money down the drain."

- Hamish Zooa (Samoa)

10. "While I am an avid Star Wars fan I do not see Star Wars breaking Lost World's record. The reason being that Lucas has the film opening in 'only' 2500 or so theaters. I predict a 5 day tally of $75 million. The 2nd week will be astounding also grossing in that 4 day weekend $70 million. After that expect a drop to $30 million. Then $25m,then $20,then a slow decrease from there until a final gross of $447 million. This Summer is too crowded(even for Star Wars) to expect a Titanic size gross."

- "Little Mac"

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