'Attack of the Clones' Lands $6 Million Short of Fox Estimate

by Brandon Gray
May 20, 2002

When the $80,027,814 final tally for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones's weekend was issued on Monday, 20th Century Fox's $86.15 million estimate from Sunday turned out to be off by $6.12 million. That raised a number of eyebrows, especially in light of rival studios' estimates that had Clones pegged at closer to $80 million.

Normally, uber-openers see at most a $2 million difference between actual and estimate. Sony, for instance, estimated $114 million for Spider-Man, and the actual ended up as $114,844,116. Add in the $30.1 million Thursday to Clones' inflated weekend estimate and its four-day take was $116.3 million, or higher than Spider-Man's three-day record.

As is usually the case, the estimate was the number that was widely reported in the general media.

But don't accuse Fox of "pulling a Miramax," the studio that notoriously reported Scream 2's opening as $39.2 million back in 1997 only to have it revised days after the damage had been done to $32.9 million.

When Fox released the Clones estimate, it had the picture at $25.2 million on Friday, $32.25 million on Saturday, and projected a miniscule 11.0% dip to $28.7 million on Sunday. The studio's executive vice president and general sales manager Rick Myerson noted that part of the reason for the expected strong hold on Sunday was Canada's Victoria Day holiday on Monday, making Sunday behave like a Saturday thereŚmuch the same way Memorial Day affects the United States.More importantly, Fox had historical precedent from The Phantom Menace, which opened on the same weekend in 1999.

Menace drew in $18,467,513 on its first Friday, enjoyed a 32.2% bump-up on Saturday to $24,414,123, and then fell just 10.2% on Sunday to $21,929,334. That added up to a $64,810,970 weekend, actually beating Fox's estimate by $3 million as the studioŚindeed the entire industryŚwas stunned by that Sunday hold. So it was reasonable for the studio to assume that Clones would follow a similar pattern.

The actual breakdown for Clones turned out to be $24,404,757 on Friday, a 28.1% jump to $31,253,618 on Saturday, and then a 22.0% dip to $24,369,439 on Sunday.

It also should be noted that Spider-Man's $45,036,912 third weekend fell $1 million short of Sony's estimate, and estimates are supposed to get easier the longer a movie's out.

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