Weekend Outlook Chat (April 1 - 3)
Sin City poster
By Staff of LMI     Published March 31, 2005
I have a feeling this is going to be similar {to Team America}: the film could play really well in specific cities, or college towns, but not so great elsewhere.
Added Thurs 8PM ET: WSEX box office lines for Sin City $30.5 million

Jason: Your prediction for Sin City isn't that far out there, given Elektra's ($12.8 million) surprisingly soft opening weekend. It?s definitely on the low end of the spectrum in my opinion, but still possible if Saturday really drops off.

Lee: I think it's one of the easier films to predict a strong opening for because a lot of film buffs want to see it. But does it extend beyond film buffs? They're a limited audience. I thought Team America ($12.1 million - $4,774 per-screen) was going to be a hit like Jackass and it tapped into a very limited group of people. Not everyone wanted to see puppets, despite that it was made by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and here not everyone digs black and white.

Jason: For some reason I think of Coyote Ugly ($17.4 million). The Friday surprised on the upside, and then it went downhill by Saturday.

Lee: Coyote Ugly is possible, but that was also a Jerry Bruckheimer production. It also opened in August, so the Saturday drop isn?t a big shock. Its opening night per-screen average was right in line with Once Upon a Time in Mexico?s, but I think Robert Rodriguez got lucky with that since Johnny Depp was coming off of Pirates of the Caribbean. Rodriguez is not a household name like Tarantino. And this doesn?t have an Uma Thurman.

Jason: If you look at last year, the weekend was quite strong: Hellboy opened on Friday, April 2 with $8.6 million, and that didn't really have any stars or a popular comic story behind it.

Lee: I was originally at Kill Bill: Volume 1 ($22.1 million) / Hellboy box office, but for the most part they were mainstream movies. Sin City has a hardcore edge, and it's likely to either face the impact for that on Friday or Saturday. And Tarantino is only a special effects supervisor, and so that probably means very little to most people. It's not like Hero ($18.0 million - $8,863 per-screen) where Miramax tried to make it look like he directed it, which helped the box office.

Jason: They've added his name in big letters at the end of the trailer. If you didn't know better and just glanced at the trailer, you'd think he directed it, or wonder what a "guest director" is.

Lee: How much of a draw is Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, and Benecio Del Toro to most moviegoers? It has Bruce Willis, but so did Hostage ($10.2 million - $4,811 per-screen), and that was a mainstream thriller.

Jason: With a much smaller release and less buzz.

Lee: This might be biased, but I haven't seen one trailer for it in theaters. I saw at least one preview for Volume 1, and it was at The Rundown ($18.5 million). And the posters I've seen only highlight an individual character rather than the whole show ? they don't say much.

Jason: I initially rejected your prediction, but I was pretty confident Elektra was going to make at least $15 million and probably $20 million.

Lee: How many times has film noir been pushed into theaters?

Jason: Dark City ($5.6 million - $3,193 per-screen) had a lot less buzz, and it completely failed theatrically.

Lee: I didn't think about Dark City, that?s a pretty good comparison. I doubt Sin City will fare as poorly, but it?s up that alley in terms of style of filmmaking.

Jason: It came out in 1998 with very little advertising.

Lee: Sky Captain ($15.6 million) had the visual effects factor, but that was also attractive to families (the PG rating), and I would even say the star-power was more universally appealing to audiences than here. This is a film buff cast.

Jason: I was thinking about that. There's no question Sin City has a more impressive cast on a cult level, but to the average moviegoer, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow might be a bigger draw.

Lee: I saw Team America with 1000 people on opening night, and was surprised when it only made $4.5 million that Friday after being at that screening. I have a feeling this is going to be similar: the film could play really well in specific cities (like LA), or college towns, but not so great elsewhere. Like you said before, there'll probably be some packed crowd reports on Friday, but those might just be in the top markets. A 3000 theater count release is a big gamble for a black and white film noir flick, especially with an R-rating.

Jason: I have to say, though, the low box office prediction aside, that it looks visually spectacular.

Lee: I think it looks neat, but I can so easily see the awe fading away quickly, like Final Fantasy ($11.4 million), which is another comparison.

Jason: Sin City only cost $45 - 46 million, according to the director.

Lee: For me style only does so much, and many moviegoers probably feel the same way. Ballistic ($7.0 million) was a nearly non-stop, stylish action movie, and it was terrible, and it flopped.

Jason: I'm probably going with around $15 million.

Lee: To me it's a wildcard between $13 - 20. Even if it opens to around $2500/2600 a screen on Friday, it's going to be hard not to fall on Saturday. And in that regard it could be Exorcist: The Beginning ($18.1 million - $6,441 per-screen), but even that was very mainstream.

Jason: This could be reverse Diary of a Mad Black Woman ($21.9 million).

Lee: Someone claimed that if Tyler Perry can do $20 with Mad Black Woman, Frank Miller can with this. I thought that was a bad analogy ? they had very different concepts/audiences and release plans.

