Phantom Menace Reader Forum

Sunday - Box Office Guru - May 16, 1999

1. "The Star Wars backlash has begun. I walk into my grocery store and see it everywhere. It's on every channel, in every newspaper and on every product. I know more people who just want it to all end than people who want to see it. The film will open huge, no question. I'm sure it will have $100 million in the first several days. Given the unbearably excessive hype and the negative reviews, however, I think the necessary repeat business will not materialize. Given the $115 million budget, its going to be a huge success, but I think it should send a shot across Lucas' and all of Hoolywood's bow -- cut down on the hype. It killed Godzilla (OK the movie stank too) and it's going to hurt The Phantom Menace. Don't worry, I'll be there...but I'm not as psyched up as I thought I'd be. We're looking at $375 million U.S. and about $1 billion overseas."

- Bob Reilly

2. "For everybody's information, Titanic is NOT the box office king of all times. More people have seen E.T. and Star Wars IV in their first release than Titanic. In 1997/1998 dollars these two movies would have made over 700 million dollars apiece. The profit margin of TPM will be at least 100 million dollars higher than Titanic domestically. TPM will set new standards for movie making for years to come. TPM will be three times as profitable as Titanic with its merchandising etc. You can bet your last dollar that twenty years from now Titanic will not hold a candle to Star Wars series' interest and mania. No movie in history has made over 100 million dollars (138 million to be precise) in its reissue. Let's see the mighty (?) Titanic match that. TPM will overtake Titanic. The rest of the movies this summer look to be mediocre at best."

- Raj H. (Kansas City)

3. "It is a game with the expectations. If we expect 'TPM' to make monster business, it'll do. Why? Because we - moviegoers, analysts - return the final verdict over 'Episode 1'. I say that because of reading so-so reviews about the movie. These first impressions always have a strong effect to that 'final verdict'. Regarding 'TPM' it could mean at least a hundred millon loss at national box office. As I've been hearing everyone say 'Episode 1' is the second best 'Star Wars'-movie. So we'll rank it second. You'll see: 400-450M is predictable."

- Köbli Norbert (Hungary)

4. "I made a bet with all my fraternity brothers that the new Star Wars would not touch Titanic. But after reassessing the scenarios, I think that Episode 1 will probably beat Titanic, badly. The opening weekend will be beyond anything imaginable and it will have phenomenal mid week business. I see the new Star Wars movie having close to 350 by July. My new thought is I am going to lose a lot of beer on the bet I made about Titanic being unsinkable. Star Wars will bring in over 650 million in domestic gross."

- Chris Worley

5. " 'Opinions are like belly-buttons -- everyone has one and they don't do a thing!' Needless to say, my husband and I pay little attention to "ratings" except to notice the same thing you said in your last e-mail -- the worse the opinion of the reviewers, the better the film. By the way, not all "40-something" reviewers hated the film. The local NBC affiliate was invited to send their reviewer, who was at least my age (47), to see the movie in New York. He emerged from the theater with an ear-to-ear smile on his face. That pretty much said it all. Movie-wise, he is the only one I know of whose viewing judgement we feel we can trust. As a former student of music, both instrumental and vocal, I REALLY enjoyed John Williams' compositions and arrangements. I heard part of the soundtrack where he had, besides a full symphony orchestra, a large choir. The music was FANTASTIC and POWERFUL and Mr. Williams had an expression of absolute JOY on his face while conducting it. It was a kind of joy I have experienced only three times in my life -- three days in a row when I was required to perform solo a song that was very difficult. I knew, as did Mr. Williams, that that music was ready to capture the hearts of the people in the audience. I guess that will be enough ranting for now. Enjoy the movie, all!"

- Janice (Lady Vader) Loughner

6. " 'Titanic' will "sink" to the Phantom Menace. No film series in history has appealed to such a mass audience. The fact alone that the re-release of STAR WARS in 1997 made over 130 million dollars domestic, should be an indicator alone that the PHATOM MENACE will be a huge success. The film does not need to be hyped. The fact alone that Lucas is directing after 20 years and that the STAR WARS series has made an inprint in society will surely make PHANTOM MENACE the highest grossing picture in history. Titanic will " SINK" in the high waters that will come with the release on PHANTOM MENACE on May 19."

