Monday, May 24, 2004


Shrek 2 grossed $104.3 million (including estimates and projections - for several reasons I am not going into here I expect the final number to be higher) over the weekend in North America. That's the second largest three day gross of any film ever (after Spiderman two years ago, which managed $114.8). After two lacklustre and very expensive films (Van Helsing and Troy) over the last two weeks and after ordinary looking grosses for Shrek 2 on Wednesday and Thursday, it looked like the summer wasn't going so well and that perhaps the "DVDs are cannibalising theatrical grosses" theory was getting more evidence. However, this is enormous. If the ludicrous "Global warming causes the ice caps to melt, the Gulf Stream to stop, and an ice age to occur, and all by next Wednesday" film The Day After Tomorrow turns out to be the fun guilty pleasure I expect next weekend, and the third Harry Potter film the week after is as good as advance word says it is, it may be that in two weeks time everybody has forgotten the box office decline theory and Hollywood is talking about a record summer, and by a big margin. For what it is worth, it probably will be a record summer (at least in nominal terms) but I do not expect the margin to be all that great. Summers have a history of petering out when the Olympic Games are on - this was not such an issue in 2000 because the games were held late due to being in the southern hemisphere, but it was a very big issue in 1992 and 1996. I expect that this will happen this year too, although if the Greeks completely screw up, and the games are cancelled, that would be great for Hollywood. (Things may slow down in Europe due to the European football championship, too, so it may not be as big a box office summer internationally as in the US).

I have a longer article on all this in preparation for Samizdata.

Update: As I predicted (I rock), with the Sunday estimates the gross has been revised upwards to $106.7m. (What "estimates" means in this case is that we have Sunday numbers based on most theatres having reported in - including virtually all large theatres. The previous number included "projections" for Sunday - that is numbers based on what it was believed the Sunday gross would be given the Friday and Saturday grosses). Blimey this is a big hit, particularly given that it cost less than half as much (and perhaps a lot less than half as much) as either Van Helsing or Troy to make, and that family films make substantially more money on VHS and DVD than any other genre. We are talking something like a billion dollar profit on a hundred million dollar investment here.

Further Update: The final number is $108.0m, so we really aren't all that far behind Spiderman. That of course ended up with a total gross of just over $400m.

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