Butts In Seats | <i>Apes</i> Continues Its Box-Office Domination

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.

Last week, Butts came out in large numbers to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The story is much the same this time around, with the Rupert Wyatt-directed prequel once again taking the top box office spot for the weekend. The $27.5 million in ticket sales boils down to roughly 3.5 million theater-goers over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a little less than half of last week's turnout.

Of the weekend's two big releases, Disney's adaptation of The Help came the closest to threatening Apes' dominance, with $25.5 million in ticket sales, or roughly 3.2 million Butts in Seats. Neither movie comes in 3D or IMAX flavors, either, meaning these numbers aren't influenced at all by premium ticket prices.

It's a totally different story with Final Destination 5, the No. 3 weekend box office performer. A big deal was made about the latest entry in the series getting the 3D treatment, and the sales numbers predictably reflect that, with a whopping 75 percent of Final moviegoers springing for premium tickets.

In addition, there's a sharp drop-off in box office earnings after The Help, with FD5 sitting at $18.4 million. Factoring in the number of premium ticket sales -- using $11.86 as our ticket price average (national average plus $4) -- we're left with just 1.8 million Butts in Seats for the New Line horror flick. In terms of actual theatergoers, the movie is only just ahead of the top 10 list's number five spot, the Ruben Fleischer comedy 30 Minutes or Less that also debuted over the weekend, earning $13 million and planting roughly 1.7 million Butts in Seats.

The same would be the case for The Smurfs, with $13.5 million in the weekend's No. 4 spot. However, unlike 30 Minutes, The Smurfs is a 3D offering. It's also a family film, meaning some of the premium ticket buys are offset by the abundance of child tickets purchased. Still, unless virtually everyone who turned out for the blue cartoon stars this weekend went for 2D showings, it's a pretty safe bet that a Butts in Seats box office chart would put the movie much lower down on the Top 10 list.

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