Every Monday we all gather on the Internet or around the proverbial water cooler to discuss how much money such-and-such movie made over the weekend. What does that mean, though? If a movie grosses $500 million in three days, it’s plenty impressive, but how many people actually SAW it? That’s what “Butts in Seats” is all about. Using an average ticket price of $7.86 – the national average ticket price as of Q1 2011 – “Butt in Seats” gives you an idea of just how many people crammed their posteriors into theater seats over the course of the weekend. Note that all figures are rounded to the nearest hundred thousand.
This weekend was not a good one for new releases. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night were all new in theaters, and yet our No. 1 and No. 2 box office performers ended up being older releases: The Help in the top spot, with $20.5 million in ticket sales and roughly 2.6 million Butts in Seats, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes behind it, with $16.3 million at the box office and 2.1 million Butts.
Spy Kids and Conan sit at Nos. 3 and 4 on the weekend charts, with The Smurfs taking No. 5 over Fright Night thanks to a slim $100,000 lead. Amazingly, all three new releases had both 2D and 3D showings, where The Help and Rise did not. Even premium ticket prices couldn’t put the latest arrivals ahead of older releases, and they also mean significantly fewer Butts settled in.
Spy Kids took in $12 million, with 44 percent of its gross coming from 3D screenings. Accounting for an estimated average price of $11.86 per 3D ticket, we’re looking at a total of 1.3 million Butts between 2D and 3D for this one.
Of course, Spy Kids is also a family-friendly franchise, which means that a fair portion of tickets were sold at the reduced Child price. The Weinstein Company reports that roughly 65 percent of the movie’s audience was under the age of 12. Using $11.86 as our national average for 3D movie tickets and $5.86 as our national average for children’s tickets — plus $4 for 3D showings — we can estimate that roughly 1.6 million Butts, large and small, sat down for Kids. Assuming that the 44 percent 3D split applies evenly across both adults and children, that is.
The other two are far less complicated. Conan drew roughly 61 percent of its $10 million audience to 3D screenings, which translates to about 1 million Butts. The original Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring Conan from 1982 had a comparable opening weekend of $9.6 million, but the average ticket price back then was just $2.94 (!!!!). Roughly 3.2 million Butts turned out, slightly more than three times the number that came out this past weekend.
It’s a similar story with Fright Night, which also saw 61 percent of tickets sold go to 3D screenings. The movie’s $7.9 million weekend take comes out to roughly 700,000 Butts in Seats. The 1985 opening weekend wasn’t quite as strong from a pure numbers perspective, with just $6.1 million in sales. The $3.55 average ticket price in 1985 tells a different story, however, bringing the total attendance numbers up to roughly 1.7 million.
There was one other newcomer this past weekend, Focus Features’ non-3D romantic drama One Day. That one lives in the No. 9 spot on the weekend charts with $5.1 million in ticket sales. Despite sitting three positions below Fright Night‘s No. 6 ranking, One Day‘s 2D-only screenings managed to nearly rival the attendance figures for the vampire movie remake, with roughly 600,000 Butts in Seats.
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