quasi in rem

Monday, February 23, 2004

Official Passion prediction:

Andy Rooney had a particularly nasty piece last night where he called Mel Gibson a nut for no particular reason and then accused Gibson of a profit motive for making the Passion.

It was particularly uninformed because he said Mel would be making 30 million off the project. Which is sad for a couple of reasons.

Whatever you want to say about Mel Gibson and his movie, he is so far above criticism as to the profit incentive behind this picture that it is insane to even raise it. Gibson broke the number #1 cardinal rule of Hollywood in this picture. He put his own money into it. And lots of it. Reportedly upwards of 25 million. (The number 2 rule is don't let Kevin Costner write or direct the project and number 3 is not to involve Pauly Shore in any way.)

This is not a "points" type system like James Cameron did with the studio in Titanic, where he gave up any up front money for points on the back end. No. Mel spent his own cash on this project. If it failed that money was gone.

He broke a number of other cardinal rules:

He made a religious movie.
The movie is in a foreign language.
The movie has no big name star.
It has an R rating, despite no sex, and lots of graphic violence.
No girl on girl kissing.

These are all reasons why the movie should fail completely.

But apparently it looks like Mr. Gibson will recoup all of that money and even more. Churches are preaching on the movie and many churches have been showing trailers for "The Passion" during services and buying advance tickets by the busload. According to commercialappeal.com "the Evangelical Free Church (EFCN) of Naperville, Ill., has bought more than 1,200 advance tickets, and church members and their guests will attend five screenings over four days."

Right now predictions are running upwards of 30 million.

But I think that's low.

Initially the movie was scheduled to open in about 2000 theatres, but because of demand, the distributor Newmarket Films is increasing the number of prints from 2,500 to 4,000 and 2,800 cinemas across North America will now show the film. Similarly the online ticket service Fandango said The Passion, which depicts the last 12 hours of Christ's life, was making up nearly 70% of its advance sales.

At movietickets.com, it is already sold out at the theatre, where it is showing on two screens, at the two sneak previews on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Fandango still has some tickets available.

So exactly how much money will it make? It is the only major movie opening up next weekend although the comedy Club Dread, the horrific looking Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and the remake of every other Ashley Judd movie Twisted from Paramount. (This movie was once titled Blackout and was scheduled for release last fall.)

Well, based on all of my intricate analysis and knowledge of the movie industry, I think that the movie will take in $42 million from Wednesday through Sunday night. This is a huge take and will require a majority of sell outs in the theatres it is in. But I have confidence. By the way movies tend to gross about three times their opening weekend take in the new Hollywood math. I think Andy Rooney will be proven wrong long before Sunday night.

Any other guesses?


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