‘The Greatest Showman’ is Defying Conventional Hollywood Wisdom

The Hugh Jackman musical was bound for also ran status until audiences started singing the film’s praises.

Movies live or die by their opening weekend grosses. Or so the not-so-old saw goes.

If a blockbuster wannabe doesn’t connect with audiences right away its chances of doing so over the long haul are limited.

And that’s being kind.

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Why? The public typically rushes to see “event” films on opening weekend. The crush of media behind a given film is loudest right before its release date. And, most importantly, subsequent weekends feature shiny new releases clamoring for our attention.

“The Greatest Showman” isn’t playing by the usual rules.

The Hugh Jackman musical opened to a soft $8 million following its Dec. 20 release. That’s hardly encouraging to the studio’s bean counters. Given the tremendous competition during any given December film schedule, it seemed like “The Greatest Showman’s” box office hopes would deflate like a carnival balloon.

Only “The Greatest Showman” persevered.

Week after week the film’s box office results dropped modestly, compared to other films at the cineplex. Blockbuster films typically see their audiences dwindle by 50 percent (or more) from week to week.

“Showman” showed sturdy legs instead.

n fact, the film only dropped 14 percent over the current Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. More impressive? The film hauled in $11 million during that frame … more than its opening weekend.

It begs the question … why?

  • It’s that rare, PG-rated film that isn’t animated or directly aimed at the kiddies.
  • Word of mouth still matters, sparked by passionate social media conversations.
  • Jackman is not only a talented song and dance man but less divisive than most modern stars.
  • Oh, that irresistible music from the team behind “La La Land,” Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

20th Century Fox shrewdly upped the ante this weekend. The studio released a special version of the film in 300 theaters flashing the songs’ lyrics on the screen. The sing-a-long format is a brilliant marketing ploy to play up the film’s undeniable strength.

Those songs…


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Christian Toto

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, film critic, radio show co-host and podcaster. He's the founder of HollywoodInToto.com, which covers entertainment from a right-of-center perspective. He's appeared on Fox News and Fox Business along with nationally syndicated radio shows like "The Hugh Hewitt Show" and "The Mike Gallagher Show." Follow him on Twitter @HollywoodInToto

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