Box Office Barometer 7-18-11: We Need A New Movie Metric

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 broke records for biggest midnight showing ($43.5 million), biggest domestic cume ($168.5 million), biggest international cume ($307 million), and biggest global cume ($475.5 million).  It also had the biggest Friday showing ($92.1 million), and the world record for most world records broken (Hey Arnold! reference).  But when inflation and 3D ticket prices are accounted for, it’s numbers feel tainted.  It’s like comparing today’s batting averages with that in 1968, the year before they lowered the mound and Carl Yastrzemski led the league with .301.  Instead, we should look at tickets sold rather than money made to accurately judge today’s record-breaking movies.

Only two of the current ten highest-grossing movies remain on the list when adjusted for inflation (Stars Wars and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial).  Overall, Gone With The Wind made a respectable $198,676,459.  That’s a pretty good gross, one that’s on par with Bridesmaids.  Then, you realize that it was released in 1939, during the Great Depression.  The average ticket price was $0.23!  That’s $7.63 less than 2011’s average ticket!  When GWTW is adjusted for inflation, it is estimated to have made $1,588,070,800.  That’s significantly more than Avatar’s $760.5 million domestic cume.  That means that approximately 863 million people saw that movie, while only 101 million people saw Avatar.  Huge difference.

This is important for cultural reasons.  The Exorcist is a really famous horror movie, but when you realize that it made $193 million in 1973, that means that it was pervasive when it came out.  The current Top 10 list only has two movies that were not released before 1997 (Titanic), and once again that’s Star Wars (1977), and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982).  Going back to the baseball analogy, that’s would be like deeming the best players of the last 14 years as the best players of all-time, besides Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

Harry Potter did perform admirably and was a fitting conclusion for the series; it’s just that its records feel a little Godric’s Hollow.

(So how many people saw Harry Potter in theaters this weekend? About 21.4 million. To put it in perspective, Sound of Music made $158.7 million in 1965, but was screened for 157.1 million people.)

Box Office Results [from Deadline]

1. Harry Potter/Hallows, Pt 2 – 3D (Warner Bros) NEW [4,375 Theaters]
Friday $92.1M, Saturday $42.8M, Weekend $168.5M
International $307M, Worldwide Cume $475.5M

2. Transformers 3 – 3D (Paramount) Week 3 [3,917 Theaters]
Friday $6.3M, Saturday $9.8M, Weekend $21.2M, Cume $302.8M

3. Horrible Bosses (New Line/Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,134 Theaters]
Friday $5.4M, Saturday $6.9M, Weekend $17.6M (-38%), Cume $60M

4. Zookeeper (Sony) Week 2 [3,482 Theaters]
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.3M (-39%), Cume $42.3M

5. Cars 2 – 3D (Disney) Week 4 [3,249 Theaters]
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $3.4M, Weekend $8.3M, Cume $165.3M

6. Winnie The Pooh (Disney) NEW [2,405 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $8M

7. Bad Teacher (Sony) Week 4 [2,659 Theaters]

Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $5.2M, Cume $88.5M

8. Larry Crowne (Vendome/Universal) Week 3 [2,287 Theaters]
Friday $800K, Saturday $1.2M, Weekend $2.5M, Saturday Cume $31.6M

9. Super 8 (Paramount) Week 6 [1,459 Theaters]
Friday $545K, Saturday $800K, Cume $1.9M, Cume $122.2M

10. Midnight In Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9 [819 Theaters]
Friday $500K, Saturday $800K, Weekend $1.8M, Cume $41.7M

One Response to “Box Office Barometer 7-18-11: We Need A New Movie Metric”
  1. GREAT picture. Harry certainly got the broom out on some records over the weekend. But yes, ultimately it is about how many attended/saw each picture for me, not what astronomical current price is per ticket which skews everything.

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