Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Wednesday - Box Office Guru - May 12, 1999

1. "The initial reaction to the previews has cast major doubts on the life expectancy of TPM. I am pretty sure that Lost World's record is gonna be smashed, but after that I have my doubts as to whether even the original Star Wars total can be reached. With so much hype surrounding the movie it will be almost impossible for it to live up to everyones expectations and come May 19 there will be some disgruntled fans. What remains to be seen is how many people will be motivated to go for second and third helpings, the key to a big gross lies there. Being a Star Wars fan since I was around 7, I have great faith in George Lucas' ability to entertain an audience, so no matter what the crictics have to say, he may get the better of them yet. As far as I'm concerned there's no better way to end the 90s than with a new Star Wars flick. Whatever its eventual gross may be TPM is gonna be the biggest thing in movies for a long time to come (yes even bigger than that ship at the bottom of the ocean)...... that is of course until Episode 2......!"

- Sharmilan (Karachi, Pakistan)

2. "Titanic will sink on this one. Let's not forget that Titanic made only 25 million on its opening weekend, then rode the #1 slot for about 15 weeks. Star Wars will earn 130 million its first weekend, socking away Titanic's first 5 weeks of biz. In its second week Star Wars will take 70 million, putting 3 more of Titanics #1 weekends behind it. For the next 7 weeks, look for Star Wars to post an average of 15-18 million. There is no way Star Wars will erode into nothingness this summer. Even though there are lots of blockbusters coming out this summer, they will fade quickly (with the exception of Eyes Wide Shut). Look for Star Wars to earn about 800 million - 1.2 billion in our sweet domestic territory. I agree with our Titanic protectants, that SW will have a hard time meeting Titanic's cume overseas. I expect 900 million -1.0 billion overseas. We cannot fotget the millions of people who have been tormented for 15 years waiting for a new Star Wars film. Just as teenage girls drove Titanic to it's 600 million dollar tally, the boys will drive TPM to victory! DOWN TITANIC!"

- Robert Abate

3. "Too all of the people who think that TPM will let people down, think again!! This movie is the most anticipated movie of the century!!! It will easily gross over $1 billion in the first month alone, the movie theaters will be packed for every showing for the first month at least, if not the 2nd and 3rd. All of you people who think the acting is bad, christ you have only seen about 4 min of the movie total, and how many words did you hear?? Probably less than 50, how can you consider that acting, when Yoda is talking in the first trailer about "fear leads to anger.....anger leaders to hate..." that is about the coolest damn phrase I have ever heard in a movie!! The FX are the best ever, TPM will revolutionize the art of Special FX's.....It will set the standards for any other movie....All I have to say is that you people who are listening to critics talk about the movie, think this way: They are old people around like 50-60, and they were still around 40 yrs old when Star Wars came out, so they never went to see the movie then, so what the heck makes you think that they are going to see the movie now?!?!?!?!?! That's what I thought, don't ever listen to critics like Siskel & Ebert and the like, cuz they are just dumb old folks that don't know crap about what us real movie goers like to see!!!!!!!"

- Ryan Klein (Whitewater, USA)

4. "I wish box-office analysts would stop the practice of adjusting b.o. records for inflation. True, ticket prices have dramatically increased. But what they fail to mention is the playing field is vastly different than when GWTW made its run in 1939. Admissions had declined by 1/2 in the 1950's and have never recovered. Why? Television; nearly every home had one. For decades the only way to view GWTW was in theaters. It also benefited from multiple re-releases before appearing on tv/video. SW and ET enjoyed years of re-issues before succumbing to tv/video. Today's blockbusters' legs are arthritic compared to the pre-TV era. If SW,ET, Titanic were released in 1939 they would have pulled in GWTW #'s. Other than televisions disappearing tomorrow, Jesus Christ would have to appear in a movie to bring in pre-tv admissions. Adjusted for inflation B.O. charts are artificial and inconsistent. Put differently, 2 billion didn't go into MGM's account for GWTW, 200million did. And no amount of statistical revisionism is going to convince me otherwise. As for Lucas's film, the only way SW1 is going to sail past Titanic into the record books is if George badgers theater owners into increasing the price of admission to $20."

