Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day box office bonanza

Boxing Day is better known as December 26th in the United States.

In other parts of the world -- namely Australia -- it's more like Christmas + The Fourth of July + the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

Yeah, there's a lot of shopping that goes on on December 26th in Australia, but it's also summer vacation, and pretty much everyone is out of work doing some kind of activity or other. It's a huge day for any number of events to be occurring, namely the famous yacht race from Syndey to Hobart. But there's also a very important cricket match today, and there are plenty of other modest-sized local events you might attend. We've been to the market here in Hobart (Tasmania), one of the best farmer's markets/crafts fairs I've ever attended (as my looted wallet will attest), and plan to go to a BBQ later on.

It's also a day when no less than a dozen major movies are released. Yes, this one day.

I've included the poster for Did You Hear About the Morgans? somewhat randomly, because I could have chosen numerous others. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. The Lovely Bones. Sherlock Holmes. And about ten others whose billboards I saw when we were walking the streets of Sydney earlier this week. Yes, I realize it would be more impressive in making my point if I could actually remember some of the other titles.

The thing that strikes me about this confluence of release dates of major films on a single day is that it demonstrates the opposite conventional wisdom that we see in America. In America, no matter how much confidence you have in your film, you don't want it to open against another strong film because its opening weekend box office will inevitably be siphoned. And it's all about opening weekend box office if you want your film to have legs and become a hit.

Not so in Australia, and probably, not so in most of the world. That's because the U.S. opening weekend does the heavy lifting. My guess is that it also aligns with a foreign mentality of not needing to see the film right when it opens. We didn't see Avatar the first day I arrived -- Sunday -- because it was sold out. But we didn't have too much trouble seeing it on Tuesday, even though "the world's biggest IMAX screen" (or so this proclaimed) wasn't even being saved exclusively for James Cameron's film -- it was also hosting screening of such films as A Christmas Carol and two other IMAX-only films, Under the Sea and something about Islam. We didn't walk right up and buy tickets or anything, but the fact that my wife got them online only two days earlier -- when many people were on vacation for the holidays already, and therefore might have more time in their schedule despite the added shopping -- was telling. It was a 6:15 showing as well.

Trying to write this post somewhat quickly, so I may not finish up with my usual cohesiveness (or so I like to think of it as that). And I'm still annoyed that in my post-nap state I can't remember the 37 other movies that were opening today. (It's December 26th where I sit, regardless of what the North American-centric date on may tell you.) 

But at least now you have a little snapshot of how the movies work here Down Under. Next post, if I have time: the titles we've watched here that you can't get in the U.S., and whether they "count" just like the movies you can. 

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