Box Office Site Offers Hints About Ourselves

By: Charles Bowen

Movie box office receipts tell us a little about the economy, the entertainment industry and popular culture, all in one. Like all indicators, box office gross also gives us tantalizing hints about ourselves.

What does it mean, for instance, when the top grossing films of all time are Titanic, Star Wars and E.T., in that order? In these troubled post-9/11 days, have we taken refuge in fantasy? Hard to say for sure, of course. However, couldn’t a columnist raise some interesting premises based on the fact that the leading films so far for this year have been Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Carribean?

In a data-packed site called Box Office Report, Webmaster Daniel Garris covers the Big Screen’s big numbers with the dedication of a Wall Street analyst, with current figures and projections of what’s likely to top the charts next month. To take a look, visit boxofficereport.com, where the opening screen provides the latest data, topped with the weekend’s top-grossing film. Options along the top of each screen provide links to these major departments of statistics and projections:

* Weekly: This sections includes links to Box Office Forecast (Garris’ forecast of the weekend’s top 10 films), Final Domestic Projections (his projections based on current figures), Box Office Profiles (week-by-week box office information on the top performers at the domestic box office over the past few years), Weekend Update (with a jump on the weekend with estimates based on Friday’s Top 10 films), Weekend Studio Estimates (the weekend’s top 10 films according to estimates issued by the studios) and Weekend Top 20 (the weekend’s top 20 films according to final figures).

* Yearly: The next screen links to tracking of the top films of 1999 through 2003, as well as information about Top Opening Weekends, Yearly Archive and a Revenue Database with yearly listings of historical domestic revenue figures.

* All-Time: This busy section has links to films that have grossed at least $90 million at the domestic box office, those that grossed $200 million or more at the worldwide box office and those earning at least $200 million domestically after accounting for ticket price inflation. Also here are top grossing franchises, highest production costs, largest opening weekends, largest adjusted opening weekends, largest second weekends and largest single day grosses. Looking for the quickest films to hit $100 million? Daniel’s got ’em, as well as a historical month-by-month index and a listing of the top grossing films by individual distributor.

* Releases: Come here for the Most-Anticipated Rankings (a weekly ranking of anticipation for upcoming releases as voted by the site’s users) and Box Office Previews for some of the biggest upcoming releases. This section also has theatrical release dates and rental release dates.

* Media: This is a miscellaneous section of the site. Here you’ll find discussion forums, an actors and directors corner for industry profiles and Oscar Buzz for Garris’ ranking of the various Oscar contenders. Also here are commentaries by the site’s operators, as well as movie trailers and hyperlinks to other movie sites.

Other considerations for using Box Office Report in your writing and editing:

1. The site also has previews of upcoming films. Click on the “Previews” link on the introductory page. From the resulting screen choose a month and the site then displays links to major coming releases. For each is a link to its Web address, a description, lists of the distributor, director and writers, principal cast and the premise of the film. Of most interest, perhaps, is the site’s list of box office performance by related films in recent years.

2. If you’re interested in the average earnings of specific people in the film industry, see the introductory page’s links to “Actors” and to “Directors.”

3. For more information on the business side of the film industry, click on the site’s “Links” link on the industry for its collection of relevant related sites around the Web.

You can read the last 20 “Reporter’s Digital How-to” columns on our index page.

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