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October 02 2005

"Flightplan" is 1 and "Serenity" is 2. Reuters reports weekend business at the box office.

"Serenity," a film based on the short-lived Western-flavored sci-fi TV series "Firefly," opened at No. 2 with $10.1 million, a figure within the modest expectations of its distributor, Universal Pictures.

Said this in the other link that if Serenity is within what Universal expected than I think that must be good news.
Y'know, I'm kinda surprised by all the gloom 'n' doom we've seen in response to these results. Sure, it's disappointing that we didn't come in #1 this weekend, but we didn't do badly, all things considered. Friday night, at the theater in NYC I attended, Serenity was the ONLY thing to sell out -- 3 of the 5 showings, no less. And haven't people actually involved with the production -- unlike, say, those of us looking in from the outside -- said multiple times that they expect this to be a word o' mouth hit? To make its money slowly, instead of in one big opening? So let's just keep doing what we've been doing: seein' the flick and getting the word out. Like Joss has said, we'll concentrate on sequels when it's time; for now, let's just make this one as big as we can.
This is a dupe again..

The reason people are freaking are that Saturday dropped off from Friday. That shouldn't happen, not ever.
"No. 2 with $10.1 million, a figure within the modest expectations of its distributor, Universal Pictures"

That sounds great to me. How can #2 be a worrisome place?
gossi, this is a flick with a built-in fanbase. Opening weekends aren't indicitve of overall performance, and opening nights definitely aren't. We saw a Friday-to-Saturday drop-off because all the hardcore Browncoats came out Friday night, while Saturday was more representative of casual fans and the general public. Trust me, Universal is aware of this.
I completely agree, Ramble, but historically when this has happened it's never worked well. This happens with cult movies, and cult movie is not something we want to aim to be.
Am I the only one who REALLY wants to hear from Joss soon? I know it's not like he's required to interact with the fans, and it's amazing of him to do so... but I feel like his absence is more noticable than ever.

I really don't know anything about the film industry and I want him to reassure me, so I don't go into an alcoholic state at the age of 16. I just have to say... we beat "Into the Blue"... there is some good in the world.
Thinking ahead to "second weekend," what days count for second weekend sales? Do Monday through Thursday get included, or do they just get wrapped into the overall total?
Adam, Joss did post the other day about the Friday numbers... it was linked on Whedonesque.
Couldn't find Joss' post.
I saw the movie you guys!
Couldn't find Joss' post.


The link from Whedonesque is here: http://whedonesque.com/comments/8241.
Don't mention it, Christopher.
Thanks for the link. I did actually read the post from Joss, and it's great... but I'm actually interested in his thoughts on the Friday-to-Saturday drop-off thing. Hmm...
Thanks for the link. I did actually read the post from Joss, and it's great... but I'm actually interested in his thoughts on the Friday-to-Saturday drop-off thing. Hmm...


Try to look inside the bathtub. ;)
I'm sure Joss will post as soon as he can (life, family, vampire beagles in the way).
I attended the 9:50pm showings both Friday and Saturday at the same theater (Oak Tree) here in Seattle. I brought three (different) people along each time. Friday night's showing was about 85% full; Saturday's maybe 50%. I hoped this drop-off was unique to the theater I was at but, sadly, it seems like a nationwide trend.

The good news is I know of several Firefly fan friends of mine who couldn't fit Serenity into their busy schedules this weekend and who will be seeing it within the next week. Perhaps this is a nationwide trend as well.

Keep your head up. Time to activate your phone tree... call everyone you ever gave or loaned a Firefly dvd set to and motivate them to get to the theater to see Serenity. This is a "word-of-mouth" film and we are the mouths!! :)

And keep loaning / gifting dvd sets of Firefly! That series is the best sales pitch of all for seeing Serenity.
Today the theatre was about 15-20% full on the 12:45 Sunday showing but we have macho theaters.
If Joss says that 3.9 mil for Friday is not good, I believe him. A drop in Saturday has only got to be bad news. So, it has to be a steady run instead. We can do that.
I saw it twice this weekend. Hopefully I'll see it two more times next weekend. Steady Run...let's do it!
Two threads is more than enough for the estimated weekend box office take, so that's why I've deleted the other two. Please keep any new links inside this one.

