Good news abounds in Pop Cultureland. The Giants won the Super Bowl, and—even better for TV junkies—the ad execs were at the top of their games, too. The writers’ strike looks like its in its last throes, and a deal may be announced as early as this week. And box office has been good recently, even though the winter is typically a low-grossing time for movies, thanks to a couple of 3-D concert films.
The first film is about U2. Though not my personal favorite, by all measures U2 is one of the most successful rock bands in the world. Throughout their almost 30-year career, the group has garnered both critical and popular acclaim, with seven albums reaching the top spot on the “The Billboard 200″ and winning 19 Grammy awards, not to mention all of the accolades frontman Bono’s has received for his humanitarian efforts. (Go Bono!)
It makes sense, then, that a rock band with such mainstream appeal would be a big box-office draw. Hence U2 3D, an IMAX concert film compiled from seven different shows on the band’s Vertigo tour, which producers say uses “the largest collection of 3-D camera technology ever used for a single project.” (Want to see Bono’s bespectacled face in three huge, awesome dimensions? U2 3D is playing at the IMAX screens at Cinema De Lux, New Roc City, and the Palisades Mall.)
As you would expect, U2 3D did pretty well for an IMAX movie. In its opening weekend the film made $964,315, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but the movie only opened in 61 theaters across the country.
So how do you dismantle a rock dynasty? Send in a teenage girl.
On February 1, just nine days after the release of U2 3D, pop-culture juggernaut Miley Cyrus—who wasn’t even born until 12 years after U2 released its first album—released her 3-D concert movie: Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour. The U2 movie did well. The Hannah Montana movie was a license to print money.
Demand for tickets to the one-week-only movie was so high that, according to The Hot Blog, online ticket retailer Fandango sent out a press release last Wednesday noting that 1,000 shows had already sold out, and that theaters were scrambling to add screenings beginning at 8 am and lasting past midnight. Three days before the movie opened, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tickets accounted for 91 percent of all ticket sales on Fandango.
Our area was not immune to Mileymania. One Ridgefield, CT, mom told the Huffington Post on January 18 that she couldn’t find one theater that could accommodate all 21 girls in her Girl Scout troop. “It was impossible to get that many tickets for a single show,” she told the site. “We all had to break up to try to find tickets and we are all at different showtimes.” That was 13 days before the movie opened. (Want to press your luck? Try finding tickets at the Greenburgh Multiplex, Cinema De Lux, The All-Westchester Saw Mill Multiplex, Clearview’s Central Plaza, AMC Port Chester, New Roc City, The Cross County, or the Palisades Center.)
Oh, the money! It’s not fair to directly compare the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus movie to the U2 movie, since U2 was released only in IMAX. But heck, let’s do it anyway. According to Yahoo! News, a typical wide-release film, if it hits No. 1 at the box office, usually opens on 3,000 screens and makes about $7,000 per screen its opening weekend. U2 did more than twice that business: As noted before, it made $964,315 in 61 theaters, giving it a per-screen average of $15,808. The Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus movie blew that away, making $29 million its opening weekend on 683 screens, with a whopping per-screen average of $42,459. That’s six times as much as the average box-office winner.
It’s also worth noting that Best of Both Worlds commanded a higher ticket price—just because it could. On the same day, at the same time, a ticket to U2 cost $13.25 at Cinema De Lux, while the Miley Cyrus movie cost $15 on a smaller screen. This is further fuel for my scary prediction that in the future, premium entertainment will cost more.
Speaking of my (whack) predictions for the future, I expect the success of Best of Both Worlds to inspire more pop-culture product aimed at the preteen girl demo. I know, it doesn’t take a genius to come up with that prognostication. I’m thinking Club Penguin: The Movie and the 24-hour Bratz cable network. Tyra Banks, Rachel Ray, and Oprah should all watch out! In the future, they will all be replaced by that girl from iCarly. Also, if I were you, I’d grab a daughter, niece, or neighbor and heavily invest in whatever she has plastered on her bedroom walls. I predict this will mean a rise in stock for Webkinz and Lisa Frank.
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