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First a dog movie is No. 1. Then a Zac Efron movie will top the box office this weekend with what my gurus tell me should be be a $40-plus million opening. This is why serious screenwriters weep. (While Peter Barsocchini laughs all the way to the bank.) Not only did High School Musical 3: Senior Year move into MovieTicket.com’s Top-20 Pre-Sale List of All-Time Tuesday night, and currently sits at No. 20. As of 12 PM ET, HSM3 accounted for 83% of tickets sold today at MovieTickets.com. Additionally, the film has made up 85% of the site’s ticket sales this week. Meanwhile at rival ticketseller Fandango.com, HSM3 is eating up 86% of all its online ticket sales. So it’ll be interesting to see how HSM2‘s huge Disney Channel ratings translates into HSM3‘s theatrical ticket sales. After all, no one can recall a TV movie (as opposed to TV series) that has been made into a theatrical motion picture sequel. One for the record books.

If HSM3 is merely lumped into the musical genre category, then it has to be compared against the under-$30M North American opening weekend grosses of Mamma Mia and Hairspray which went after predominantly younger and female audiences. But, get this: Disney thinks there could “a very tough competitive weekend ahead” because of Lionsgate’s Saw V which also has a built-in fan base that consistently opens that revolting franchise in the $30sM.

Somebody’s smokin’ something on Dopey Drive… Different genres, different audiences, no overlap. Female teens and over-18s who are the audience for musicals as well as horror flicks are increasingly demonstrating that they’re repelled by the content of hardcore gorefests which are no longer suitable for Date Night, especially if they contain torture porn.  That’s one reason why pics like Saw V are quickly becoming a thing of the past in favor of Soft R and PG-13.

Meanwhile, it’s incredible how the fabled Walt Disney PR machine, which used to be so formidable, has completely collapsed. It used to be that Disney would have at the ready all sorts of advance business info about their upcoming films, down to the smallest detail about marketing and psychographics. Now it’s like pulling teeth. I know it only seems as if Disney is making 6 pics a year when it’s really 12 to 13. But has Bob Iger slashed his publicity and marketing departments to the bone? Or is Disney’s infamous penchant for secrecy interfering with its ability to sell effectively?

  1. PR Shift: Gina Hoffman Exiting PMK/HBH For BWR With Client Zac Efron
  2. Clean Wholesome ‘HSM3’ Fun?
  3. ‘High School Musical 2’ Breaks TV Records