Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Tuesday - Box Office Guru - May 11, 1999

1. "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is destined to sink Titanic! And Yes the pun was intended. I forecast that TPM will break 100 million in its first 5 days! It is estimated that 2.1 million people will be taking May 19th off from work to see the film opening day and that is just the die hard fans! It don't matter what else is playing this summer people will flock to see TPM. Many like myself who classify themself as a true fan,(not as extreme as diehard) will try to see the film sometime during the first week of the run. Then will later take the rest of family as an excuse to see it again. Then take their parents to get a chance to see it a third time. I predict that TPM will be sold out every day of its first two weeks, then for 4 to 6 weeks after that the evening shows will be sold out. It will be difficult to get tickets during the first two weeks. Also, one more thing, TPM is a whole hour shorter than Titanic, which translates into more screenings per day, per week, per month, meaning more money coming in per day per sold out screenings of TPM. That's how TPM will sink Titanic and its records along with it. May the Force be with you!"

- Eric Wanner (Salt Lake City, Utah)

2. "Ok, I'm cheating because I've just gotten through reading various no-look-um reviews in Time, Newsweek, LA Daily news and elsewhere where they're panning the film. Does it matter? Umm, yes and no; Make no mistake, Star Wars is about as close to critic proof as a film gets. Critics will often lambaste such a film especially. And yet.....! If it offends the sensibilities of the target aud, (many of whom still bristle at the very thought of the Ewoks) then mass repeat business will go a wanting. So far the criticisms have to do with the acting, the dialogue and the mass use of digital fx for almost everything, (although you wonder if they would be criticizing it if they didn't know precisely what scenes used it); that probably won't be enough to dissuade the hard core or the casual aud. However, I don't think you can ratchet up Titanic numbers for it; there's just nothing that will pull in women over 18, (except maybe their kids). In fact, adults period may have already grown weary of the hype, and if word spreads that it's a lame-o storyline, that may seal it."

- David Brown

3. "When I was a kid, I saw Star Wars' first release in France (1978) (yep i know it's 1977 in the USA!!!) and i enjoyed it a lot like the 2 others. For its time,it was magic,spectacular and never-seen-on-screen but 22 years later when i saw the first trailer of the TPM,i wasn't sure it will be as good as the old ones. I think TPM will begin with a mammoth start like $100 million on the first weekend of its release or maybe more (typically american to go the quickest possible see the hottest film on its 1st release week!!) but (it's only my opinion) i think the quality of this prequel is very poor and after 2 or 3 big weeks TPM will slowdown seriously only because of its poor intrigue and quality. I didn't see the movie so it's only assertions but with all the trailers shown , i'm quite sure that TPM will deceive Star Wars fans or regular intensive moviegoers like me. Let's say its final domestic will be $350 million or maybe less!! and its world B.O at less then a billion."

- Enrico Andreotti (France)

4. "As much as I loved Titanic, The Phantom Menace will easily break ALL of its records...for the following reasons. This is not "JUST a sequel". It is THE most anticipated movie in history. The huge audiences from 1977-1983 are now 25-45 years old...these fans plus younger fans in the 5-25 age group guarantees the largest fan base in movie history. For the opening weekend, DO THE MATH!!! 2500 top-notch screens, 400 seats/screen, 6 showings a day (probably up to 10 at around-the-clock theatres), 95% capacity, 5 days, $6 for an average ticket...equals...$171 million during the first 5 days!!! Of course, my assumptions may be low...the bottom line is that it will be playing to capacity audiences at the best theatres in North America. I'm predicting $175 million in first 5 days and over $300 million by the end of May. With these numbers, it will cruise past Titanic in July on the way to a gross of $750 million or more."

- Brian Murphy (Toronto, Canada)

5. "No offense to all you Star Wars fans out there, but there is no chance that The Phantom Menace will break Titanic's box office record. I attend Stuyvesant High School, where there are many Star Wars fans, however most of the other kids that I have spoken to said the preview sucked, and they would not go to see it if it didn't get great reviews from non fans of the original. If Star Wars can not get children, and women to see it, I do not think that it will even be able to break $300 million."

- Irith2000

6. "TPM looks laughably like a bad star trek episode, and after the hype settles, it will clear an obligatory 200-300 mill by summer's end. it will stall domestically as a result of stiff competition and oversaturation. worldwide grosses will be less than most predict- after all lucas can only get so far on special effects and fancy headwear. he should have learned to write and/or direct by now, but don't bet on it."

- Joel (Nashville, Tennessee)

7. "I just want to say that no movie has been able to unseat Star Wars for over 15 years - and why do you think that is, because of repeat business. Only in the last two years a movie was finally able to break the SW record.... SO WHAT! SW was the Mecca of repeat business and Episode I will keep the tradition going! So for all you people that are clinging on to Titanic's $600 Million, I just want to say the love affair is over. And don't you Titanic people tie up the phone lines when I am trying to buy tickets."

- Agent86

8. "Nothing will stop this film, come opening weekend. About everyone I know is gonna head down to the movie theater, even if they can't get in. May 19th will be a day to remember. PHANTOM will shatter $100, probably doing around 150 or so. Expect NOTTING HILL to be huge for a few weeks. That film might open at around forty or fifty million. After the first week, PHANTOM will creek down to 100, and then 75, and then suffer depreciations of 15-25%, eventually capping off with around 500 million or so. Though it won't break Titanic's record, it will kill it in terms of merchendise, rides, videos and the like. But remember: there is no "suck-free" button on this movie. If it does suck...and I really hope I'm wrong...this might be the biggest bust in entertainment history."

- Orwvon

9. "SWE1PM will have the largest Wednesday - Sunday gross in box office history. With the limited Theater opening it may have a tough time breaking the weekend record, but that may be alleviated by theaters playing the flic in more than one theater and/or keeping theaters open later. Theaters are now equipped to play one print in as many theaters as they care too, feasibly all that are on one side. The one in my hometown may actually play it in 4 of its 9, using 2 prints. Judging the trailers, PM will not only meet the fanatical expectations of its wide and varied audience, but will exceed them to the extent that it will force people to view it a second and third time. The film will have legs, and even though it will relinquish number one to WWW the week it opens, it will be the third film this year to reach first a second time in its run. The question is will this era - defining flic envelop Titanic. The answer? Check with Mr. Pandya aka, The Box Office Guru, around October. I'm certain he'll have the facts."

- Virgil K. Reed

10. "With the much-anticipated Phantom Menace parading into theatres in a couple of weeks...we Star Wars fans can only hope that this fourth installment in the saga will not be this year's Godzilla. The opening weekend looks very promising for The Phantom Menace because of some awesome trailers and an exciting new cast. It has been at least 15 years since the last Star Wars and we all should be sceptic about the so-important opening weekend...everyone was waiting for Godzilla, and it bombed. Will Phantom Menace do the same!?!"

- SSHSTrack

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

Submit your thoughts on the box office potential of Star Wars : Episode I. Email your comments (200 words or less) including your name, city, and country of residence. Box Office Guru will feature new reader comments daily in the Phantom Menace Reader Forum beginning on May 1st and continuing until the May 19th release date.

1999 Box Office Guru