This is exactly the sort of movie to benefit during the pre-Christmas rush because of the obvious fanboy interest, helped by the fact that every young male is out of school and can indulge his cultural need to see films like this first. So Hollywood and even Disney had been expecting a weekend of at least $50M. “Depends how good it is,” one rival studio exec snarked.
It may underperform; remember that Friday’s number opened to $3.6M from midnight screenings, including over $1 million from 228 IMAX theaters. (I’m told that’s by far the biggest percentage — 25+% — done of any movie’s midnight box office, and more than the percentage of midnight take by IMAX for Iron Man 2, Inception, Avatar. But note that’s not the highest IMAX gross.) With a budget estimated as $150M, and a global marketing push estimated at another $120M, Tron: Legacy 3D benefitted from a ton of pre-sales. For instance, going into this weekend, Tron 2 accounted for 67% of Thursday’s sales on big online seller MovieTickets.com.
Globally, Tron 2 is opening in 26 international markets (Australia, Brazil, Japan, Scandinavia, Spain, UK, etc.) representing about 50% of the marketplace. Disney arranged for “Tron Night” at 520 theaters in 40 countries, with premiere events in Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and Berlin (in January 2011). Not only did Tron 2 open the Tokyo International Film Festival, but key buildings in Osaka, Nagoya, and Yokohama were covered in blue Tron lights, while in Toronto the CN Tower was similarly lit up.
Disney’s consumer products division came onboard. The studio even used its newly purchased Marvel to push the pic: a 2-issue comic book limited series, “Tron: Betrayal” grqaphic novel was sold under the Tron name. Meanwhile, the film’s soundtrack from Walt Disney Records produced by the Grammy Award-winning French duo Daft Punk hit #1 on Amazon, became iTunes single of the week, and debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200 — the first score soundtrack to debut in the Top 10 in five years.