Whenever a major blockbuster film opens in theaters, its Friday night and weekend sales are added up to give that movie’s famous box office result. This year alone we’ve seen three films enter the Top 3 of opening weekend records: The Hunger Games, entering at third place with $152 Million in March; Marvel’s The Avengers topping the all-time list with $207M in May, and The Dark Knight Rises with $160M in July.
Opening weekend sales are a nice form of validation for the money a studio and/or distributor pumps into the movie upfront, as well as a measure of their reception by the public. If the movie exceeds costs in its opening weekend, then—especially for franchises—it is a big commercial win for the studio and distributor(s). If it fails to even meet costs, it must depend on DVD, Blu-ray and merchandising sales to give a satisfactory ROI — and its director can sometimes suffer from the film’s financial failings by getting more doors shut in his or her face next time around.
While the iPhone 5 is obviously not a movie, nor even really comparable, I thought it would be fun to see how it would perform against Hollywood’s most successful ventures as Apple just issued a press release proudly announcing it sold 5 million iPhones 5 in its opening weekend. That’s a lot, but what does it mean in actual revenue? The numbers are quite staggering.
Horace Dediu at Asymco has kept track of Apple’s performance metrics for years, and informs us that the average sale price for all iPhones hovers around $634 per unit, and could go as high as $660 with this year’s updates. However, that includes previous models, and we’re specifically looking at just the iPhone 5. So for my calculation I ballparked it very conservatively at $750—given that the iPhone 5 starts at $699 for the lowest-end model, this is almost certainly below the real average.
That makes the iPhone’s opening weekend results amount to $3.75 Billion dollars. Not only is that vastly more than the most successful movie’s opening weekend, it’s also more than the most financially successful movie of all time at its current (and ongoing) all-time gross: Avatar, at $2.78 Billion. Even when adjusting for inflatian, the iPhone 5 beats the world’s most successful, historic movie of all time: Gone with the Wind, with inflated gross of $3.3 Billion.
So if the iPhone 5 were a movie, it would have been the highest grossing movie of all time. Clearly, this phone is just a big yawn for consumers.