- Anthony (Ontario, Canada)

7. "I am an avid Star Wars fan. I scares me to see the poor reviews given to this movie by some of the more influential news papers and magazines. I have even heard that true SW fans have been walking out during the film. I have been following TPM's development for about two years now, and have known something was cooking at the Ranch since I was 13(almost 7 years ago). I know that I have high standards, and I hope that these standards do not conflict with my interpretation of the film. I am going through great lengths to make this experience as memorable as possible. I am seeing it opening night at an Old Theater style theater at Pleasure Island. I am actually trying to read as many poor reviews as possible so that my standards might fall a bit and I can still appreciate my Star Wars experience. However, I hope that all other viewers will be smart enough to disregard all reviews and make their own Decisions about the movie. I wish "TPM" good luck, and hope that it is recognized for what it is truly worth, not to the critics, but to the fans."

- Alex Hammer (Gainesville, Florida)

8. "I read all the comments and the one point everyone forgot to make is that this film appeals to children, as well as adults. All the adults that grew up on Star Wars, since back in 1977 (that includes my parents and other kids parents I'm sure) will go to see it. All the adults now, who were kids in 1977 (me) will go to see it and they'll bring their children. So in addition to all the older fans (and there are many!), there will be kids who had to learn about the event that is known as Star Wars on video, who will want to see this too. And these kids will be repeat viewers because of all the special effects and creatures. And guess what?: These kids will need their parents to bring them, which means more money. The figures for this film will be astronomical! As far as opening box office, from 5/19/99-5/23/99, I am predicting about $140M, despite the advanced so-so reviews. Overall, I think the movie will beat Titanic with about a $650M take. It will make big money for the first few weekends and it will have continued consistent business throughout the summer, until about mid-August. Those people going to see it in July and August will be the repeat viewers and the ones who want to avoid the early madness. TPM rules the box office in 1999!!!"

- Christian Augienello

9. "Alright, I have read what everybody's been saying about 'The Phantom Menace' for a couple weeks now (been waiting for a year and a half to see it), anyway I'm sick and tired of people debating whether or not it's going to beat Titanic or not. And how much it's going to make in the Box Office. People give it a rest, go out and enjoy the movie. No matter what critics say, you know it's going to be good. It's been too hyped, critics are going to say bad things, just to say them. I've read the novel it's a great story. Episode 1 is setting the surface for the coming Clone Wars(Episode 2). The Phantom Menace will be a good movie maybe not great,but nevertheless a nice addition to the Star Wars Universe."

- RaveDancR

10. "The Phantom Menace?...never heard of it. The number one movie this summer will be Austin Powers 2. Period."

- Mizan Sulaiman (Nyalas, Malaysia)

11. "STAR WARS has an edge over TITANIC. The rerelease of the original made $135 million in the off season at the box-office. I think you can depend on those viewers who made the old movie's numbers so huge, to come out for the new one. TITANIC went on for 15 consecutive weeks, but that's of NO MORE than $36 million (it averaged about $25) per weekend. If TPM can truly hit $100 million (which I highly doubt) per weekend, that's THREE of TITANIC'S BEST weeks right there! That's five weekends or less of STAR WARS on top. Anyone care to tell me it can't do that? Also, the movies aren't just for the weekend. There are the weekdays to consider. Titanic could get around $10-15 million Mon-Thurs. because the majority of its run was during school and work. Lucas has summer a week away. TPM can take in $20-25 million in those four days for a few weeks. Consider the availability of moviegoers, and you'd better believe TPM has the upper-hand! TPM probably won't beat TITANIC. The news media has blasted this thing out of proportion, people are sick of it, and the cross-over appeal may pose a little problem. Finally, one thing overlooked. What if it stinks? I hate to say it, I love STAR WARS, they're my favorite movies, but what if Lucas returning to STAR WARS is like anyone but Michael Jordan coming out of retirement? It might just SUCK! Taking it all into account, I won't be surprised either way. Whether it breaks TITANIC or not, I won't be surprised. But I've got my fingers crossed and I'm hoping to see that love boat sink out everyone's memory as #1..."

- panache_83

12. "I'm one of the few individuals who haven't been impressed by the first three Star Wars movies. Mediocre story lines overshadowed by special effects don't necessarily make good films (i.e., Starship Troopers, Event Horizon, Johnny Mnemonic, Blade, etc.). I think the movie will do incredible business from the start of its run. It will probably break all kinds of box office records because people who follow hype will be there first in line. As more and more really bad movies are released I have grown very cautious with my movie going dollars. I usually go for quality movies now."

