Updated (11/27, 4:45am): Doctor Who event breaks records, according to distributor NCM/Fathom Events.
Grossing approximately $4.77 million (avg. $7,155 per theater), as reported by Rentrak, TDOTD took 2nd place in the North American box office, setting the record for highest take for a one-night, unaudited theatrical event. With over 320,000 tickets sold, it also marks Fathom Events most attended one-night event ever. (Ticket price increases, and the 3D surcharge could have meant an overall gross record, with fewer tickets sold, but Who took both.) Finally, NCM notes this event sold a record breaking 175,000+ tickets in presales, and generated the largest volume of traffic at the NCM’s fathomevents.com website ever. “Doctor Who fans have proven their loyalty and devotion to this series, making it the most successful sci-fi series ever and now the biggest Fathom, one-night event, ever,” said Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president of Fathom Events.
Original (11/25, 11:45pm): Who would pay 15 smackers to watch a rerun of a TV episode that aired just 2 days ago? Who fans, and WOW there are a lot of them!
If you live in a major city, in any of 80 countries around the world, you’d have had the chance to watch the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Special Episode event simulcast in theaters as it first aired on Britich TV this past Saturday. We smaller markets had to wait until today for our chance to see it on the big screen.
Regal Cinemas, NCM Fathom Events, and the BBC can mark this one in the ‘Win’ column – for overall attendance, broad demographics, and technical wizardry.
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When tickets first went on sale, October 25th, the first local showing sold out within hours, and by 3pm that day, Crossgates had already added an additional screen. As I’d written at the time, “No doubt, this wont be the last addition.”
So, how big did it get exactly? “Huge. This is huge,” a well mannered theater employee noted with an understated calm, emphasizing, “This is an event that you can say that. It’s huge!” Soumya Sriraman, EVP Home Entertainment and Licensing, BBC Worldwide North America affirms the local sentiment, responding “It’s incredible that Doctor Who has made history once again, setting record numbers across the board on BBC AMERICA, in social media, and now in theaters. It’s a testament to the fans and their dedication for Doctor Who. We wanted to fulfill the fans desire to be part of the global celebration and they rewarded BBC AMERICA and NCM Fathom Events with their enthusiasm and support,”
At Crossgates, the marquee listed 3 screens showing at 7:30, and 10pm. A quick inspection of each screening before the lights dimmed affirmed all at or near capacity. It only takes the added knowledge of the number of seats in each theater to calculate a total attendance of approximately 1,800 at Regal’s Crossgates 18 Cinemas in Albany.
With an audience as diverse as it was large, some flying solo, others with companions in tow, and whole families were arriving in droves.
As multigenerational as the doctors on screen, as varied in size and shape, age and gender, the individuality stood out as much as the variety of dress. Scarfs and tardi, bowtied and fezzed, each joined in the expression of their common adoration for the Whoniverse.
Super-high-speed communications, satellite transmission, and digital projection have all combined to make these events possible. In fact, NCM is capable of delivering a live, high-def event to over 750 theaters simultaneously, with Who consuming nearly 90% of that bandwidth, beaming to over 660 theaters. The event started off with a bang, or actually, without one. No audio. Nothing. Being broadcast via satellite, that glitch affected every screen. By definition, Who fans are a good-natured, optimistic bunch, so it’s little surprise the first wisecrack called out was the classic, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” (With the theater erupting into laughter.) It seems digital has one clear new advantage over film: One phone call to Denver with a simple request, “Reset us,” and all is well. That’s a lot smoother than trying to re-spool a platter full of celluloid.
In all, not a bad showing for a pre-holiday, Monday night, theatrical replay of a just aired foreign market TV show.
Live Opera performances are among NCM/Fathom Events most lucrative offerings. But then, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray release event last April proved exceptionally popular. And, while theater attendance overall has been shrinking, this Doctor Who event marks the second sci-fi television crossover in a row generating stellar interest. Michelle Portillo, PR & Communications director for NCM has previously advised they don’t usually release ticket sales figures for specific events. Even so, this might just be hinting at an emerging market for theatrical revenue.
One thing’s for certain: if Matt Smith and company didn’t feel like international superstars before, they certainly should now.
Doctor Who is copyright the British Broadcasting Company.