This weekend’s Monsters vs. Aliens could mark the beginning of Hollywood’s 3D revolution. But so far, the movie’s not doing earth-shattering box office business.
As of Thursday evening, Monsters vs. Aliens accounted for roughly 54% of advance ticket sales from online retailer Fandango. Fandango spokesman Harry Medved described the sales as “healthy” and on par with sales at the same point in its cycle for Disney’s animated film Bolt, which was released in 3D last November and went on to gross $287 million worldwide despite a relatively weak $26 million first weekend. (It opened opposite Twilight.)
But DreamWorks’ 3D tentpole isn’t selling the sort of record-breaking numbers of early tickets one might expect for such a heavily-hyped, expensive family film.
To be fair, there’s no successful product behind Monsters vs. Aliens—yet. It’s not a movie based on a popular TV show or book; it’s not a sequel, and those types of movies usually do well in terms of advance business. But with all of the effort Jeffrey Katzenberg put into promoting the film and 3D movies in general—endless press coverage, including planted editorials in five Time Inc. magazines; that 3D Super Bowl ad; cross promotions with everyone from Bank of America to McDonald’s to Hubba Bubba bubblegum—one would think the movie would have taken hold in potential theatergoers’ minds by now.
It’s not over yet. Advance ticket sales usually pick up on Fridays, and these aren’t even actual box-office receipts. In terms of weekend grosses, most experts are still predicting $50 million-$60 million for the $165 million film over the first three days. So maybe Katzenberg has gotten through to enough people to make Monsters vs. Aliens a hit—they just haven’t bought their tickets yet.
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