Hollywood loves an established fan-base, and that's exactly what the 9 million people who bought best-seller "Eat, Pray, Love" are - a solid base.
If each of them — mostly women 30 and older — buys a ticket to the film starring Julia Roberts, that adds up to $72 million at the US box office.
Not bad for a chick flick.
The model is Sony's "Julie & Julia" which almost exactly a year ago generated $94 million at the US box office.
Plus, Sony/Columbia , releasing the film in 3,100 theaters this weekend, has invested in reaching younger viewers beyond the core middle-aged fans of the book. Sony's promoting aggressively on MTV's "Jersey Shore", radio stations, and on Amazon. Tracking shows that the promotional push is working with 20-somethings, and could even draw older teens.
And then there's the merchandise gold mine.
There are as many as 400 product tie-ins to the film through HSN, which partnered with the film, for three days of on-air branded content and an interactive web site and a slew of products online. You can even buy a trip based on the author's journey.
This is the first time a studio's ever partnered with the likes of HSN, and Sony will get a cut of the revenues — breaking new ground for how content and merchandise work together. Expect many more studios to look to HSN and the like to squeeze out more revenue from their films, perhaps compensating for the decline in DVD sales.
A hysterical twist: this weekend Lionsgate opens "The Expendables," starring pretty much every action star you could imagine, from Sylvester Stallone to Jason Statham, even Governor Schwarzenegger.
Lionsgate, wisely, is literally challenging guys' manhood, with a call to arms.
The trailer showsa string of chick flicks, including 'Julie & Julia," saying "Julia Roberts may be the final blow." Declaring "August 13th may be our chance to take back what's ours," the trailer launches into a string of violent action scenes, saying "If this movie loses to 'Eat, Pray, Love,' you don't deserve to be a man."
Pretty clever counter-programming.
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