Something caught my eye yesterday morning as I read the WSJ. I was reading about the Oscars Ceremony, which I actually enjoyed despite critic reviews, and saw the 5 pictures nominated for best picture combined only grossed $184 million domestically – that is combined sales! With all the hoopla made about the Oscars, that figure shocked me. And in 2007, the combined revenue for the best picture nominees was only $216 million domestically. The biggest year revenue-wise was 2003, when the best-picture category combined reached $636 million.
Add to that nugget Benjamin Button cost $150 million to produce and says it needs to gross $300 million worldwide to break even. Current worldwide estimates have Benjamin Button’s gross sales at $242 million. With 13 nominations, the film unfortunately walked away with only 3 Oscars. Compare that to Slumdog Millionaire which only cost $15 million to produce.
What I did love about Benjamin Button is the technology story behind the movie. Image Metrics’ CG facial animation technology was used to create the aging process for Pitt’s character. Image Metrics has an exceptional technology that will take film and video game narrative in new directions. There will be more coverage on Image Metrics in the future, in the meantime check them out: www.image-metrics.com.
But compare revenue figures of films to sales of video games and interactive entertainment –they pale in comparison. Halo 3, released in September 2007, sold $170 million in the first 24 HOURS and $300 million in its first WEEK. Even these figures have been superceded by the launch of GTA4, released in April, 2008. Within the first 24 hours the game amassed sales of $310 million and for its first week reached $500 million in sales, breaking Halo 3’s record.
Now it is only fair to point out that the majority of these films didn’t hit theaters until late in 2008, for example Benjamin Button was a Christmas release. Additionally the best movies may not typically be considered the most commercially successful movies. However that still does not remotely compare to anything in the games space.
Janco Partners estimates domestic game sales reached $10.9 billion in 2008 and is expected to grow to $12.6 billion in 2009. Entertainment retailer, GameStop just announced it’s forth quarter results for 2008 of $3.5 billion, a 22% increase over the prior years’ fourth quarter. Total year-end sales for GameStop topped $8.8 billion for the year. Of course aside from GameStop and other retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart there are also online gaming such as the MMOs, Casual Gaming and international markets not even addressed in these figures.
So what does this say about the consumer spending, especially during these economic hard times? Clearly it indicates consumers are willing to spend their hard-earned discretionary income on a repeat entertainment experience.