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'Tron Legacy' Crosses $100 Million Mark, Earns a Quarter of it from IMAX

Tron: Legacy
Tron: Legacy

Tron: Legacy crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office on Tuesday. The movie, budgeted at $170 million, which has been in U.S. theaters for 12 days, has also made around $75 million overseas.

The most interesting note about the domestic number is that almost a quarter of the box office receipts -- about $25 million -- are from IMAX theaters. Tron is playing in 3,451 theaters across Canada and the U.S., with only 235 of those being IMAX houses. For that low count to generate 25% of the gross is astonishing. And a record proportion for IMAX.

But while that is good news for IMAX, it’s not necessarily good news for Disney. IMAX filmgoers tend to be in the 15 to 34-year-old demo and are -- how shall I put it? -- geekier than the average person. So the numbers reveal that while the tentpole is performing solidly in its core demo, it’s ability to break out into a broader audience might remain a bit elusive, despite the extensive ad campaign designed to widen the tent.

Also coming into play for Tron is the PG rating. The classification would theoretically broaden the potential audience, allowing families to join in on the trip to the Grid. But some box office observers note that the classification might have signaled that the movie isn’t as edgy as some fanboys -- the fickle fans of these kind of movies -- would have liked.

Ratings are actually a larger issue for Disney, which has signalled a desire to lure notable filmmakers to develop projects for its slate. For example, David Fincher and Guillermo del Toro, both known for making envelope-pushing films, are working on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Haunted Mansion, respectively. Disney will need to find ways to develop projects that not only showcase the distinct voice of their filmmakers -- usually that factor that allows a film to pop above the din -- but still be broad enough to attract the size of audience the studio craves.