Back in 2007 during the first weekend of October, suddenly ticket sales of the box offices went down a huge 27% and no one could figure out why. Film executives went through all the data and studied the scenarios, the film’s had good ratings and there were no economical problems to go to the cinema at the time. So what was the problem? In the end, they blamed the Chief.
Halo 3 was released in October 2007 and the franchise already had a huge following, especially in North America. It was something that the film industry had not really had to think about before, avoiding releasing your film on a major video game release date. Surely now it is something film executives take a look at, but at the time, nobody really knew better. The latest Halo 3 game did break all the box office records on its first day: making $170 million.
After a couple of days it had gone on to sell over $300 million worth of game copies, and the film executives were convinced it was the reason why kids were staying indoors and not going out to see a movie. Ben Stiller’s new film at the time The Heartbreak Kid was projected to make $20 million on its first weekend. Instead because of the Master Chief, it only made $14 million. Bear in mind the film cost $60 million to film, so this is a bad situation to be in.
When your film’s audience major demographic is focused on the ages of 18 to 35, well you may find yourself battling against video games: especially the major franchises like Halo. Over 3 million people owned an Xbox 360 in 2007, and most likely even more do today. So pretty much everyone you thought would come and see your movie, is at home training their aim and fighting against each other in the world of Master Chief and Halo.
The product manager at Microsoft at the time, Josh Goldberg, was not at all surprised by the numbers. He has been on record to state that they indeed advertised the release as if it was a film. They felt Halo 3 was just as big or even bigger than a major blockbuster film. However, the problem the film industry faces with this shift in the dynamics is that unlike a major movie release, where the majority of people will go see it on the first weekend. A major game release could cause a large portion of the population to clear their calendar just for playing the video game.