erik lundegaard

Why Titanic is unsinkable

I’ve got a piece on MSNBC today about The Dark Knight’s box office and why it probably won’t pass Titanic’s domestic record of $600 million and why it definitely won’t pass Titanic’s worldwide gross of $1.8 billion. The latter prediction is a no-brainer and the former prediction is the result of finding a similar film (blockbuster, summer, PG-13), with similar percentage drop-offs (daily, weekly) and plugging in The Dark Knight’s original weekly total. That film is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (the second one) and here’s how its percentages calculate with The Dark Knight’s original numbers: 

Week   Box Office      % change   
 1 $238 million
 2$110 million
 3 $62 million
 4 $37 million
 5 $20 million
 6 $13 million -34.2%
 7 $9 million
 8 $6.7 million
 9 $6.7 million
 10 $3 million
 11 $2 million
 12 $1 million
 13 $737, 903
 14 $492,181 -33.3%
 15 $306,137 -37.8%
 16 $196,540 -35.8%
 17 $187,892 -4.4%
 18 $201,984 +7.5%
 19 $759,460 +276%
 20 $603,771 -20.5%
 21 $454,035 -24.8%

The total? $515 million.

How accurate is this formula? It predicts $110 million for Dark Knight’s second week; the film wound up making $112 million. So not bad so far.

The Dark Knight might do better than this, of course. For one, its percentage drop-offs, thus far, aren’t quite as high as Pirates'. Plus it’s a better film, and so should have longer legs, etc., and there’s Oscar buzz. But Titanic looks safe.

Of course that's what they said in 1912

Posted at 07:35 AM on Mon. Aug 04, 2008 in category Movies - Box Office, Movies  
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Mister B wrote:

I have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly (wait, put down that chair for a moment and hear me out!) and I just ran across an article discussing this very thing.

The article writer agrees with you.
Comment posted on Mon. Aug 04, 2008 at 08:51 AM

doc3osh wrote:

The article did something I really appreciated, which is adjusted for inflation so we could get a better idea of popularity. A couple of years ago I went a step further and tried to adjust for ticket sales as a percentage of population of the U.S. at the time of release (obviously only valid for domestic gross). Given that the US population was 218 million when "Jaws" came out, but 268 million when "Titanic" came out, and only 131 million when GWTW came out, how does that affect things? I don't remember the "top ten", but I do remember that GWTW was the massive, overpowering winner by a margin that boggled the mind.
Comment posted on Mon. Aug 04, 2008 at 10:58 AM

doc3osh wrote:

(I took the movie's domestic gross and divided it by average US ticket price the year of release, to get the number of tickets sold. Then I divided that by US population to get the "popularity"-- what percentage of the US population saw the movie in the theater. Much easier for movies that came out prior to, say, E.T., when the vast majority of revenue was still in the theater itself. If movies separate out domestic ticket gross from cable and DVD revenues, you can still do the math for more recent movies.)
Comment posted on Mon. Aug 04, 2008 at 11:05 AM

doc3osh wrote:

The above article shows actual ticket sales. Looking at that, you can see that Titanic sold 129M tickets while GWTW sold a staggering 202M tickets. So it seems like Titanic's popularity was 64% that of GWTW. But if you divide the ticket sales by the US population the year of release:

(1997 vs 1939), you find that GWTW sold an amazing 1.54 tickets for EVERY HUMAN IN THE US at that time. In 1997, Titanic sold 0.48 tix per person living in the US. So GWTW was actually more than 3 times as popular as Titanic-- Titanic was half as popular as it looks if you don't adjust for population.

Ok I'll shut up now.
Comment posted on Mon. Aug 04, 2008 at 11:20 AM

doc3osh wrote:

Ok one more thing: If you adjust for population, Jaws sold 0.58 tix per person, while Titanic sold 0.48. Which makes me feel better, because Jaws is a much better movie. So in the abcnews article above, Jaws would get moved up on the list from number 7 to number 6 and Titanic would drop. E.T. sold 0.61 tix per person. The Ten Commandments would probably get moved up to the number two spot from number 5. Star Wars would take some time to figure out... would have to use only the 1977 receipts to make it fair. Snow White would fly up the charts to number two or three all time (battling with Ten Commandments)... but I'm a little skeptical that the numbers from 1937 are accurate.

Roughly speaking though, the All-Time Blockbuster List would probably look like this: GWTW, Snow White, Ten Commandments, Star Wars, Sound of Music, E.T., Jaws, Titanic
Comment posted on Mon. Aug 04, 2008 at 11:37 AM

anoymous wrote:

yea its crazy that tianics gonna keep it and be safe atfer all but ets face itl at least the dak knight will make good money and be right up there with the seciond highest domstic film of all time and thatd a superhero one to date...
Comment posted on Fri. Aug 08, 2008 at 02:32 PM

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