Why Opening Weekend Matters to Films

A friend and fellow film fanatic recently shared with me some statistics about why opening weekend is so critical to films.  I confess, I had never been sure why the immense focus on opening weekend box numbers…or why, when a Christian film came out, everyone was so adamant that we go see it on opening weekend.  Who cares if I wait a week to see it?  After hearing some of Whitnee’s information, I began to realize what a difference it really does make.   

It’s not that I think we should make the investment to see every movie opening weekend, but when a film comes out that we, as Christians, want to encourage and support–seeing it on opening weekend, or as close to that as you can, makes a monumental difference. 

The following is the outline for Whitnee’s persuasive speech.  Take a minute and read it, she is very persuasive!

Whitnee Sherman, 2 December 2010

Persuasive Speech: Watch quality movies on their opening weekend

Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that they should support quality movies by seeing them their opening weekend in theaters.

Central Idea: The movies made by studios are affected by how well each movie does on opening weekend due to the target audience, therefore people should support quality movies on the weekend they open.


I.  Hook: Many of you know about my obsession with The Chronicles of Narnia. Because of this, I have been following the production of the new movie for about two years.

II.  That piqued my curiosity about how much affect we, as movie goers have on what movies studios produce.

III.  The movies made by studios are affected by how well each movie does on opening weekend due to the target audience, therefore people should support quality movies on the weekend they open.

Main Points:

I. The movies studios make are directly affected by what movies do well on opening weekend.

  1.  According to Rick Lyman, in an article he wrote for The New York Times in 2001,  there is a 90-10 split between the studio and the theater on opening weekend. This split gradually goes down throughout the run of the movie.
  2.  In an article by Neilsen Edi that appeared in The Globe and Mail in 2007,  a review was taken of the highest grossing movies of the summer. Each of the movies, dropped in income by 60% in their second weekends.

II.  This focus on the first weekend is largely due to the target audience and advertisement for the movies.

  1.  Robert W. Butler, in a 2001 article in The Kansas City Star, says that the core movie audience is made up of teenagers and young adults.
  2.  Such moviegoers are used to a fast paced- “get what you want now” world.
  3.  Because of this, movies push and push for good advertising and good trailers to fill the seats on opening weekends. As Butler says in the same article, “quality isn’t nearly as important as sellability.”
  4.  As Chris Hewitt says in an article that appeared in St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2007, “The rule of thumb in Hollywood is that if a movie does well on opening weekend, that means it was marketed effectively.”

III.  For this reason, it is important to support films that, though made with a smaller budget, are quality films that promote good morals.

  1.  In a 2005 article by film director Saul Metzstein appearing in Building Design, he puts it simple, “When it comes to commercial filmmaking, success and failure… …are only truthfully judged in financial terms.”
  2.  So, to keep studios making quality movies, with good morals, we need to do our part in supporting such movies on their opening weekends, and spreading the word for others to see them. Such tactics worked very well for the morally sound movie, The Blind Side, as noted in a review by staff reporters in a 2009 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer. In fact, the movie ended up beating New Moon in the box office.
  3.  There are many websites that review movies for moral content before they are released nationally.
  4.  According to David M. Halbginger, in an article that appeared in The New York Times in 2007, reviews are mostly coming from personal blogs on the internet. These are written by people just like the moviegoing public.


I.  We need to look at these reviews and determine what movies should be supported ahead of time so we can see them opening weekend. Because as stated in a 1998 copy of The Toronto Star, movies are the “religious substitute to a secular world.” Movies with moral messages need to be supported on the opening weekends.

II.  As you can see, the movies made by studios are affected by how well each movie does on opening weekend due to the target audience, therefore we should support quality movies on the weekend they open.

Works Cited

Butler, Robert W. “Make the Money and Run; Hollywood Is Grading Itself Now by the Big        Opening Weekend – and Nothing Else.” The Kansas City Star 16 Aug. 2001, FYI sec.:             E1. Print.

Edi, Neilson. “Summer of the Sequel – A Status Update.” The Globe and Mail [Canada] 15 June 2007, The Globe Review 7 sec.: R6. Print.

Halbfinger, David M. “Appearing Way Before The Film: The Review.” The New York Times. 4  July 2007, The Arts/Cultural Desk, sec. E1. Print.

Hewitt, Chris. “Here’s How to Tell What Movies Gross – and Which Ones Are Grossly      Overrated.” St. Pioneer Press [Minnesota] 23 May 2007, Movies sec. Print.

Inquirer Staff. “Sideshow: ‘Blind Side’ Scores a Win.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 7 Dec. 2009,      Features Magazine sec.: D08.

Lyman, Rick. “Even Blockbusters Find Fame Fleeting In a Multiplex Age.” The New York Times             13 Aug. 2001, Late Edition ed., sec. A. Print.

Metzstein, Saul. “Beware Hollywood’s Measure of Success.” Building Design 25 Feb. 2005: 11.   Print.

“Ultimate Sacrifices May Lead to Paradise.” The Toronto Star 22 Aug. 1998, 1st ed. Print.