So, Disney (NYSE: DIS) shareholders are bracing themselves for another big weekend at the box office. Remember when we were bracing ourselves for the release of the Jonas Brothers concert film? Yeah, that failure. I certainly hope Miley Cyrus does a lot better with her project.
But I have my doubts. Hannah Montana: The Movie opened Friday at over 3,100 domestic theaters. I just don't feel the kind of buzz I had hoped to be feeling at this point surrounding the movie. I don't have the sensation that I've been inundated by the feature's brand equity.
Then again, I'm not the target demographic. Perhaps Disney is reaching all tweens as we speak via the platforms that they frequent and I'm just not aware of it. Tough to tell. Nevertheless, I've seen some of the commercials, and they don't seem overwhelmingly exciting.
All I can do is deal with a couple facts. First, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience grossed about $12 million during its debut weekend. The movie was released at the end of February. Know what its total worldwide gross is so far? Try $20 million. That's ugly. Such data does nothing to inspire me about the new Hannah Montana film.
Many out there will probably say that I'm comparing apples to oranges. Sure, it's possible. I mean, one is a concert film while the other has some plot-driven drama to go along with the musical theme (at least, I think it's a drama; maybe there's comedy in it, too, I'm not sure). When you look through retail stores, though, does Hannah Montana merchandise seem to have the same power it once did? For me, the answer is no. An article over at The Hollywood Reporter rightfully points out that Fast & Furious, distributed by General Electric's (NYSE: GE) Universal, will most likely be the number-one movie this weekend.
Hannah Montana must come in second place. Otherwise, Disney is going to have to scramble to replace its aging fads with some new ones (well, it has to do that anyway, but if the movie opens very weakly, the obligation to make money off a fresh tween sensation will possess a higher degree of urgency). It'll need to dial up the Disney Channel's thermostat and get the incubator cooking once again. The Disney Channel is still a hot cable entity, but don't forget that there's so much competition out there for the attention of those fickle eyeballs. Viacom's (NYSE: VIA) Nickelodeon is always on the prowl to steal viewers, and a lot of kids find Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) Cartoon Network to be cooler than the Mouse's programming.
I'm hoping the movie can open, at the very least, north of $30 million. Expectations, from what I've read, call for something closer to $20 million. Shareholders should pray it does better than that. Much better. Not only did that Jonas Brothers project fail, but Race to Witch Mountain faded pretty fast too. I'm sure CEO Bob Iger is rallying the corporate troops to get out there and sell this movie. Will they succeed? Stay tuned to the box office...
Disclosure: I own Disney, GE; positions can change without notice.