Get Ready for the $10 Billion Summer!
by Alex Billington
March 14, 2007
At ShoWest in Las Vegas there is only one thing on the mind of almost everyone here: money. Fortunately not all of us are concerned about box office earnings, and I'm glad to say that I'm here instead to determine just how big this summer will be. And I'll tell you how big it will be: $10 billion. In one day's time we've been show the new Pirates of the Caribbean 3 trailer and 20 minutes of footage from Transformers, two of the huge blockbusters coming up this summer. And in that amount of time, with that small taste of what's to come, the outlook for this summer's box office is already looking enormous.
Theatrical attendance has been somewhat grim the last few years, with a downward trend that finally turned upward just last year (2006). Despite none of the studios will admit the truth, nor will the theatrical exhibitors or theatre chains, the earnings are considerably lower and the situation is getting considerably worse every year, with less attendance and increasing complaints. However dull the lights may seem, there is a bright future ahead, specifically looking at this upcoming summer - May through August - and a set of 10 films that may reverse the trend and return record-breaking box office numbers that haven't been seen for years. Back in August last year I had made a speculation that 2007 would be a great year for movies, and that is certainly still standing strong and already becoming true (300).
Given what I've seen and heard at ShoWest (which so far has been phenomenal), and given my own grasp on the hype and buzz in relation to the films, I have a very good feeling that these 10 will be strong contenders to all pass the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office earnings this summer. You may call me hasty in predicting such high amounts so early, and you're right. In the end I don't think that all 10 will break that number, but I do think the box office this summer is going to be huge. Let's take a look at them:
Spider-Man 3 - May 4th
Shrek the Third - May 18th
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End - May 25th
Ocean's 13 - June 8th
Live Free or Die Hard - June 29th
Ratatouille - June 29th
Transformers - July 4th
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - July 13th
The Simpsons Movie - July 27th
The Bourne Ultimatum - August 3rd
The justification for claiming that not only will some of these be immense performers, but that this summer may be one of the biggest in years, comes lately from my own anticipation out here at ShoWest. There are of course a number of other films that will be very big performers (28 Weeks Later, Knocked Up, 1408 and Hairspray), but aren't as likely to cross the $1 billion line worldwide. However, it's the epic nature of Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Live Free or Die Hard, Transformers, Harry Potter 5, and The Simpsons Movie, that I know will bring unheard of numbers in all of their openings. This summer won't be one to forget, instead it will be one to lavish in its glory.
This observation brings up a very important aspect in terms of the fact that when the quality of movies is good, such as all the sequels and trilogies this summer, the actual theatrical experience becomes irrelevant. Look at 300 that had a huge March opening weekend which brought out the crowds purely because they wanted to see a great movie. This factor will become only much more prominent when it comes to the summer, and what better way to focus on convincing these patrons that it is worth their time to come to the theater when they're going to be there anyway. If the theaters can turn around and show them that they can have a great experience at the theater, then they'll be more likely to come back later on in the year when the summer dies down.
But back on topic. I am saying without a doubt that when the marketing is at its peak for all 10 films, there will be enough people around the world interested in seeing them to have each cross the $1 billion box office line. I realized that these films are building up so much interest and excitement, that what we were shown at ShoWest has solidified my own beliefs of success and those of everyone anticipating them. It's going to be one hell of a summer, with one hell of a big box office. I'm looking forward to seeing how much activity takes place at the local theaters, and if this really is the $10 billion summer that will rattle the cages of the movie industry.