Will Grand Theft Auto 4 Hurt Iron Man's Box Office?

Will Grand Theft Auto 4 Hurt Iron Man's Box Office? This is a question I've been thinking about for a while now. When I wrote the post Rant: Sorry Mario, Video Games Will NEVER Overtake Movies last month, I intended to include a section on how a video game release could never negatively effect the release of a theatrical movie. But to be honest with you: I did the math, and the math scared me. Here is my initial thought process:

Grand Theft Auto 4 is projected to make $350-$400+ million in it's first week of release.

This means that 5 to 6 million copies of the game will be sold.

Polls have shown that the same audience/demographic for video games is also the same for seeing movies in the theater.

If each of those 6 million people chose to play GTA over seeing Iron Man on the big screen, that would be a $41 million hit to Paramount's opening weekend (I came to this number using BOM's average movie ticket price of $6.82, which might even be lower than reality)

At first glance, this doesn't sound good.

BUT the question is: How many GTA4 gamers will choose not to buy a ticket to Iron Man either due to either available time (too busy playing the game) or available money (spent their entire entertainment allowance on the game)?

The more and more I really thought about this question, and the more and more people I was able to talk to about the issue has me solidified my belief that...

a video game purchase is not enough to keep the kids out of the movie theater.

If a movie ticket cost more than $7-$10 (let's say $60) then maybe consumers would be forced to choose. But right now the price of a movie ticket is not enough to warrant a money spending decision. And most of the target audience (under 30-year old men) understand the concept of the on demand society, and are completely willing to save their game, go to a movie, and come back to play another day. After all, we all need a break (with exception of those nuts playing WOW who pee in cups because they can't leave the computer for one minute to go to the bathroom).

But now industry analysts are predicting upwards of $100+M for Iron Man's opening, and if the numbers don't reach that high the mainstream media might connect the dots that might not even exist (because that's what mainstream media sometimes does).

What do you think? Please tell me what you think in the comments below.

I have included a few more factoids that I came across during my research:

Last summer, "Pirates of the Caribbean 3" broke all box office records, with a $404 million worldwide haul in its first six days. [variety]

Hollywood is using the game launch to start putting videogames in the store's lucrative "new releases" section. That's space that won't be available for DVDs. [variety]

The First Weekend of Summer became the first weekend of May in 1998 with Deep Impact, the first movie to open in that slot to gross over $100 million in history. Of the nine films in the slot since then, only 3 have made less than D.I.'s $140 million domestic â€" Mission:Impossible III, Van Helsing, and the lowest grosser of them all, Kingdom of Heaven. All three have been seen as flops, fairly or not (not the point of this piece). So, $140 million is The Success Bottom for that slot. [mcn]

Steve Mason revised his Iron Man estimate to $100M in the period starting Thursday (5/1) at 8pm and ending Sunday night (5/4). According to Mason, Paramount's company line seems to be that "anything that starts with a 7 would be great." If Iron Man's own studio is talking about $70M, it's safe to call for something bigger, and $100M seems like a good bet. Also, given the advantage that Spider-Man 3 received for being the first blockbuster of the summer, I think the Robert Downey Jr. Marvel superhero epic could finish its domestic run with $275M.

If Iron Man takes in $100 million, and GTA4 takes in $400 million, this could be the biggest week in entertainment history.