Obviously when the final figure come out that will be posted on the front page.
Now, I've already said that I think Universal's marketing has done a great job, and that I don't think more screens would have helped. I do, however, think they should have marketed more to women. I guess the assumption is that only guys like sci-fi action movies...this may be kinda true, although a generalization, but it's really not true in the case of Serenity. I took a bunch of friends on Friday night, and the guys all liked it, but in a non-fanatical way - "it was good," "it was fun," "I enjoyed it." The girls, however, were the ones who were in tears, and who were really affected by the movie. I then dragged my mom to it the next night, and the moment it ended she turned to me and said "that was REALLY GREAT." She especially loved the female empowerment and all the Kaylee/Simon and Mal/Inara flirting and bickering. I was also surprised by how well she understood the movie, having never seen Firefly, and only a few eps of Buffy. She even got that Inara was "some sort of courtesan," which more than a few professional critics have not gotten. She also picked up on the whole "can't stop the signal" thing as a metaphor for the film itself, and really dug all the ideas about belief and faith. So, basically, I think the film plays really well to women, but Universal spent a lot of its budget putting the trailers on things like wrestling, monday night football, and shows with a large male audience, like Lost or CSI. On boxofficeguru.com, they say that exit polls show the opening weekend audience was a whopping 61 percent male, which is very high (fortunately, they also show that 88 percent of people polled would rate the movie "excellent" or "very good").
Dito to what Ramble says. I have to say that this is most definitely going to be a word of mouth, snow ball affect thing. Everyone I know who has seen it, loves it. Tell them to tell their friends, and their friends will tell their friends...and the snow ball begins.

On another note, we beat Into the Blue. This makes me giddy.
I've got to agree with those of you who are going with the word of mouth situation. Pretty much everyone I know is seeing the movie next weekend. Now that I think about it...yeah, most everyone to whom I've spoken is going to see Serenity next weekend.

Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. (Sorry, I couldn't resist :-) )
Saw Serenity last night. It was awesome, as expected. I'm hopeful that word of mouth will make this a sleeper hit. Nevertheless, even if the box office ends up to be disappointing from Universal's perspective and they don't greenlight any sequels, at least Joss got the opportunity to go out with a bang, and I have a feeling of closure now.
I do think that this was a bad weekend for the film to be released and I'm hoping that next weekend will get more people into theatres... although it may actually be even worse. While the film may appeal to women, it's main demographic is men... and we love the baseball. Red Sox vs. Yankees? At the end of the baseball season? That's going to be fecking HUGE. And I suspect plenty of people in Boston and New York stayed away from theatres in droves, either watching the games or waiting in line to get into the games... and now we're getting into the playoffs. Ish.

I highly doubt that "Flightplan" will hold it's spot next weekend... but maybe "Serenity" will... and if we can beat "Doom", maybe we can move up to #1. A lofty dream, yes... but still a possibility.
From the Zap2It article on the weekend box office numbers:

Universal Pictures' "Serenity," which brought the cast and crew of the short-lived FOX drama "Firefly" to the big screen, played in more than 1000 fewer locations (2188 in total) that "Flightplan," but averaged a slightly higher $4,616 per screen to earn an estimated $10.1 million. Given the number of devoted fans for the cult series, the true test for "Serenity" will come next weekend. The first week figures were somewhere in line with industry expectations, but don't necessarily indicate that the film has immediately found a crossover audience.


