Well, this wasn't what we expected. According to initial estimations, Watchmen made less money in its first day than Zack Snyder's 300, despite playing in more theaters. Has the backlash happened early?
According to Exhibitor Relations, Watchmen made $25.1 million yesterday, including the $4.6 million from the Thursday night screenings, from 3,611 theaters; 300's first day gross was $28.1 million from 3,103 theaters. The box office tracking site now projects an opening weekend gross for Snyder's latest movie of around $60 million, which is below 300's $70.8 million... as well as, worryingly for Warners, Ice Age 2, the movie to hold the March opening weekend record prior to the swords and Spartans flick. Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke agrees, saying that "[i]t's now certain that $70M, even if Thursday's 1,600 midnight shows are included in the total, is impossible," and quoting an unnamed marketing guru warning that things could get worse:
They will get a lot of initial interest because it's an event movie in March — and then the bottom falls out. Whether Warner Bros can broaden the campaign to sustain interest in Watchmen is what movie analysts will be watching after this Sunday.
While there's no doubting that Watchmen's opening weekend will be huge - at $60 million, it'll still be the third largest March opening ever - it's far below what now look, in hindsight, like unrealistic expectations; even yesterday, after all, we were being told that advance tickets were outselling 300 and that that a $70 million weekend was the target (although /Film pretty much hit the target with their estimate of $63 million in the first weekend). Now, because of such excitement - and because 300 was being set up as the movie to compare this to, Watchmen's big weekend looks somewhat less impressive. But who knows? Maybe word of mouth will boost the movie's Saturday and Sunday.
"Watchmen" Scores $25.1 Mil Friday [Exhibitor Relations]