Will audiences heed ‘The Omen’?

Jeff Tyler Jun 5, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Ready? The numerical sequence 6 6 6 refers to:

A. June 6th, 2006.
B. A biblical allusion to the apocalypse.
C. The distribution date for the remake of the horror movie “The Omen.”

Executives at 20th Century Fox hope you picked D — all of the above. Aside from the marketing potential, releasing a movie on a Tuesday can be scary for the box office. Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler explains.

JEFF TYLER: New movies usually reach theaters on a Wednesday or a Friday. But 20th Century Fox debuts The Omen on Tuesday. And that meant Bruce Snyder, the studio’s head of domestic distribution, had to sell the public on the date as much as the movie. As in, Don’t Wait for the Weekend.

BRUCE SNYDER: So you have to first tell them, “It is available — TUESDAY — June 6th.” And then work from there.

Snyder and his team also had to sell the exhibitors — that is, each individual theater. Distributors jockey to secure the biggest, best and most lucrative screens in the country. If the weekend box office receipts for a current film are bad, it’s vulnerable to getting bumped on Monday.

But with a Tuesday debut, Snyder had to convince theater owners to make a decision about his movie last week. That meant the exhibitors had to pick which movies to dump before measuring ticket sales. To help make his case, Snyder keeps the summer vacation statistics at his fingertips.

SNYDER: June. Here we go. June 6th. Forty-four percent of kindergarten through 12th graders out. Seventy-five percent of the colleges are out. So we do have an audience available.

Others agree that Tuesday is not the kiss of death.

BRIAN FUSON: A Tuesday in the summer is not a bad time to release a film.

Brian Fuson is box-office analyst for the Hollywood Reporter.

FUSON: So this gives Fox Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — three days of unencumbered box office — before Cars hits theaters on Friday.

Fuson mentioned “Cars.” That’s the new flick from Pixar, the wildly successful team behind “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.” They’re a rival to strike terror in the hearts of movie distributors everywhere.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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