So, yaeh, it will be next weekend that matters...
Still though, if Senerity is released in more locations it would of easily been a number one contender this weekend I think. Maybe they can release it in more places for next week, considering it's strong screen average.
I had to drive about 25-30 minutes to get to the closest theater showing it in my area. If they hadn't been showing it I would've had to have driven about 45 minutes. I think the one thing that Universal or whoever makes these decisions should have made sure of was that all areas had a theater within driving distance of potential viewers. I know some have said that there'd be a bunch of theaters in one area showing it and then in another area there'd be no theaters showing it. That was not the best planning. I live in the middle of no where. I can either drive North to Keene, NH to see a movie, which would be about 30 minutes away - but it wasn't playing at that theater. I could've driven out west to Greenfield, MA which is, again about 30-35 minutes away, but it wasn't showing there or I could've headed south to Gardner, MA (25 minutes) or Leominster, MA (45 minutes) which both had the movie. I went to Gardner but anyone living west and North of me probably wouldn't have gone to see the movie because for them you'd be talking over an hours drive or more to find a theater that had it in an area they were unfamiliar with.
I think, given the drop from Friday to Saturday, it'll get the same or less screens next week.
There are a few films with fairly large screencounts opening next weekend. Wallace and Gromit (3,000), In Her Shoes (2,800+), Two For The Money (2,300+) and then Waiting (1,500+). It could maintain the number of screens next weekend, but I don't think it'll increase.
Indeed, we'll have to see how it's played. Serenity did good profit for the theatres who showed it this weekend, but they'll be aware of the drop off potential. If Universal is confident the drop off won't happen, it should stick around the same.
The contract between the distributor and the theater is typically for more than one week. If you look at Box Office Mojo you'll see that movies do not lose theaters until after the second weekend. Theaters will move movies to smaller screens but can't drop a movie entirely. But I'm not in the industry myself so take that with a grain of salt (this is more from reading posts by theater managers over at HSX and from reading articles about how movie distribution works).
Bottom line, US failed. To all our UK whedonites...tag, you're it. Next weekend is your time to shine. We'll back you up :)

[ edited by MySerenity on 2005-10-03 02:37 ]
I ve seen it 3 times. its was soo good! no doubt the best crowd was at the Q&A in Sydney(duh!) all the fans were there etc... the worst was wen i went the second time. some annoying little brats were screaming all the way through and not at scary bits at funny bit and laughed at the sad bits! i couldnt believe it, my frineds and I were sooo annoyed!
So are we happy? Are we sad? I'm hearing a lot of both.

I just want somebody to okay 2 more sequels, that's all I want!
@SoupCatcher: That's true, but I'm fairly sure that the contracts between distributors and the theaters also include various thresholds which the film has to meet in order for them not to drop it from any screens, even after the first week. I mean, to take an extreme example, Gigli pretty much vanished from theaters after the first week. Clearly that won't happen here, but the smallprint is all important and we'll have to wait until later in the week to really know for sure what's going to happen.
@Impossible: Yeah, Gigli definitely leads the list of films that vanished quickly but it still looks like it had a two week run (although I'm sure theater managers did everything possible to fulfill only the minimum terms of the contract).

I was just seeing a lot of posts from fans worried that Serenity would be pulled from theaters and I didn't think that was contractually possible. Hidden, maybe. Pulled, no. So the opportunity to have a better than expected second weekend will be there. It's up to us to make sure that happens.
deleted

[ edited by MySerenity on 2005-10-03 03:28 ]
I haven't been able to connect to www.fireflyfans.net since last Wednesday. I'm taking that as a good sign (increased interest/traffic) but I hope Haken & co. can increase the user count over there!
I've seen it 4 times this weekend... and I think I may be able to swing another 4 times in the coming weekend. Folks, if we all can do that, then the US market hasn't failed. We're not here to win a sprint, we're here to win a marathon. Holding the valley, not taking it. This can still be achieved.

It's us browncoats that got Serentiy back in the air, it is us browncoats what will keep her there.
Ronald_SF here, from, well, S.F. I went with a couple of friends who had never seen Firefly who loved the movie so much that they want to go see it again! They probably will get their friends to see it with them too. I personally think the 2nd week is the real test of this movie. Opening weekend is important, but staying power is JUST as important, if not more, and I think our BDM's got it. After all, has anyone here reported an audience that DIDN'T like it?? :)
I don't understand -- I thought a "word of mouth hit" happened over time, meaning that it didn't make #1 the very first weekend, but gradually the masses came after "they heard about it"....
Flanatic - I live in Keene, and the ticket site told me I would have to go 40 miles originally. But it actually is showing in Brattleboro, so people northwest of you do have a place to go - fortunately for me.
Still a long haul though - Keene should've had it at their theater. Glad to hear there is a theater near you that's showing it, even if it is in another state!
It's so frustrating following this battle from overseas - and it doesn't open here in Denmark next week, either :-( Come November, I'll drag everyone I know to the theater, but by that time Serenity's destiny will already be sealed. Keep up the good work, US browncoats! See it a couple of extra times for me!

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