So a bit over a year ago, HSM2 shocked-ish the ratings world with a then-record-smashing 17.2 million viewers and something like an 80 share in female kids/tweens. And with all of the "viewing parties" there was really no tracking exactly how big it was. The date of the movie premiere was also considered "genius" as it was a Friday night after many kids are back from summer camps and before they go to school.
Then Disney decided the third installment wouldn't be seen for free on TV, but people would have to pay (what Box Office Mojo claims in 2008 is) an average of $7.08 per ticket to see it. Oh, and it came out towards the end of October when kids are still in school.
So the question is... how many would show up?
Estimates for Friday are in. $16.9 million That's 2.387 million people based on average ticket prices. That's certainly a decent sized audience immediately going out to buy for something they used to get for free. Oh, and of course we have no idea what Saturday and Sunday (with their matinees) will bring. In fact, I have a feeling that the kiddie matinees are going to be huge.
The only thing that's going to stop HSM3 from reaching Iron Man and Indiana Jones 4 is that it doesn't cross over very well to adult audiences. However, I suspect it's going to get pretty close. After all, the teenage girl repeat audience is largely responsible for Titanic's $600M domestic take (that film, however, had massive crossover appeal, huge drama, and a cartload of Oscars). Repeats of the original HSM and HSM2 continue to put much on The CW to shame for sheer audience size (certainly for repeat audience size)... so there's definitely going to be some longevity in HSM3. The question is how much. And we talking about a film that plays in the Top 5 through the winter holidays? Or will November 21st's Twilight take a, er, chunk of the teen audience away?
BTW, Saw V for about $14 million, and certainly won't catch HSM3 because horror movies typically have their best day on Friday (date night). So it'll go down a bit tomorrow, and severely on Sunday.