'Sex and the City' Box Office Outlook
Sex and the City poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published May 28, 2008
Sex and the City has been selling out LA and NY in advance at a very impressive rate. My first reaction was that it could just be in the big movie cities, but looking at it closer, this movie does have the potential to surprise.
This one feels big. And it feels like one of those movies that could make jaws drop when the numbers come in. Sex and the City has been selling out LA and NY in advance at a very impressive event-movie rate in the last week. My first reaction was that it could just be in the big movie cities, the show's hardcore fans coming out in a frenzy - and let's not even begin to ask how much this thing will make in Manhattan where its story about sex resides (where it will probably look like Star Wars on Friday). But looking at it closer, this movie does have the potential to be a big surprise hit at the box office.

Sex and the City, based on the HBO cable series, has the potential of being another Borat, which also came from HBO. Both have huge enthusiastic cult audiences, and Sarah Jessica Parker's Failure to Launch, opened to $24 million partly as a result of her appeal from Sex and the City. But this is the real thing: The Big Sex and the City Movie, which could push it much higher, especially when there are three other ladies involved other than Parker of whom many different women can relate to. Borat had two weekends in a row of being in the mid-to-high $20 million range, a rare scenario, first when it opened conservatively in 800 theaters, and the next week as well when it expanded to 3,000. Putting those two together, that's $55 million.

Sex and the City is being positioned as the next First Wives Club/What Women Want but with an R-rating. This means that it'll probably play like gangbusters in the top movie cities, taking in big sales from edgier demographics. Those comedies were PG-13 and this is R, which will be interesting to see how its results compare. Adjusted with ticket sale inflation and The First Wives Club would be $31 million and What Women Want would gross $45 million today.

I think of The Break-Up ($39 million) considering its first week of June release, but it seems Sex and the City's cult is even more powerful than Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston's star-power. Break-Up didn't sell out this early in advance, but Sex and the City could end up being more of an LA/NY-big event movie in comparison. I also think of Bridget Jones's Diary 2 in terms of its huge per-screen average on opening weekend. It first debuted in 500 theaters to a $9 million weekend but averaged a huge $16,000 per-screen, which indicated a big Bridget Jones cult in the top movie cities.

I could see an opening day gross between $18 and 25 million, but the movie is also a long two hours and fifteen minutes and is rated R. Its running time is ten minutes longer than Star Wars, which is the film that this experience will probably be like for many women. The cable show has a topic and an attitude that its female fans understand religiously. This is almost the equivalent of had they made Friends into a feature length movie.

Borat was R and had come from HBO and the movie grossed $130 million domestically. And HBO would probably be a goldmine to keep drawing from for films. If Sex really sells, it could only be a matter of time before The Sopranos turns into a film, and that would probably make a killing at the box office; HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm could probably play like Borat if ever made, and Six Feet Under could probably be another American Beauty. So taking Sex and the City to the big screen is probably a genius marketing move. The film has the potential of grossing $125 - 150 million this summer, potentially making it out to be the year’s big movie for women.
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