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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: How much will ‘Watchmen’ make over opening weekend?

Predicting box office numbers has not been something I’ve been keen to get into here, but I think this is a unique case. Whatever number we see for Watchmen come next Monday, it’s going to get spun. If the movie does phenomenally well — say, over $125 million — it’ll be seen as a vindication of the love that The Dark Knight was showered with last year, by moviegoers and critics alike — the “serious comic book movie” will be said to have really and truly arrived. You’ll also hear chatter — already! — about Oscars… which we will not hear if the movie does more poorly, say, $75 million or under. (This is a prediction I am confident about making: the Oscars will only give love to comic book movies that geeks adore too. The Academy may not mind appearing to be out of touch with mainstream audiences when it comes to arthouse films, but it will not want to be seen as out of touch about blockbusters, and so will only dare to honor the ones that audiences already like.)
If Watchmen clocks in at $75 million or less, this will be the first thing that is blamed: the R rating. The rating might not stop kids from sneaking into the film, but they won’t be able to buy tickets to it, so their attendence at the film won’t be counted. A low box office number may not be an accurate reflection of how many people see the movie this weekend. But the box office number is the only one that counts.

So let’s play the game:

How much will ‘Watchmen’ make over opening weekend?

I’m making an estimated guess based on how many showtimes are already sold out here plus the built-in geek appeal minus the lack of recognizable faces to draw in people who aren’t already keyed in to Watchmen: $102 million.

(Today’s QOTD was suggested by Ken. If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • ashok

    Well, geeks adored The Dark Knight (well nearly Everyone adored it) and it didnt get any Oscar love that wasn’t Heath Ledger-death-halo associated. As much as he deserved it, he wouldnt have even been nominated had he not died, I would think

  • For what it is worth, right now the HSX stock prices are calling for anywhere from $62 mil to $75 mil.

    I personally think it’ll hit around $85 mil on it’s opening weekend but will gross over $250 mil domestically in the following weeks.

    Interesting that right now 1/3 of the online pre-sale tickets are for the IMAX showings. I know I bought mine this morning.

  • Ken

    This is a really tough one to call. Usually I’m not that interested in box office numbers; this is the first time since Serenity’s release that I’ve cared. Most other geeky movies have a built-in recognition factor for those who aren’t familiar with the source material (i.e. even if you never read a Spider-man or Batman comic in your life, you know who they are and some of the basic story), but this and Serenity did not.

    I’m also interested in seeing how many media outlets are going to got he obvious route and use some twist on “Who Watches the Watchmen” in reporting the numbers.

  • TheGaucho

    Thanks, Ashok, I was going to say the same. Where was The Dark Knight come Oscar-time? Two out of eight is not much. Ledger’s Oscar was well deserved, however, but I agree that I am not so sure he would have gotten it had he still been alive. And would that he was still alive! What other beautiful roles could he have given us! What a loss, what a loss…

  • Alli

    I disagree. There was some hype about his performance before his death, so not only do I think he would have been nominated, he would have won. Can you make an argument that someone is more deserving in the group that was nominated? I guess they could have said, “No we’re not giving it to a comic book film,” but his performance transformed that movie.

    Anyway, in terms of Watchmen, never underestimate the will of a rabid fanbase. I expect about $85M

  • drew ryce

    Ledger won the Oscar for a variety of reasons including the fact that many felt he should have won for Brokeback Mountain.

    Watchmen has zero star draw, the book is not nearly as well known as you might think, it’s being released on an odd 2 day weekend and the marketing has been weird.
    That said, the only bad weather is on the west coast and there is a solid corp of fans that are drumming up word of mouth.

    I am guessing, and guessing it is, at $68.5

  • e

    I’m going to go low… nothing’s going to get dark knight numbers. I’ll say 59 million.

  • e

    Considering how many people I just saw at midnight screenings, I might have to go higher.

  • Sara

    The theatre I saw the movie in was packed to capacity. That said, the marketing wasn’t like TDK at all, which I consider a good thing, so who knows? I also wasn’t surprised re: TDK come Oscar time. I kind of think that Ledger would have gotten the Oscar if he’d been there to receive it. Don’t know though. In terms of character acting, though, to me, The Watchmen has it all over TDK. Marketing, though, way way different, with TDK trying to pull in everyone with total bombardment everywhere prior to the film’s release, whereas, The Watchmen has no care to do that. It’s an adult film, afterall, not trying to pull in children, families. As mentioned above, too, The Watchmen isn’t known as well as Batman, so more would be drawn to Batman, I’d think.

  • drew ryce

    The current estimate is $25.1 Million for friday (which includes the $4M from the Thursday midnight shows).

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