‘Watchmen’ Recruits Many at Midnight

by Brandon Gray

March 6, 2009

In its midnight opening, Watchmen burst onto the scene with an estimated $4.55 million at 1,595 theaters. That compares favorably to 300, the movie Watchmen's marketing campaign cites, which racked up $2.5 million at 656 venues in its midnight opening two years ago. Watchmen's take, though, was less than a quarter of all-time champion The Dark Knight, which earned around $18.5 million at 3,040 sites in its midnight opening.

Watchmen is the largest release of the year thus far, striking approximately 7,500 screens at 3,611 theaters (including 124 IMAX venues) this weekend, or about as saturated as the first Spider-Man. Its theater count of 3,611 is the highest ever for an R-rated movie opening, topping The Matrix Reloaded's 3,603. However, Matrix Reloaded had more screens, coming in at over 8,500. Figures have yet become available for Reloaded's 2003 midnight grosses, but its first shows started at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday, logging around $5 million at 2,750 sites. The following full day, it hit $37.5 million and went on break the R-rated opening weekend record ($91.8 million).

Setting the benchmark for March, 300 registered $28.1 million in its full opening day on course to a $70.9 million opening weekend. Among recent big movies, Quantum of Solace had a similar midnight opening as 300 and went on to gross $67.5 million for its opening weekend, while Twilight claimed $7 million in midnight shows on its way to a $69.6 million weekend.

Midnight showings don't make for proper apples-to-apples comparisons, given the range of theater counts and promotions as well as the incomplete box office record for that statistic. Pictures with ardent, built-in fan bases from Twilight to Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, though, tend to have higher midnight grosses in relation to their full opening days than others.

Related Stories
• 3/7/09 - 'Watchmen' Busts Out on Opening Day
• 11/21/08 - 'Twilight' Tingles at Midnight
• 7/23/08 - 'Dark Knight' Begins Smashingly
• 3/12/07 - Hordes Drive '300' to Record
• 3/20/06 - 'V for Vendetta' Bombards Top Spot
• 5/19/05 - 'Revenge of the Sith' Draws Over $16M at Midnight
• 5/16/03 - 'Matrix' Loads Massive Opening Day

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