Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Are We Ready for United 93? The numbers say, yes.
The numbers behind the weekend opening of the controversial film 'United 93' says the public is ready for a 9/11 drama as long as it’s good — $11.5 million in ticket sales at just 1,795 theaters. Break the box office grosses down to an average of $6,395 per theater and 'United 93' boasts the weekend's biggest crowds. It’s no wonder that the feedback from staff at Universal Pictures, the film’s U.S, distributor, is celebratory. They have taken a movie thought to be a hard sell and made it the first must-see, prestige release of 2006.
A matter-of-fact suspense movie that recreates the events on the doomed Sept. 11, 2001 airliner in real-time, director Paul Greengrass also earned the best reviews of his career. The media can be a cynical bunch when it comes to movies ripped from current events but 'United 93' was better than all expectations. In this tale of everyday heroes, Greengrass created heart-pounding suspense without ever resorting to knee-jerk sentimentality. Basically, he’s told the story respectfully.
More important than the glowing statistics are the tears shed by people exiting the theaters. I’ve overheard moviegoers describe 'United 93' as the most emotional film they’ve watched since 'Schindler’s List'. What they tell their friends and family about 'United 93', the precious word of mouth, will help determine the long-term financial and critical success of the movie. After all, a successful opening weekend pales compared to recommendations from teary-eyed moviegoers.