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The “New Moon” Craze.

November 21st, 2009 2 comments

Although I’d rather not bring it up at all, I think it’s particularly relevant to our discussion: I saw “New Moon” last night.  I haven’t seen “Twilight” and I have no interest in the genre at all, but my girlfriend enjoys it so I treated her to opening night.  It was my first opening night viewing since “Team America: World Police”, but this time, the theater was much more packed.  The audience was mostly teenage girls, but every so often I could spot a parent or a boyfriend who, like me, probably didn’t care about human-vampire romances.  I bought our tickets for the 10:46 show because every show between 4:15 and 10:45 was sold out, which was about seven shows.  I had never seen so many sold out and it made me curious as to how well the movie did elsewhere.

Once the movie ended and I made it back home sanity intact, I took a peek at some statistics.  A Huffington Post article reported the following:

According to online ticket seller MovieTickets.com, “New Moon” is the No. 1 Advance Ticket Seller of all time, surpassing “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” which previously held the title.

News organizations nationwide reported their local theatres selling out, with many camped out for hours to stake out their spot for the heavily-hyped midnight premiere. Before even hitting the screen, it was reported Thursday that more than 2,000 theatres sold out.

2,000 theaters being sold out by solely advanced ticket sales.  That’s simply amazing.  Also surprisingly, the opening day madness broke  the record previously held by the latest Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”  This was reported by the NY Daily News in their own midnight showing article, ‘New Moon’ Opening Night Sales: Box Office Breaks Record for Midnight Screenings. Some more facts from them:

  • “New Moon” raked in approximately $26.27 million in 3,514
  • “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” earned $22.2 million
  • “The Dark Knight” comes in third, having drawn in $18.5 million

Variety.com claims that “New Moon” made $72.7 million on its opening day, Friday, beating out “The Dark Knight”, which had $67.2 million.  This is amazing. “New Moon” more than doubled the opening day revenue of its predecessor, “Twilight,” which had about $36 million just a year ago.

So why in the world did “New Moon” do so well?  It all has to do with how “Twilight” dug out a new genre and created for itself a entire world of merchandising possibilities.  The incompleteness of the movie allows for fans to construct their own interpretations, carry the movie’s ideas along new paths, and gives the creators of the movie room to expand and build upon their work.  Chuck Tryon in “Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence,” explains the incompleteness of “The Matrix” which inspired the creation of a huge franchise involving, “video games, comics books, and online communities and alternative reality games” (29).  The popularity of “Twilight” was propelled by fan blogs, entertainment blogs, and, unlike “The Matrix” which appealed more to online-gaming (The Matrix Online), spawned series after series of published novels.  Visit the Barnes and Noble in Deptford, NJ, and swing by the Teen section (which is next to Writing References, oddly), and you’ll see several bookshelves paying homage to “Twilight”‘s ideas.

The Great Yogurt in “Spaceballs” had said, “Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made!”  Today, we accept this truth without thinking about it too much.  Much of the merchandise falls into the standard categories, such as t-shirts, book covers, and posters, but as the fan base grows, a certain percentage tends to become more devoted, which always results in stranger merchadise.  This is not specific to the “Twilight” series, though.  We can see the same thing with any film culture, such as “Star Wars“.

The year between “Twilight” and “New Moon” allowed the fan base to increase  almost exponentially.  Tryon, in his blog,  gives the credit for this rapid expansion to speed of publication, but is unable to determine whether it’s good or bad:

I’m not ready to argue that this process – in which gossip and entertainment bloggers rush to satisfy the voracious interest in Twilight films – is harmful…

But I think it does speak to one of the ways in which the “industry” of blogging – the modes of producing a profit – begin to shape how a film gets covered and even risks drawing attention from lesser known films.

He concludes that thought by saying that online social media tools are an important part in how a movie is received, promoted, and discussed.  In the case of “Twilight” and “New Moon”, its popularity depended entirely on those social media tools (fan blogs, Facebook, Myspace, film blogs, etc).  Now that fans of the series have been given the latest installment and because of how it ended (though I won’t spoil that for you), I see perhaps an even larger turnout for the next movie.