The Quorum

Making Sense Of Wednesday Releases

To open on Wednesday, or not to open on Wednesday. That is, occasionally, the question. Upwards of 95% of wide releases arrive on a Friday (with Thursday night previews), though studios will occasionally drop a film two days earlier. Case in point: DESPICABLE ME 4 opened this week on Wednesday, July 3rd.

In this case, it makes sense. Thursday, July 4th, is a holiday, and most offices are closed on July 5th, so why not take advantage of the extra two days?

There are other reasons to open on Wednesday.

Consider the case of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART 1, which was scheduled to open on July 14th last year, one week before OPPENHEIMER. Because Christopher Nolan shot his Oscar-winning film using IMAX cameras, OPPENHEIMER was guaranteed exclusivity on IMAX screens. That left MISSION with only seven days on IMAX before OPPENHEIMER took all those playdates. Because nine days is better than seven, Paramount moved MISSION up two days to Wednesday, July 12th, to maximize its time in IMAX before OPPENHEIMER arrived.

Also consider the case of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURLES: MUTANT MAYHEM, which was scheduled to open on the same weekend as MEG 2: THE TRENCH. With both films targeting young men, Paramount moved the TURTLES to Wednesday to get a two-day head start on Warner’s MEG. By doing so, TURTLES banked $15M on Wednesday and Thursday before MEG arrived in theaters.

For the studios, these early releases make sense. For those looking at the history books, Wednesday releases muddy the waters. That’s because the official record books consider the Friday to Sunday period as a film’s opening weekend. Wednesday and Thursday grosses (excluding sneaks, which are folded into Friday) are gravy – they are not part of the opening weekend total.

Take a look at the daily grosses for TURTLES and MEG. As noted above, TURTLES baked $15M on Wednesday and Thursday (light blue). It added another $28M during the Friday to Sunday period, for a total of $43M. MEG didn’t have Wednesday or Thursday grosses but made $30M from Friday through Sunday. Officially, MEG won the weekend, even though TURTLES made more across the five days,

It does, however, beg the question: What would have TURTLES grossed if it hadn’t opened two days earlier? It could be argued that it would have made exactly the same amount. It’s easy to imagine that all those who bought tickets for Wednesday and Thursday would have gone over the weekend had the film received a traditional release. If you believe this theory, then TURTLES would have opened to $43M and won the weekend.

The converse argument states that had TURTLES opened on a Friday, it would have made more than $28M but less than $43M. That’s because the film’s availability on Wednesday and Thursday expanded the audience simply by being in theaters—the extra days added some walk-up business.

Obviously, there’s no way to know. The truth likely falls somewhere in between, though at The Quorum, we ascribe to the former. Those who go on Wednesday and Thursday tend to be the most passionate about the film and would see it the first chance they got, whether Wednesday or Friday.

That brings us back to DESPICABLE ME 4. Side by side, DM4 was tracking slightly ahead of MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU, which debuted to $107M two years ago. That would portend an opening weekend of about $120M for DM4. But there’s one big difference. GRU opened on a traditional three-day weekend, whereas DM4 arrived on a Wednesday.

It looks as though DM4 is on pace for an opening near $120M. That would track. The problem is that the film made roughly $45M on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving another $75M for the weekend. And there’s the problem. Though it made more than GRU, DM4’s opening will be logged as roughly $30M lower.

Does it matter? Not really. It still boils down to tickets sold. Where it is impactful is in the selection of comps. In the future, unless one looks closely, people will think that DM4 opened to $75M, as people believe TURTLES opened to $28M.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.