Wednesday, 16 May 2012

3D is Steroid Use and the Record That Matters

I always assumed I’d see the moment when a movie made over 200 million in a single weekend. I just figured I’d be well into my 30’s when this happened. But, here I am, almost 25 years old and The Avengers did it. 207 million in a single weekend. Congratulations to everyone at Marvel, Joss Whedon and everyone else involved. You not only surpassed the record, you demolished it. Yet while we salute them, we should all realize who it is they are thanking. Just a little friend we all like to call 3D.

I want to first say that The Avengers was a great movie. Just an insane amount of fun and humor, crazy shots and OMG-type action. While I didn’t love The Avengers, I was as close to it as I could have gotten. I really, really, really, really liked it.

Now, with that said lets all pull back the curtain and address the issue that seems to be passing most people by. See, I find myself talking with or reading people’s comments and notice how they seem to be throwing this number into the faces of all those fans of Harry Potter (the last film in that series was the previous record holder and in 3D) and the fans of The Dark Knight (the record holder before Potter and the main “competition” to Marvel). It easily beat both of those records by almost 40 million, (and the fans of Avengers seem to have taken the proverbial flag of the record and placed it in their camp like they did this without any special help.) I say special because The Dark Knight is often attacked for its record by using the excuse of Heath Ledger’s death before the films release as the main reason the film did so well.

So, lets just get it out there. The Avengers had help. A lot of help. The only way to truly compare what The Avengers did is to compare it to athletes using steroids. The Avengers is a record on steroids. 3D gives a movie’s release such an extra boost that it baffles me to no end people don’t realize it’s unfair to compare this to something like The Dark Knight, or Spider-Man or even the recently released Hunger Games film.

I paid 17.99 to see The Avengers. I saw this in an AVX theatre in 3D. I paid 11.95 to see The Dark Knight. I paid 8.95 to see Spider-Man. All three I contributed to the opening weekend of those record breaking films. Most of us did.

Without going into complete full detail into the math I performed on this, The Avengers record when adjusted for 2008 inflation of ticket prices actually made around 180 million. Still quite a butt-load of cash. However, this isn’t taking into account the 3D ticket prices which add on an additional $2.00 per ticket. When you take into account the amount of screenings at a theatre that are 3D to the ones that are 2D, it’s almost 2:1. As you can see, and I know you’re not dumb, this pretty much forces you to pay $15.99 to $17.99 if you want to see the film. If you do the math correctly and average out the ticket prices, The Avengers made around 162 million, give or take a few hundred thousand. That is comparable to The Dark Knight. Again this is rough math, since I did not take into account children and senior ticket prices, nor the percentage of those kinds of tickets sold. That being said, even if I’m a few million off, comparing the grosses, The Avengers didn’t beat The Dark Knight by that much.

That is how much 3D plays a part in record breaking. It’s not exactly fair to put a non-3D movie up against one that has it, since they are asking for different amounts of money from you. As well, ticket prices go up every year. More and more so, the prices have increased in higher and higher jumps for the last 10 years.

So, this brings me to my point. I feel as though, while this record is really cool and I’m glad something with as high of quality as The Avengers has this record, it’s a bit misleading to think it destroyed Harry Potter and The Dark Knight, or even Spider-Man. Yes, a lot of people went to see The Avengers. Theatres were sold out. But so were the other films opening weekends. The record that studios and the movie going public should be looking at or asking for is number of tickets sold. That is the record we should all be looking at. How many individual tickets were sold between Friday and Sunday. Since, in the end that’s what really counts. How many people saw it. How many people saw it twice in that single, three day span. That really shows the power of a film. How popular it was. With prices changing all over the place, what really counts is how many butts were in the seats.

But we will never get that kind of information released. It’s too blinding for studios to use the amount of money made, than tickets sold, to show us how many people saw the film. And it’s all one movie’s fault. A little film called Star Wars.

Star Wars was released in 1977. The average movie ticket cost a whopping $2.23. It made, just domestically, $460,988,007 in its entire run. That means somewhere around 206 million tickets were sold. If you do the same equation for The Avengers on its opening weekend, it sold 26 million tickets. That means even if every one of those tickets was a new person watching the film, no repeat watches, everyone who saw it would have to see it another 7 times to beat Star Wars. Of course I realize that not everyone that is going to see Avengers, saw it opening weekend. But you can see the vast gap that Star Wars left. The Avengers would have to make 1.4 billion domestically to equal the amount of tickets sold by Star Wars.

Now that’s something I’d like to see The Avengers do. And if it does, I’ll be the first to salute it. But its doubtful. That’s because nothing is ever going to match the ridiculous phenomenon that was Star Wars back in the late 70’s. And for that, we are stuck comparing the always misleading and mismatched opening weekend records.

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