There was a great article in Mondays Variety about the success of Borat and it’s limited engagment opener, written by Gabriel Snyder and Ian Mohr. Without knowing it or directly saying it, the article is outstanding evidence for my death/rebirth of the Industry claims. Allow me to paraphrase what the article said:
Borat opened in 837 theaters and brought in $26.5 million. It grossed about $3 million from its 53 playdates in NYC, averaging $56,000 per theater. In L.A. it took in $3 million.
Fahrenheit 9/11 opened in 868 theaters and brought in $23.8 million. It played in 68 theaters in NYC, which generated $2.4 million, an average of $30,000. In L.A. it grossed $2.2 in its opener at 53 theaters.
Saw III opened to 33.6 million in 3,167 theaters where the top 1,535 theaters brought in 30.2 million. The remaining 1,632 theaters brought in 3.3 million.
Mission Impossible III opened to 47.7 million in 4,045 theaters. 43 million came from the top 1,469 theaters and the other 2,585 brought in 4.8 million which is “an average of $1,847 per location — barely more than what it costs a studio to manufacture and ship a film print.”
“The lesson is that you don’t have to have all these screens to do big business,” said a studio distrib topper. Or, as another studio distrib prexy said, “It just goes to show that anything over 1,500 (theaters) is crazy.”
Where does this leave us? It leaves us with closing down 50% (Or more) of the theaters across the U.S. The money comes in from the top 1,500 theaters so why try to push it elsehwhere? What is the point in maybe getting your money back on the print (And the risk of not)?
Can anyone in the audiance think of a way to get the films to the audiances far from those 1,500 theaters? Need I tell you? Can I put it in really big bold letters? Naw, I’ll just keep drilling it into peoples heads.