- Jim Burkhart

13. "I believe that SW1 might beat Titanic in the domestic run, but I seriously doubt the international appeal to the movie. I agree that the series is very well known internationally as well, but the hype is just not that sky-high. Also, another thing that I wanted to point out that Titanic had very long stretch to it. It reigned at the BO for 15 straight weeks!! It was not exactly a summer release, and so the ticket sales were obviously drawn towards it. SW1 is a early summer release and even though, I believe that this summer will be calm than last one, the fact is that its SUMMER!! Anything can happen with Wild Wild West, Austin Powers, etc.... Titanic had repeated showings from the teenage girls for 9 - 10 times / person..!!! That is literally watching the movie every weekend for 9 weekends!! The ONLY way SW1 will have that appeal is through its die-hard fans.... SW1 is hyped up a little too much; maybe too much to the bad side. The appeal for the movie is NOT only to the original die-hard SW fans, but also the next generation who grew up watching the epic series. So, I truly believe SW will have a mammoth opening, but rest assured, $600 million IS a LONG road... Hope it makes it!!!"

- Rahul

14. "I would have to say that, no, The Phantom Menace will not gross more than Titanic. I find that the reason it won't is because the trailer for it is so pathetic. When Titanic's trailer was first released, it was visually mindblowing (although I'd have to say the film was seriously lacking in, well, everything ). The only thing the Star Wars trailer has going for it is that it's called Star Wars. It demonstrates not-so-impressive special effects and doesn't look interesting. Then, just as you think the trailer has ended, suddenly Ewan's face appears and screams the profound line "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". Clever. People want something new, and this film could just as well be called Star Trek 9: Still Bored."

- Aaron Rabin (Seattle, Washington)

15. "I've seen The first Star Wars and I think it was good, and would really like to see The Phantom Menace (TPM). To compare it with Titanic (which I've seen as well), I can't comment much because both of them were just as great. But it is kind of sad for TPM since it has been hyped so much since last year and a lot of movies like that (Godzilla for example) didn't turn out to be what people expected and though they did very well in the first week, 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 or not, it depends on how many theaters it will be playing in. Since there are a lot of restrictions from the distributor, they might hurt its gross. I predict that TPM will gross about $500M in North America and also $500M in international markets (around $1 billion overall)."

- Peter Prior

16. "I'm not sure anyone can really predict how Star Wars will actually play out at the box office. On one hand the buzz seems to be the most for any movie ever made. But if you all remember, Godzilla had incredible buzz around it too, and look how it fared domestically. Now I don't think TPM will have any trouble getting an opening intake of around $90-100 million, but after that? If it is an exceptional movie and meets our expectations the sky is the limit. If it turns out to be strictly fan-fare... well it'll still get a high gross. But $1.8 billion worldwide? The other Star Wars movies always generated LESS money over sea's. So even if TPM gets to... $700 million in North America, that could only (tsk) mean a world tally of $1.4 billion."

- Josh Dakin (Stratford, Canada)

17. "Records are made to be broken and The Phantom Menace will break them all. Mark my words."

- Mike_Spano

18. "Obviously, Star Wars carries with it a name like nothing we've ever seen before. The demand for Star Wars stuff is out of this world, when the video premiered on MTV they played it three times in an hour. I've heard NO negative things about this new movie and it's the only summer movie that all of my friends have heard of, an opening of 98 mil. over the weekend and a take of 165 mil. wens.-sun. looks good, with the total ranging in the 800 mil. area."

- "Alan Smithee"

19. "I really want TPM to beat the $600million gross of Titanic - simply because I hated the movie! There is no doubt that TPM will break opening records. I reckon it will open with $110-$115million and reach $200,$300 and $400 million in record times. However I think it will stall between $500 & $550 million. Unfortunately, I don't think TPM will have the cross gender appeal Titanic had. I don't think there are enough obsessive Star Wars fans as there were mad female Titanic fans. Let's hope I'm wrong. But one thing is for sure. TPM will not come close to beating the $1.8billion worldwide gross of Titanic. The Star Wars trilogy is not as big overseas as it is in the US. Expect the worldwide cume to reach £1.4billion max."

- stephen.wan

20. " Q: How would Star Wars change my life? A: Not at all. You still won't have a life cause you're a Star Wars fan."

- Kfan123

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.

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