Halo 3 Responsible for Recent Box Office Drought?

Whenever a big movie fails to deliver at the box office, the bean counters are always scrambling to try and find an explanation for why it failed. It’s kind of a futile task in a way, because there are just so many factors involved in creating a blockbuster, not to mention a little bit of randomness and a lot of luck. But the people who make movies refuse to look at it that way because, well… their jobs depend on being able to track and predict these complex beasts. So this is why we now have a story blaming the recent drop in box office numbers on the Xbox 360 game Halo 3!

According to an article over at Advertising Age, the Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid was expected to have a $20 to $25 million opening, but when it managed just $14 million in ticket sales, people started pointing fingers directly at the Master Chief. Halo 3 was released on September 26th and made over $170 million in sales on that first day alone. There’s no doubt that it’s a huge draw for the movie’s target demographic, but should it really take the blame for a 27% total box office decrease from the October 5th weekend of last year? Or could it also be because in theatres at the same time last year we had such movies as The Departed, Jackass: Number Two and — wait for it — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (gasp… an actual horror movie in October)? I don’t completely buy the Halo 3 excuse, however, I do agree that video games are competing for the same entertainment dollar nowadays. Studios already have to co-ordinate their own releases around big titles from the competition, so does this mean they’ll have to start planning around big video game releases as well? Hmm… but then they wouldn’t have anymore excuses when their movies tank, would they?

  • Julien

    I’m not buying this Halo 3 excuse neither. I agree with you on the part of the movie selection quality that was way better last year. Even though the video game industry just keeps on growing and biting into the Average Joe’s “entertainment dollar”, I don’t think it affects the movie goers per se much more than the video gamers. Not everyone crave for movies AND video games.
    But in the end, I don’t know, you guys (Sean & Jay) are probably more in position of answering the question.
    As far as scheduling around big video game releases, I think it’s completely making fun of the movie goers. Why not go around the MLB Series or the World Cup…?

  • I admit that last Sunday I was going to go see a movie (NOT The Heartbreak Kid) but instead I stayed home to play my newly acquired USED copy of Halo 3, how sick is that?

    Yeah, I don’t really buy this excuse either, I think The Heartbreak Kid suffered from poor marketing. At a glance, all I really knew about it was that Ben Stiller was the lead, and that’s surely not enough reason for me to go see it.

  • zak

    halo is the reason i didn’t leave the house this weekend, and there’s a cheap theater half a block down from my house.

  • Ian

    This makes sense. A friend of the guy I do a podcast with was going to come with us to see Eastern Promises but he flaked out because he was playing Halo 3. And I’ve had other instances of people being late.