The ‘Watchmen’ IMAX Experience

Welcome to my preview of a new blog coming soon called “Hollywood on the Run,” which will showcase a “behind the scenes” look at the inner workings of Hollywood and the people, companies and content that make the entertainment industry tick.

Here I talk to Greg Foster, the president of IMAX about the highly anticipated release of Watchmen and the company’s philosophy of working in close partnership with both filmmakers and studios alike.

And this is my weekend’s box office roundup for Mar. 8. It’s the fifth consecutive “up” weekend at the box-office is dominated by Watchmen.

A pitch-perfect marketing campaign by Warner Brothers and a great release date enabled Watchmen to post some very impressive numbers. Obviously expectations were very high for the film with some predicting numbers rivaling director Zack Snyder’s 2007 hit 300 and its $70.9 million debut.

With Thursday midnight preview grosses of $4.6 million (the film also sold out all 124 of those midnight shows that were in IMAX), the film earned a total of $25.135 million on Friday, $19.020 million on Saturday and an estimated $11.5 for Sunday. With a total weekend take of $55.655 million, the IMAX screens certainly made a huge contribution earning $5.525 million for the weekend on 124 screens for a per screen average of $44,556.

This is the second biggest opening in IMAX history (The Dark Knight was $6.3 mil) and represented 10 percent of the Watchmen entire domestic biz on only 124 screens, thus solidifying IMAX’s position as the cinema of choice for the tech-savvy fan boys.

Dropping way down to the No. 2 spot Madea Goes to Jail continued its impressive run at the box-office earning another $8.8 million and bringing its total to $76.5 million. It is now the highest grossing Tyler Perry film beating 2006’s Madea’s Family Reunion with a $63.3 million total.

In the third spot, Taken was just as stubborn and tenacious as Liam Neeson’s character in the film with a miniscule sixth weekend drop of just 24 percent (amazingly, its hold on the box-office is actually strengthening as time goes on — two weeks ago the film had a fourth weekend drop of 41 percent) and its total box-office approaching the $120 million mark. This film could stay in the Top 10 seemingly forever if this keeps up.

The fourth place went to Best Picture Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, on the cusp of becoming the highest grossing of the five best picture nominees with another $7 million in Oscar cash and a total of $125.4 million domestically.

Finally the top five was rounded out by the ever-present Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which like Taken has a kung-fu grip on the box-office with another $4.2 million in the mall, a measly 25 percent drop and a whopping $133.6 million in gift cards to its credit. Perhaps Kevin James and Liam Neeson should pair up in a future film to fight crime and kick some butt at the box-office.

The fifth “up” weekend in a row as the box-office blitz continues with a 16.5 percent revenue advantage over last year as we continue our March toward the start of the Summer movie season.

THREE-DAY STUDIO ESTIMATES (source by Media by Numbers)

1. NEW! Watchmen (Warner Bros) – $55.6M; 3611 theaters; $15,413 PTA

2. Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (Lionsgate) – $8.8M; 2151 theaters; $4,091 PTA; -46%; $76.5M cume

3. Taken (Fox) – $7.4M; 3016 theaters; $2,470 PTA; -24%; $118M cume

4. Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) – $6.9M; 2890 theaters; $2,396 PTA; -42%; $125.4M cumer

5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Sony/Columbia) – $4.2M; 2558 theaters; $1,642 PTA; -25%; $133.6M cumer

6. He’s Just Not That Into You (Warner Bros.) – $4M; 2445 theaters; $1,644 PTA; -33%; $84.6M cumer

7. Coraline (Focus) – $3.3M; 1497 theaters; $2,213 PTA; -37%; $65.6M cumer

8. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Disney) – $3.1M; 2290 theaters; $1,371 PTA; -32%; $38.3M cumer

9. Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (Disney) – $2.7M; 1276 theaters; $2,183 PTA; -78%; $16.7M cume

10. Fired Up (Sony/Screen Gems) – $2.6M; 1790 theaters; $1,453 PTA; -30%; $13.3M cume

While at IMAX I also spoke with David Keighley, the head of Post-Production and got insights into the more technical aspects of the incredible IMAX process…

Stay tuned for more to come!

Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.