I still follow the numbers. Every Saturday I hit MCN or B.O. Mojo to see how much business the movies did. These numbers told the story of how my Monday was going to go. Sometimes I'd stop by the office and see exactly how my theaters did. I worked in exhibition for a theater chain for five years and had over a hundred screens under my belt. It wasn't a hard job, per se, but there were things to it. You don't get to add second prints on Monday normally, print buys were long done by then, so there was always a gambling aspect to the job. I sometimes think of one of the last gambles I took (and lost) and wonder if that reflected on me being let go. Sometimes I think it did, but mostly I figure the books were closed long before I got myself into a small hot spot.
Off topic, but just the same, I'm glad things have worked out how they have, and I'm glad to be in LA with my often glowing pregnant wife. We're more than three months down, with less than six to go. We're expecting in early October. Scary scary. The doctor's appointments have gone well. We've decided we're waiting until birth to find out the kid's sex.
But the old job is why I'm fascinated by M:I:III's 17 million dollar opening. It tells a story, because nowadays one day's number suggests the fate of a film. Word of Mouth has been successfully killed as a factor into long playdates for big films. Sure, word of mouth happens, but it's few (The Sixth Sense) and far between (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and isn't effective on what are considered easy sells. Most word of mouth goes now (thanks in some small part to AICN) to pictures before they open. They solidify the see/not see factor. And once you've studied the patterns of box office, you get a pretty concrete sense of what a number spells, because you've seen those numbers before.
And then also, the 17? Could be fictional. The film's reported budget of 150? More than likely made up. Cruise gets back end (hey now) percentage points. The film has been in development for years. The film was also probably shot in a lot of Paramount owned locations, so the studio paid itself money to make its own movie. Numbers are often fudged a little to make people happy.
Me, I'm going to see United 93 tonight.