- Jeff Morin (Maui, Hawaii)

5. "Star Wars WILL NOT break Titanic's record. Why? Firstly, because people like my parents, who have never been to the movies in their life, went to see Titanic. Why? Because all my uncles and aunts, who have never been to the movies in the last 20 years saw Titanic and recommended they go. I can guarantee you none of them have any interest in seeing TPM and it'll be raining on mars before they'll go see another movie. It's people like these who made Titanic reach sales beyond $1 billion. Secondly, there is NO romantic element to TPM, unlike Star Wars or Titanic. I saw the 2 trailers and I was greatly dissappointed. This looks like a flick primarily aimed for kids. Insiders say George Lucus has been quietly and cleverly working on the script for Episodes 1, 2 and 3 for the last 12 years trying to refine it and perfect it. I think he fell short. There is too much hype. Just look at the re-releases of the 3 star wars movies last year. There was big interest for Star Wars. Then Empire only made half of Star Wars. And then hardly anybody saw Return of the Jedi. People are getting tired. They want something new, original. TPM is much of the same. Nothing new is here to stir up the excitment. Look for an opening of $110 million. Domestic tally of $400 million, and worldwide sales of $800. Overall a much over-hyped dissappointment."

- Harry Manning (Toronto, Canada)

6. "LETS GO!!!! what is this junk about Star Wars beating Titanic, or Titanic beating Star Wars. Who cares! We the star wars fans been waiting for this for over 15 years. Who cares how much money it makes, I want to know how it all began, how one little boy changed the federation as we know it, and how one little jedi knight (Yoda) changed the way we think. Im not worried if it breaks any records, I believe that George does not care either, he made this film for effects, sound, and a understanding why 4,5,and 6 were made. So I say LETS GO, and see what we been waiting for."

- "Primo One"

7. "I think Star Wars will end up at around $450-500 million dollars here. One reason: It is only opening in about 4000 theaters. A full spread needed for it to beat the Lost World would have to be closer to 5500-6000 theaters. Even opening up in only 4000 theaters, Star Wars WILL see $100 million dollars or more after it first 7 or eight days. Second reason: Although Star Wars is being trumped up as some sort of technicological breakthrough, the type of repeat business needed to give Star Wars the kind of numbers Titanic had will probably not happen. It IS a SEQUEL, which means a lot of things going on in the movie have been seen before. A lot of people will see it once or even twice because of the special effects, but the people who saw Titanic 33 times saw it because it was a great story that included special effects. The special effects in the Phantom Menace are not just incuded in the story, but sometimes add up to more importance than the story. After the special effects are nothing anymore because people have seen Star Wars twice or even three times, then something new came along to grab their attention. Third reason: When the first (or fourth) one came in 1977, there was hardly sci-fi out there for it to compete with. We live in an age created by the success of Star Wars, Close Encounters, and Jaws. This summer, there is much more to see, especailly sci-fi, then just Star Wars. It will have some definite competition."

- Andrew Suing (Omaha, Nebraska)

8. "When SW1 opens, look for it to break several records by the end of the month: First, it will break the record for opening weekend and gross between $100 and $125 million by Sunday night. It will definitely break through the $200 and $300 million marks in record pace, considering that it will benefit from having its second weekend as a holiday and will therefore gross around the $80 million mark for the 4-day weekend. It will definitely suffer from competition this summer, however, and conclude its run somewhere between $450 and $500 million."

- "Anon1018"

9. "I am predicting an initial mammoth gross for Star Wars:Episode I:The Phantom Menace. Star Wars has almost attained the status of a religion, so the die-hard fans will see the movie at least eight times each. The opening weekend should surpass 100 mil, probably 105 mil, and steadily lose twenty to twenty five million dollars following. When Austin Powers comes out, they should have have grosses similar to Titanic and Tomorrow Never Dies on their first weekend, except I think Ap2 should get roughly 35 mil, with star wars getting 30. If the movie is good, Titanic's record is sunk. If it is a B- movie, it will finish at 550 million with an opening weekend, second weekend, and third weekend record."

- Hansen

10. "The Phantom Menace will break many box office records. The question is...can it beat Titanic's domestic gross? That is a tough question to answer. Even George Lucas has said he does not think that The Phantom Menace will beat Titanic. I believe if The Phantom Menace lives up to everyone's expectations, here is what I see it doing...It will break the 5-day opening weekend record and it will beat the 3-day opening record. I predict that TPM's Wed.-Sun. total will be around 155 Million. It will do great that whole next week and then it will dominate the Memorial Day weekend. It will break all Memorial Day weekend records. After that weekend (it's second week) TPM's total should be around 315 Million dollars. Due to nothing major opening it's third weekend, it's total should be around 445 Million. The fourth weekend is where the Summer Blockbusters will be opening. By the end of it's fourth weekend, I see TPM's total being around 520 Million. After it's fifth weekend, I see TPM's total being around 577 Million. After it's sixth weekend, I see TPM's total being around 615 Million. I predict that The Phantom Menace will end up with a domestic gross between 650 - 700 Million dollars. If TPM is good but does not live up to expectations, I predict a domestic gross between 390 - 420 Million. Either way, it is going to be fun to watch."

- Jim B. (Orange County, California)

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

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. Then, check back for daily box office reports on the performance of Episode I beginning on May 20th.

1999 Box Office Guru