‘Grand Theft Auto’ Won’t Affect ‘Iron Man’: Studios

In a survey of studio sources this week, execs were unanimous in saying that the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3 video game sensation launching on Tuesday, will have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the box office performance of Paramount’s Iron Man in its opening 3 days.

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has claimed in a Financial Times interview that movie execs have told him that “Iron Man the movie is going to get killed by Grand Theft Auto the game.” In fact, every exec we spoke to said this theory seems like a fabrication. “Video games are video games, and movies are movies,” one studio type told us. “The average 18-year-old can probably break away from his Xbox for two hours at some point. He needs to take his girlfriend out on a date, doesn’t he?”

The reality is that when Halo 3, the last video game blockbuster, was released last September 25, it had no effect on that weekend’s movies. Disney’s The Game Plan, starring The Rock, opened well above expectations just three days later with almost $23M and went on to $90M domestic. There is, frankly, no evidence that video games and movies are in direct competition despite the fact that they may share segments of the audience.

Iron Man will open huge. Paramount is predicting a $75M opening, but with a 50%+ Definite Interest number and a 30%+ First Choice score, this movie will fly well past that mark. We are, however, slightly scaling back our predictions for the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle’s opening weekend.

Here are my final predictions for the first weekend of the summer blockbuster season.

1. Iron Man (Paramount) – $97M (Fri-Sun) – $102M (Thur night-Sun)

2. Made of Honor (Sony) – $16.75M

3. Baby Mama (Universal) – $8.9M

4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) – $6.8M

5. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo (Warner Bros) – $6.7M

6. The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) – $6.25M

7. Nim’s Island (Fox) – $3M

8. 21 (Sony) – $2.7M

9. Prom Night (Sony) – $2.2M

10. Horton Hears a Who (Fox) – $1.6M