Sense of Wonder: Piranha 3D Part 2?

Piranha 3D (2010) CGI fishDimension Films is so happy about the reaction to PIRANHA 3D that they have put out a press release announcing that a sequel is already in the works. The announcement is rather premature, reading more like a marketing ploy to boost the box office fortunes of PIRANHA 3D’s current theatrical release than like a legitimate announcement of a sequel:

DIMENSION FILMS ANNOUNCES THAT PIRANHA 3D – THE SEQUEL IS IN THE WORKS PIRANHA 3D WINS SUCCESS WITH AUDIENCES, CRITICS AND AT THE BOXOFFICE
New York, NY – August 23, 2010 – After earning rave reviews from top critics, wild cheers from audiences around the country, and $10 million in its opening weekend boxoffice, Dimension Films is pleased to announce that PIRANHA 3D – THE SEQUEL is in the works.
PIRANHA 3D producer Mark Canton stated, “We are thrilled that audiences are not just loving PIRANHA 3D, but cheering for it. And it’s fantastic that so many critics are really getting the movie and recommending it. We can’t wait to get to work on the sequel.”

The sentence “PIRANHA 3D wins success with audiences” should to be interpreted in relative terms. The film’s $10-million opening weekend placed it at #6, behind THE EXPENDABLES, VAMPIRES SUCK, EAT PRAY LOVE, THE LOTTERY TICKET, and THE OTHER GUYS. That’s not an astounding opening.
Even making allowances for the film, viewing it as a David-versus-Goliath battle against bigger product in the marketplace, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. THE EXPENDABLES is also from an independent company, Lions Gate Films, and it’s in its second weekend. VAMPIRES SUCK, though released by Fox, is a $20-million movie ($4-million less than PIRANHA 3D) without box office stars. LOTTERY TICKET is from Warner Brothers, but it opened on fewer screens than PIRANHA 3D (1,973 instead of 2,470).
When judging that $10-million gross, one should also remember that PIRANHA 3D has an advantage over the competition: thanks to the unsatisfying post-production 3-D conversion, PIRANHA 3D charges an extra $3 per ticket. At this rate, the film’s final U.S. gross will probably barely earn back its production costs. Overseas sales should help earn back the money spent on prints and advertising (which can double or triple a film’s budget). And home video sales should eventually ensure that the film makes money.
In short, the numbers are nothing to shout about, and if PIRANHA 3D is on its way to success, it is only because it was produced cheaply enough to guarantee profitability on modest returns after all the numbers are added up. The sequel announcement is probably part of Dimension’s tongue-in-cheek promotional campaign, which also includes hyping the exploitation film as an Oscar hopeful.

Read the complete press release here.

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