Jason: If Sin City has sold near $100 million in comics, maybe that analogy would work.

Lee: Has it?

Jason: I actually don't know. We probably don't want to make the same mistake as we did with Mad Black Woman.

Lee: A month ago I would've called myself crazy for this prediction.

Jason: You're not leaving yourself much of a margin for error. It's hard to see it make any less than your prediction.

Lee: With wildcards it's kind of hard to leave a margin of error. Depending on whether Beauty Shop increases its theater count on Friday, I might have Sin City topping, but it wouldn?t be with much more than I already have.

Jason: You could predict between $13 - 20, with $16 or so.

Lee: But then I'd feel guilty having wimped out at the last second if it ends up at $13. It?s usually good to go with your gut instinct. I'm willing to say $13 - 14.5.

Jason: You still going with Beauty Shop at #1? I don't know if that will happen in the weekend estimates. If Sin City wins Friday, you know the estimates are probably going to be too high. Dimension will pull a Scream 2 and claim the weekend is higher than it is to look impressive.

Lee: The Punisher did $13.8, but it wasn't black and white.

Jason: That seems to be good evidence that Sin City could do more. This is probably a good weekend not to bet on the box office unless you're really sure Sin City is going to be a hit. I guess another movie to look at is Honey ? Jessica Alba seems to be the main draw.

Lee: Honey opened to $13, but in only 1942 theaters ($6,750/screen). And the story was in the league of what girls like to see. Sin City is very evidently a guy's flick. With Kill Bill, Uma Thurman targeted both males and females.

Jason: Sin City?s probably not a great date movie, at least for most couples.

Lee: And Once Upon a Time in Mexico had diverse appeal because of Depp's sex appeal.

Jason: We?ll just have to wait until Saturday morning.

Lee: I originally thought Beauty Shop had a good shot at Barbershop ($20.6 million) business, but the new trailer makes me think otherwise. There also seems to be a last-minute ad campaign.

Jason: That setup has to get old eventually.

Lee: Is the casting of Andie MacDowell, Kevin Bacon, Alicia Silverstone, and Mena Suvari going to do anything? Besides noting that the producers don't want to have an-all black cast this time?

Jason: I think that move could backfire.

Lee: I was actually surprised they didn't have some of the actors from Barbershop in cameos, with the creativity these days. Queen Latifah hasn't proven that she's a strong draw since Bringing Down the House. Taxi ($12.1 million - $4,008 per-screen) didn't do that well, and The Cookout ($5.0 million - $3,838 per-screen) disappeared quickly. There's Barbershop 2 ($24.2 million - $8,940 per-screen), but it had a built-in audience already. And both Barbershops appealed to males and females ? this is obviously a chick flick. Guys are going to have courage if they accept the Saturday night date.

Chick flicks like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days ($23.8 million) and Legally Blonde ($20.4 million) can sell, but they weren?t for the same demographic. If this movie?s aimed at a younger black female audience than How Stella Got Her Groove Back ($11.3 million in 1393 theaters - $8,126 per-screen) or Waiting to Exhale ($14.1 million in 1253 theaters - $11,274 per-screen), and with this theater count, there are few optimistic comparisons.

Brown Sugar did $10.7 million and averaged $6,580 per-screen, but in only 1372 theaters. The Best Man opened to $9.1 million and $6,746 per-screen in only 1346 theaters. And despite that the audience was a little older, Two Can Play That Game did $7.7 million and $5,952 per-screen.

White Chicks had 2726 theaters, opened on a Wednesday like this does, and grossed $19.7 million in three days, but the Wayans brothers usually attract both genders, and I think the ad-campaign lasted longer. I didn?t think the trailer was good, but I think it left more of an impression than the one for Beauty Shop does. The preview seems so dull in terms of punch lines, and not much of a story is suggested. Barbershop 2 didn?t have much of a story, but it built off the cast of the first installment and the addition of Latifah.

Jason: In limited release: Control, Girl Play, Look at Me, and The Great Mughal.
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'Sin City' Articles
  • Scott's Top 10 Films of 2005
    January 7, 2006    What I really love about {Sin City} is that it pushes the boundaries of cinema; love it or hate it, you have to admit that you?ve never seen anything like it. -- Scott Sycamore
  • Scott's Sin City review A
    April 12, 2005    This movie is a big neon middle finger to all those who think they know what movies should be like. -- Scott Sycamore
  • Craig's Sin City review D+
    April 2, 2005    It has no story to speak of other than to show how decent its heroes are and how deranged its villains are, while keeping us from caring about them. -- Craig Younkin
  • Friday Box Office Analysis (4/1)
    April 2, 2005    Its durability will be very questionable, and considering it?s even more of a cult film than Kill Bill, it stands a chance of dropping like a rock. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Craig's Spring Movie Preview
    February 27, 2005    Filled with danger and mystery at every turn, this is one of the greatest looking trailers I've ever seen. -- Craig Younkin