According to Sony’s figures — which agree with most of the others I’ve seen reported — BIG FISH came in at number one for the weekend, earning about $14.5 million, compared to RETURN OF THE KING’s $14.1 million.
Since it’s only now Sunday, how can studios say how much they earned for the weekend? Well, all the numbers you hear discussed are actually just estimates. Based on how well Big Fish did on Friday and Saturday, Sony makes an educated guess about how it will do today. New Line does the same for Return of the King, and so on down the list. Are these estimates accurate? Not necessarily, and there’s often grumbling that studios deliberately over-estimate in order to “win” the weekend. In the case of Big Fish and Return of the King, the movies are certainly very close, so a more conservative analyst might wait until the real box office figures come in Monday.
For today, I’ll just say we did very well — better than expected. I think the obsession with opening weekend box office figures is ultimately damaging to the film industry. All the same, for such a difficult, hard-to-peg movie, it’s nice to be #1, if only for a week.