GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – HOW SECOND WEEKENDS TELL THE REAL STORY

Hi everyone! Welcome to “Going Bionic #154. I hope this week has started off in the right direction. As for my “direction,” I’m headed northeast tomorrow morning all the way to Kitchener, Canada, to spend the week at Industry Corporation (Industry is the video game and multimedia company that I have written about before). I have collaborated with Industry on several creative projects, and more fun adventures await us, so it’s going to be one hell of a creatively inspired and fun week.

As for today’s article, we’re going to focus on something that I briefly mentioned last week: the importance of a second weekend to a film’s success.  While the media focuses on how well a film does on its opening weekend, it’s usually how the picture does on the second weekend, which determines if it will grow “legs” and run its way to box office success. Thus, today we’re going to look at how “42,” last week’s box office winner, did this week. Then, we’ll analyze how the top five motion pictures of all time in their second weekend in release.

But first, let me lay our a few keys elements to help you judge how a film performed in its second weekend of release.

Acceptable Drop From Opening Weekend to the Second Weekend
Based on industry standard, having a drop off of less than 40% from weekend one to two, still gives your film a shot as being successful. Of course, a 30% drop is far better, than 40%, and if your film loses less than 20%, you have a sure-fire hit.

90/10 Opening Weekends Help to Recoup The Studios Investment
A 90/10 is when the film studio forces the theaters to give them 90% of the box office take on opening weekend. This deal is only offered to huge, $200 million plus budgeted tent pole releases. Should you wonder why theaters agree to the 90/10 deal, it’s because they know that a big release will sharply increase the number of moviegoers headed to theaters on the opening weekend of a highly anticipated, mass release. Thus, the overall box office goes up, not just the take of the highly anticipated film. The other thing to remember about 90/10 deals is that they only happen on opening weekend. After that, the deals convert to normal rates, which usually wind up in the exhibitor keeping about 53% of their box office revenue.

Most of the Advertising Budget is spent on Opening Weekend
Since the film studios stand to gain the most income on the opening weekend of a tent pole wide release, it only makes sense that they spend most of their advertising dollars on opening weekend. Doing so helps the studio recoup what they can in situations when the film they’re is a worthless piece of alpaca droppings. This is because bad word-of-mouth will absolutely kill the box office during the second weekend.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at “42.”

42 Hits a Solid Single (Maybe Double) In Week Two
After winning last weekend’s box office, by earning $27,487,144 on 3,003 screens, this week “42” earned $18, 721,410 on 3,250 screens. That’s a 35.3% drop, even though the picture added 247 screens, but is deemed as bring a solid weekend. The picture has earned $53,753,511 since it was released on April 12. With any luck, ”42” could chug it’s way to a $100 million at the domestic box office, but only if it loses less than 20% at the box office over the next few weekends.

Now that we’ve looked at how last week’s box office champion performed this week, let’s examine how the top five earning motion pictures did in week two.

Top 5 Box Office Hits – Motion Picture History (not adjusted for inflation)

2009 Avatar  $2,724,544,000  (Worldwide)
Opening Domestic Weekend ($77,025,481 on 3,452 screens)
Second Domestic Weekend   ($75,617,183 on 3,456 screens)
Percent Change (-1.8%)

Dropping less than two percent from your opening frame to the second is ridiculously good and the only thing better is to actually have an increase (which almost never happens, unless you’re James Cameron.). On that note, see below.

1997 Titanic $2,185,672.302 (Worldwide)
Opening Domestic Weekend ($28, 638,131 on 2,674 screens)
Second Domestic Weekend   ($35,455,673 on 2,711 screens)
Percent Change (+23.8%)

That’s right, this film enjoyed a healthy 23.8% increase at the box office in the second weekend, even though only 37 screens were added. Thus, the word-of-mouth ”Titanic” was nothing less than tremendous.

2012 Avengers  $1,514,757,910 (Worldwide)
Opening Domestic Weekend ($207,438,708 on 4,349 screens)
Second Domestic Weekend   ($103,052,274 on 4,349 screens)
Percent Change (-50.3%)

First and foremost, this film earned the most ever on its opening weekend; over $207 million. That number shattered the previous record of $169.2 million. Thus, while losing 50.3% at the box office in the second weekend would suck for 99.9999% of films ever released, this picture still made over $103 million at the box office in the second weekend, which is more money than most film ever make.

2008 The Dark Knight $1,004,58,444 (Worldwide)
Opening Domestic Weekend ($158,411,183 on 4,366 screens)
Second Domestic Weekend   ($75,166,466 on 4,366 screens)
Percent Change (-52.5%)

Again, a 52.5% drop on the second weekend isn’t great, but the fact this film still captured $75 million at the box office, after absorbing such a big drop, says more about the unusual number of moviegoers that saw the film on it’s opening weekend.

1999  Star Wars: The Phantom Menace $1,027,044,677 (Worldwide)
Opening Domestic Weekend ($64,820,970 on 2,970 screens)
Second Domestic Weekend   ($51,399,863 on 3,023 screens)
Percent Change (-20.7%)

“Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” only dropped about 21% on the second weekend, which is the second most impressive percentage drop on this list, next to “Avatar.”

In conclusion, focusing on how a film does in its second weekend allows you to see how the masses reacted to its quality and enjoyment.  So, while everyone else is focused on the hype of opening weekend, you should be focused on week two! Now I need to pack and find my passport. Thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.




Posted on April 23, 2013 in Features, Going Bionic by
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