Four weekends into summer, and things have not ended up the way they were planned. Iron Man was an even bigger hit than expected, showing the rare blockbuster staying power; Speed Racer was an even bigger failure than expected, unlikely to gross more than $40 million and even busting overseas; and while Indiana Jones is doing the big business everyone thought it would, $200 million budgeted Narnia just suffered a massive second week drop off from a first weekend that was already well below expectations (it probably will end up with about half the first film’s gross, bad news since the 3rd film is already in production, but good news if you like the idea of Walden Media owner and Christian fundamentalist Philip Anschutz crying in his reclusive mansion somewhere).
For me, though, it is this upcoming weekend that I’m most curious about.
As far as pundits go, Sex and the City is worth $70 million on Hollywood Stock Exchange, which means they predict it will make $70 in its first four weeks. Most opening weekend predictions are in the $25-40 range. I think they are seriously underestimating the mammoth this movie really is. Women (and gays) do get summer movies, but they are always “sleepers” that have “legs” and end up “surprising” everyone (Hairspray, The Devil Wears Prada…). But Sex and the City is an event movie. Arguably, its the first gay/gal summer event movie, well, ever. Never have I seen this sort of advance response to a film from those neglected demographics. 50% of every woman or gay man I know, if not more, are going opening weekend, many with cocktail events planned around it. Some are going to two different ones. Even women as young as my 15 year old sister and her friends are very excited, given that DVDs and TBS reruns have introduced them to the show in the past few years (and here in Canada they don’t even need a parent to get into it, though in the US maybe they’ll find ways via older sisters or mothers who also want to see it). Its already sold out Thursday previews and most Friday showings in all the downtown Montreal theatres (except a few French dubbed showings (“Sex A New York”), which are still available).
Obviously I’m no data research/tracking company and my statistics are basic observations from one person. But many other people I’ve talked to in varied social realms and geographic regions are reporting the same responses. People who haven’t gone to the movies in a year (or years) will make it out for this. Straight men and boys get 6 of these events a year, and it creates a bit of a fatigue. Even Iron Man, the juggernaut that it was, wasn’t something everyone was talking about for weeks and weeks before it opened. Sex and the City is an event movie for people starved of having one. And unlike Prada, its going to be a frontloaded event. I’d guess more than 1/3 of Sex‘s overall grosses will come opening weekend. That number? Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m guessing at least $50 million. And I feel like I’m being conservative.