UPDATE: So now Fandango says Watchmen‘s scooping up 90% of its advance ticket sales. That’s still better than 300 but, as far as we know, it doesn’t yet make the film one of Fandango’s top 10 advance sellers.
EARLIER: Watchmen advance ticket sales may be strong–even accounting for 61% of all the action on Fandango–but it hasn’t cracked the site’s all-time Top 10, a megahit roster it’ll have to join to merely turn a profit.
Both Fandango and MovieTickets.com say the movie is far outpacing early sales for Zack Snyder’s last film, 300, at the same point in the cycle. The drama and dollars necessary to get Watchmen to the actual screens, however, mean that it’ll have to be more like top 10 advance sellers The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
It may be unfair to compare Watchmen with these massively hyped, highly anticipated summer blockbusters, all of which were sequels. But given all of the studios involved in (and sharing box-office revenues from) Watchmen, the film is going to need to make some serious coin at the cineplex for Warner Bros. and its co-financier Legendary Pictures to recoup its production and marketing expenses, let alone make a profit. In fact, Watchmen needs to make the kind of money generated by movies with better advance-ticket sales.
Watchmen‘s budget is estimated to be $100 million-$125 million. The quick way to estimate the point at which a movie will break even, if you don’t know its marketing budget or how much money various back-end deals will take away from the studio, is usually just to double its production budget. And Hit Fix film editor Drew McWeeny told Rope of Silicon’s Brad Brevet that a movie has to make two and a half times its production budget in order to be considered financially successful. Erring on the conservative side of Watchmen‘s production budget, that means it has to make $200 million to $250 million domestically for Warner Bros. and Legendary to make a profit. Considering that Fox may get 8.5% of box-office revenues, this number may be higher. (Paramount’s handling the overseas distribution, so Warner Bros. doesn’t get any of the foreign box-office revenues.)
Only 48 movies have made more than $250 million at the domestic box office, many of which are comic book films or appeal to the same fanboy audience, like all 3 Spider-Man movies, all 6 Star Wars movies, 4 of 6 Batman films and Iron Man. 300, meanwhile, only pulled in $211 million in the U.S.
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