Will Man of Steel's Wal-Mart Screenings Count Toward the Box Office?

0commentsANSIN-MANOFSTEEL-R-PRESS

Will the discounted Wal-Mart tickets count toward Man of Steel's opening weekend box office take? And if so, how? The mega-retailer provided discounted tickets to customers who pre-purchased them through electronics departments at Wal-Mart stores around the country, and the early screenings--if ours, and the Internet, are any guide--were well-attended. Still, my wife overheard a manager at our local Regal admitting to one of his subordinates that he didn't have any idea how many moviegoers to expect, as Wal-Mart had failed to contact them with numbers on how many tickets were sold. This morning, Deadline reported that "Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures' hotly anticipated third Superman franchise reboot opens officially in North America at midnight although the studio says it's having "only corporate group sales" participate in an earlier screening at 7 PM today." That certainly sounds like Warners is accounting for the money somehow, but with theaters unable to report back to the studio exactly how much revenue was generated from the early screenings, it doesn't seem outside of the realm of possibility that the studio could be left hanging, waiting on numbers from a company whose primary focus is not the screening of movies, just like Regal was. Of course, the producers are likely happy with their Wal-Mart deal either way; there's a reported $160 million or more already generated through commercial tie-ins, endorsements and product placement deals to offset the film's reported $225 million budget. That means the movie will almost certainly be in the black by the end of this weekend, when it's expected to gross (depending on who you ask) between $80 million and $139 million. So why does it matter one way or another how much the film generated from the 7 p.m. screenings? Well, because most analysts are predicting the film to make about $100 million. That means a small upward variation could push it over $110 and give it the best-ever opening weekend for a film released in June. Those kinds of records, even though they're typically short-lived, are exactly what studios contemplating a sequel like to hear...