We all know that Doctor Who fans are a special kind of beast — fiercely loyal, dedicated, and operate somewhat as a kind of perpetually enthusiastic cult. So it should come as no surprise that when BBC America invited fans to a series of 50th anniversary screenings across the globe, fans showed up in droves. Like, Hunger Games-esque droves.
In the US alone, the 11 nationwide screenings of Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor that took place Monday night — after the special had aired on TV, by the way — scored a per-screen average of $13,603, performing better than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which had a $12,300 per screen average and was shown on more than 4,000 screens. Globally, the screenings earned $10.2 million. That’s pretty huge.
These results — combined with the overall buzz surrounding the sold-out screenings — also begs the question: Do we want to see more cult television screened in theaters?
If you ask Syfy, that answer would be no. After all, their one-night only midnight screenings of summer cult hit Sharknado bombed back in August, pulling a disappointing $200,000. I’d argue, however, that Sharknado was a bit of a flash in the pan to begin with — here today, eaten by a flying shark tomorrow. In a time when even franchises with established fan bases have trouble filling movie seats, Sharknado had the odds against it.
Meanwhile, Doctor Who has had 50 years to cultivate a fandom that loves the show, loves talking about the show, loves supporting the show, and loves being with other people who like the show. That, I think, was the secret to its success in theaters, and something I’d love to see duplicated for other cult TV events.
A scenario: Had AMC hosted Breaking Bad series finale screenings across the country — would you have attended? Or would you have paid $15 per person to watch Office series finale with a group of like-minded fans or a shelled out to weep over the Fringe finale with others over a bucket of popcorn? I would.
Point being — and I’m sure Whovians who attending the screenings would agree — yes, it’s fun to watch TV and riff with friends on Twitter, but you can’t replace the thrill of watching something with a crowd. (Fun fact: The Alamo Drafthouse hosted screenings of Breaking Bad every week during the final season.) Also, it’s healthy to leave the house once in a while. And if anything’s going to get me into real pants, it’s going to be the chance to hangout with people wearing bow ties.
Your thoughts are invited: