Hollywood’s wager on summer sequels is paying off big time

Hollywood’s wager on summer sequels is paying off big time
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First Published: Sat, May 26 2007. 12 32 AM IST
Updated: Sat, May 26 2007. 12 32 AM IST
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End will probably become the third movie this month to generate more than $100 million (Rs410 crore) in its first weekend, a sign that Hollywood studios’ bet on sequels is paying off.
Debuts of Shrek the Third and Spider-Man 3 both exceeded $100 million, the first time more than one film has topped that sum in a four-week period, according to Media By Numbers LLC. They are among the eight films to reach the mark.
Walt Disney Co.’s Pirates is among 14 sequels rolling out this summer. Spider-Man 3 started 4 May and took in a three-day record of $151 million. Shrek the Third had the biggest debut for an animated film at $122 million.
In India, Spider-Man 3 has drawn phenomenal ticket sales and is estimated to gross at least $16.2 million, much more than any Hindi film released in the last six months.
“They’re just saturating the marketplace in the first week,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers, said in an interview. “You need to make your mark before the audience migrates to the next blockbuster.”
Box office: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is slated to draw more than $100 million in ticket sales in its first weekend.Pirates will take in about $130 million Friday through Sunday, well below the total for Spider-Man 3, predicts Gitesh Pandya, editor of Boxofficeguru.com. For the four-day holiday weekend, Pandya forecast sales of about $162 million. That compares with $116 million four-day forecast by New York-based JP Morgan Securities analyst Imran Khan.
The sequel strategy has lifted overall sales as it has broken records. As of 20 May, ticket sales in the US and Canada were up 6.6% to $3.28 billion from a year earlier, according to Media By Numbers, based in Encino, California. Studios were helped by ticket prices that rose 3.7% to an average of $6.79, or Rs271.
Other sequels this summer include Time Warner Inc.’s Ocean’s Thirteen, which opens 8 June; News Corp.’s Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer on 15 June; and Universal Pictures’ Evan Almighty on 22 June in the US. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, also from Time Warner, the world’s biggest media company, begins showing 13 July.
“We’re witnessing a renaissance in the movie business,” said Paul Kagan, chief executive officer of market researcher PK Worldmedia Inc. in Carmel, California. “It’s a robust business for big hits.”
Pirates, which has made for about $225 million in revenue, returns Johnny Depp in the role of ne’er-do-well sea captain Jack Sparrow.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, Depp’s inspiration for his character, appears in a cameo role as Sparrow’s father. The role is Richards’ first in a feature film.
Sony Corp. and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., led by Jeffrey Katzenberg, have said they want to make sequels to Spider-Man and Shrek. “A fourth film in each of these series will be good if the studios stay true to the principles of the franchise,” Kagan said. “They can’t lose if it’s done right,” he added.
Hindustantimes.com contributed to this story
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First Published: Sat, May 26 2007. 12 32 AM IST