So, Which Side Is Up? The Side That Has All the Bucks (That Ain't Us, By the Way...)

Hey, “Studio Estimates!” How did you do since Sunday when you prematurely announced, as you do every single week for eons, the box office take for the weekend before a good portion of the country had even prepared to go to the movies that day?

You initially reported that the #1 film, The Forbidden Kingdom with the Chan/Li tandem, had earned 20.9 million dollars. In the final tallies released following the actual weekend, it was reported Kingdom had earned $21.4 million. Well, there’s a half million dollars difference. Where did that come from? If the theatres had already finished their business properly, from which magical realm did all this cash spring? Forgetting Sarah Marshall, reported as having earned $17.3 million by the Reuters story which so incensed me on Sunday, pulled a similar trick to Kingdom’s and tacked on 400 large to its total by the time of the final tallies.

But then there is that completely unnecessary, and for my purposes, troublesome little remake of Prom Night. The Reuters’ piece said that the “teen horror Prom Night slipped to No. 3 with $9.1 million, taking its 10-day haul to $32.6 million.” But when the final total was announced, it’s line read this: “Prom Night, Sony, $8,670,364, 2 Wks. ($32,133,926).” Hmm… somehow, it was slashed of a half million since the story broke. Likewise, Ben Stein’s anti-intelligence, pro-intelligent design screed Expelled lost 300 grand. (Mr. Stein also would have lost his marbles, but those have apparently been missing for a good while.) Were the dollars added to the wrong films? Or was this all just shoddy guesswork?

Of course, it is. That’s why the initial story said “studio estimates.”

My problem, I will reiterate, is that these “studio estimates” are released as the gospel truth, and hours and hours -- and sometimes a full fucking day -- before the true figures are even ready to be stated. Because the headlines tout the news within the story as being finalized figures, one is not supposed to notice the term “studio estimates” within the text. The common person, jumping on the internet 
fleetingly before heading out for a nice Sunday morning (which might possibly include seeing one of the movies involved in the studio estimates) sees the link on their email page or on their phone claiming which movie made the most cash money for the weekend, and since the bulk of people seeing the link won’t click on it, they take only the info in the title out and about with them for the day. “Did you hear that The Forbidden Kingdom is the #1 movie?” And, yes, it happened to be at that moment in time, but the point I am trying to make is that it hadn’t yet earned the money it was being touted as making. But the story is meant to convince you it has.

And I hadn’t even gone yet that day. And perhaps some of you hadn’t either. Maybe we saw the film in another dimension where we only paid with Monopoly money, so it didn't count.


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