One of these things is not like the other

Reel Blog   

The L.A. Times has an article in today’s paper speculating as to why some big budget films are failing at the box office this summer. Fine, as far as it goes. 

Not so fine: the headline, “Summer movie season cooling off”; and the basic premise of the article.

The summer movie season is more than halfway over and a vacation season that started off hot — “Star Trek,” “The Hangover,” “Up” — has now cooled considerably. Despite the fast start to the year’s ticket sales, seasonal returns are now up only 5% since May 1, compared with a year ago.

Note the cooling:

 Week          Week Gross

05/01/09    $195,511,586

05/08/09    $201,198,958

05/15/09    $194,370,510

05/22/09    $261,111,146

05/29/09    $228,989,406

06/05/09    $245,386,286

06/12/09    $210,723,390

06/19/09    $309,316,760

06/26/09    $347,733,194

07/03/09    $213,036,839


The current week should conclude with about $260 million total.

In other words, the Times article gets its facts wrong. It also gets its interpretation wrong and in the same paragraph. The fast start to 2009’s box office came largely in comparison to a weak start to 2008 with box office up 9.4%. The seemingly smaller 5% advantage for summer 09 vs. summer 08 is purely a function of comparing this year’s summer session to the second highest-grossing summer in hitory. 

It would be like comparing a straight-set 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 victory over my 79 year-old mother to a five set win over Roger Federer that went to a tie-breaker and suggesting maybe I’ve lost a step.

And for those keeping score at home, summer 2009 is also ahead of the record summer of 2007 by roughly 1%. Brrrr.