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How much do release dates matter?

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I have seen this discussion before but never a thread devoted to it.  Basically, how important do you see release dates in the success or failure of movie at the Box Office.  This is obviously a loaded question, as every date has some bombs and hits, though some more than others.  There’s also a potential self-fulfilling prophecy for studios with a release date, “Historically, this date has been bad/good so let’s release our dump movie/blockbuster here,” and then the date is further validated as a dump spot/prime spot.

 

I’ll start the thread off by giving a few release spots I think are overrated by studios and spots that seem underrated.

 

Overrated

 

Memorial Day Weekend - While this probably didn’t use to be overrated, I think it’s getting more to the point that the week before is a much more prime spot.  The last time Memorial Day really had a spark to it was 2013.  Even then, you could argue a Hangover 3 or FF6 would have done better elsewhere.  

 

4th of July Week - Similar to Memorial Day, this seems like a better spot to let a holdover leg it out than to launch a movie.  Again, pretty much since 2013, movies have had a difficult time getting off the ground here.

 

1st/2nd Weekend of November

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this spot, but studios seem to really gravitate towards it.  Yet it puts the movie a little further away from the holidays and makes it harder for the film to really take any major advantage of them.  I think this seems more like a date where studios put movies that’d be hits anyways, because the date has had major hits in the past.

 

Underrated Dates

 

Martin Luther King Day - Studios take some advantage of it, but I think the date could host much bigger movies than it has.  The main problem is it’s so close to Christmas that studios would rather overcrowd that date and ride the massive holiday legs.  However, I think overshadowed Christmas hits like Pitch Perfect 3 could have performed much better separated from the competition here.

 

Labor Day/1st Weekend of September - Studios avoid this area like the plague.  However both IT and The Nun have shown there’s plenty of demand for movies at the beginning of school.  It’s definitely an underutilized timeframe imo.

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RE: Frontloading/'Legs' @Premium George

 

December is a whole 'nother world unto itself.

 

Usual caveats apply: total box office has an effect, brand recognition has an effect, being released midweek instead of on the weekend has an effect, schools being out has an effect, etc.

 

Release
Month
Average
Multiplier
Median
Multiplier
Release
Month
Average
Multiplier
Median
Multiplier
January 2.88 2.66 July 3.30 3.22
February 2.81 2.73 August 3.22 3.00
March 3.02 2.89 September 2.87 2.75
April 2.76 2.65 October 3.02 2.75
May 2.95 2.82 November 3.43 3.23
June 3.13 3.01 December 5.45 4.76
all (1025 movies) 3.21 2.93
excludes 2018 releases
highest month in blue; lowest month in red
numbers from top openings (2008-2017) as of August 16, 2018

 

InyXYqB.png

q8rBbMD.png

 

 

 

Edited by MagnarTheGreat
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Release dates honestly are a little bit of both today. Tentpoles are being placed in former dead spots.

 

January has became a big spot for films like The Revenant, Lone Survivor,Ride Along, American Sniper, Split, and Hidden Figures  to recently enjoy healthy runs! 

 

February has became stronger as superheroes found a stronger way. However back in 2003 and 2007, Daredevil and Ghost Rider did respectable numbers with over $100 million a piece. Deadpool and the overrated Black Panther changed the game for the Love month. 

Also, Kingsman 1, Legoes, Get Out, 50 Shades, and SpongeBob also helped out the month as well grow! 

 

Remember when March only had a few big blockbusters? March has became a bigger blockbuster than May! March I can list a bunch but hot damn.

 

April has became the big Mecca for the last weekend of the April to be now the first summer movie! Fast Five started that trend back in 2011. However, IW exploded this past April! And there’s potential for breakouts such as A Quiet  Place or minor sleepers like 42, Heaven Is For Real, or Think Like A Man. 

 

May is of course big! Blockbusters here have became hit or miss since 2008. May is like that well I’m gonna use my raunchy example... but studios like to experiment and 80% of the time fails.

 

June well its became a more kiddie,comedy,and horror month! Studios are smart with this month. Nothing else to add.

 

July it’s made for kids, Tom Cruise comebacks, The Warrens, Purgers, and Superhero Underdogs. End of story.

 

August is a surprise hit month. With films no one expect to do well.

 

September is horror and wom hits.

 

October is for the adults.

 

November and December are back to kids.

 

this is a judge on the monthly release schedule and the slight outcomes. 

 

Honestly, release dates don’t matter more looking at it. Its the marketing and final product that count. 

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4 minutes ago, JGAR4LIFE said:

I wonder how well Aladdin will do on Memorial Day weekend in 2019. I imagine Disney wants to top their opening record there from POTC 3.

 

Doesnt really matter, since it will drop at least 60% the following weekend due to the arrival of a 200M+ opener :Venom:

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I think the last weekend of July and first weekend of August is really good for a major blockbuster.

 

Generally, find that films can really leg out a solid run during that time.

 

 

 

You may see the last weekend of April become the start date for summer movies now as IW did really well there.

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5 hours ago, MagnarTheGreat said:

RE: Frontloading/'Legs' @Premium George

 

December is a whole 'nother world unto itself.

 

Usual caveats apply: total box office has an effect, brand recognition has an effect, being released midweek instead of on the weekend has an effect, schools being out has an effect, etc.

 

Release
Month
Average
Multiplier
Median
Multiplier
Release
Month
Average
Multiplier
Median
Multiplier
January 2.88 2.66 July 3.30 3.22
February 2.81 2.73 August 3.22 3.00
March 3.02 2.89 September 2.87 2.75
April 2.76 2.65 October 3.02 2.75
May 2.95 2.82 November 3.43 3.23
June 3.13 3.01 December 5.45 4.76
all (1025 movies) 3.21 2.93
excludes 2018 releases
highest month in blue; lowest month in red
numbers from top openings (2008-2017) as of August 16, 2018

 

InyXYqB.png

q8rBbMD.png

 

 

 

While certainly is great for legs, also consider that typical “dump months” like Jan or April may historically have worse legs, not because of the month themselves, but because bad movies that would typically have bad legs usually get dumped there.  It’d be another self-fulfilling prophecy in a way.

 

You can definitely see how November and December are good for legs because even bombs manage good multis.

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18 minutes ago, PANDA said:

While certainly is great for legs, also consider that typical “dump months” like Jan or April may historically have worse legs, not because of the month themselves, but because bad movies that would typically have bad legs usually get dumped there.  It’d be another self-fulfilling prophecy in a way.

 

You can definitely see how November and December are good for legs because even bombs manage good multis.

July and august are also good for bombs' legs. Not as much as winter but better than rest of the year. Holidays definitely help with overall gross.

Leaving that dates don't have much impact. Release schedule, competition, quality and type of movie are much more important.

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It's not just the date itself...most times, it's the competition surrounding the date...how "close" did you release to another movie that would have sated your audience's desire for your movie...how many movies on your date are drawing from your same main audience...how many screens can you get (and keep) based on the already-existing competition and the competition to come?  

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I'm generally of the mind that a movie will find the audience it warrants no matter where it's released. I think competition only matters in the sense of determining what certain dates the audience decides to see the movie during its run. If there are a lot of appealing options out there, more people will see more movies.. There's always going to be competition; it's the filmmakers' responsibility to make a movie that stands out among it.  

 

Because the "dead zone" has that stigma attached to it, I do think it's a self fulfilling prophecy. If you have a big blockbuster it looks bad to the press if you schedule it Labor Day weekend, and you'd rather just avoid the questioning altogether. But I believe a well-reviewed film could be a success there if given the chance. Heck, the movie IT wasn't that far off and cracked $300 million.

Edited by tribefan695
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Because of the self fulfilling prophecy, because we have usually knowledge of good release date of 1 or 2 market and never had anything that look like randomize test this is quite the speculation for anyone to say.

 

For some title: Big holidays (in China notably), summer days, award season, do seem to matter and a reason studio fight for them, despite a much bigger competition movies achieve to do well in them and competition is quite the factor. Obviously horror around halloween, christmas movie during the Christmas season.

 

2 hours ago, tribefan695 said:

I'm generally of the mind that a movie will find the audience it warrants no matter where it's released.

 

Not sure I fully agree, like you said in the next sentence competition can be a major factor, did Monument Men worthy of a 154m run ? Or achieve it because there was almost nothing else in big budget star driven for adults in February ? And would not have work has well if it went when Saving Mr. Banks, Walter Mitty, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, etc... were all playing at the same time.

 

The importance could be going down.

 

Less and less people are really connected to seasons, school kids are a smaller and small percentage of the movie audience, retired people for who.... are a bigger and bigger part of the audience.

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Release dates no longer have as large an impact on an OW.  The post Thanksgiving weekend remains a desolate wasteland. 

 

Generally speaking, release dates matter for Legs. The Christmas season remains king when it comes to lengthy runs. Hard to secure multipliers during the summer months.  In that sense the release date does matter. 

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