Manic Monday double release
This week, that Friday feeling came early. The industry, the media and the public have long been used to films being released on Fridays, as distributors and cinemas try to take full advantage of the weekend to boost the initial box-office takings.
Those weekend figures are used to decide the charts, which themselves help to drive a film’s success – or confine it to a short release.
Boxing Day openings are the only formal exception to this, but in recent years, distributors have increasingly been trying to get one up on their rivals and inflate their “opening weekend” takings by releasing their films a day or two early — officially, the release date remains the Friday, but they offer “paid previews” to eager audiences.
But this week, for the first time not one, but two major studios are releasing – or “previewing” – big summer blockbusters not one or two but four days early. This means that the entire week’s takings will count towards the “opening weekend” box office figure.
The Film Distributors Association has suggested that Disney’s decision to bring forward the opening of Brave and Universal’s early release of The Bourne Legacy could have something to do with the end of the Olympics; takings from an earlier could have been threatened by potential audiences prefering to enjoy the Games at home or on public big screens, but now that they can no longer get their daily dose of sport, they might be looking for something else to fill that time.
It’s also true that studios like to try to beat the reviews, so that ticket sales are driven more by word of mouth – helped by a rise in social networking – rather than being influenced by the often more critical reviews, which most papers publish on a Friday, ready for the weekend.
But releasing the films so early in the week means that by the time the competition, including the Expendables 2 and Take This Waltz, come out closer to the weekend, the Bourne Legacy and Brave will no longer be new, fresh and exciting releases when the bulk of the population head to the multiplexes this weekend, so it could backfire.
The next set of box office figures will show the studios whether the gamble has paid off, opening the way for major releases througout the week, as distributors weigh up extra weekday previews against the fresh factor of a hot new release, rather than one that’s been lingering for days.