Sweeney Todd suffered a disastrous 23% drop in terms of its projected weekend earnings from Friday to Saturday. This appeared to be a result of the Redville cognoscenti finally figuring out it’s not a London-based Jack Sparrow adventure of some kind but a (choke…gag) Stephen Sondheim musical. (Fantasy Mogul’s Steve Mason has reported an 11% Friday to Saturday downturn. The 23% drop is based on Friday’s projection of a $12 million weekend vs. Paramount’s own reported weekend tally of $9.3 million.)

Realizing they’d been boondoggled (after ignoring the internet chatter for months), a significant percentage of the slow-on-the-pickup crowd apparently went into shock after seeing Tim Burton‘s dark fantasia on Friday. They obviously passed along some negative comments to their friends (perhaps not only about the music but about the arterial garden-hose spurtings) and led a modest revolt against the Paramount/DreamWorks ad campaign.
Sweeney Todd had been projected to take in $12 million after Friday’s earnings were calculated, but the weekend projection is now down to $9,399,000. I’m told that DreamWorks marketers wanted to sell Todd for the grand guignol musical that it is and open it more slowly — starting with 200 theatres — but Paramount marketers insisted on a fake-out campaign with a bigger 1200-theatre opening.
The main Sweeney Todd trailer wasn’t a total fake-out, of course. The one I saw in theatres two or three times showed Johnny Depp singing the line, “I will have vennn-geance!” What did the dumb-asses think that meant? That the film would be a straight adventure drama about a bunch of pirate ships attacking London?
Other films went down as well. National Treasure was projecting $54 milion, is now projecting $48 million…a drop of 12% from Friday to Saturday. I Am Legend was projected to do $36,900,000, is now looking at $34,800,000. Alvin and the Chipmunks was projected to make $30 million for the weekend, now looking at $28 million. So everyone dropped 10% or thereabouts, but Sweeney Todd‘s 23% drop (calculated by the projected vs. actual weekend figure) was much more than the norm.
It also snowed yesterday in much of the Midwest, which much have hurt ticket sales also.