Some Exit Poll Data on Expelled

Dallas Morning News runs this profile of Premise Media CEO A. Logan Craft. The feature spotlights the results of theater exit data collected by Premise and sheds additional light on the range of impacts I discussed earlier today.

Just like with polls released by political candidates or advocacy groups, these figures are to be interpreted with caution. But of interest from the article is that Premise is looking at the theater run as at least a six week experiment, with this past weekend being a big test. (The film earned another $1.4 million.) Also, given the selective nature of the audience, the film is apparently generating a very strong word-of-mouth which could go a long way in mobilizing more of the born-again market segment.

Premise Media hired Chicago-based Market Data Corp. to conduct extensive exit polls to see who is coming to see Expelled and what they think of it. Last weekend, 1,100 moviegoers were interviewed as they left theaters in six states. Mr. Craft is encouraged by the findings. The audiences were almost equally split between men and women. That means that it's not a chick flick or a Rambo and that couples are coming, he says.

Eighty-five percent were between the ages of 24 and 64, and 24 percent were 45 to 54. Asked if they were born-again Christians, 80 percent said yes. Although 22 percent of the moviegoers were Baptists, there was a rainbow of other religions represented. (Oddly enough, of 1,100 respondents in six states, there wasn't a single Episcopalian.)

"Our best-performing theater was in Saratoga, Calif., a high-end suburb of San Jose. Who'da thunk it?" Mr. Craft says. "Our highest-producing theaters were all high-end and west of the Mississippi. That was really a surprise." Some poorer-performing markets included Port Arthur, Texas, and Biloxi, Miss.

Mr. Craft draws a circle around one statistic: 96 percent said they'd recommend Expelled. "This is huge. That's off the charts." If Expelled does turn a profit, Mr. Craft and his partners would like to create an investment fund to finance a variety of media projects, including other documentaries with a point of view. "But we'll have to wait and see what happens in the next six weeks," he says.

More like this

I've been to Saratoga. It is actually the closest town to where my sister lives. That is some kind of odd anomaly. Trust me.

Indeed, I'm at the moment taking the odd numbers here as more likely wrong than astounding.

(Is there even a theater in Saratoga? ... )

To borrow a phrase from what PZ just posted about, the movie could have said that Darwin was a demon with clawed feet and horns, and the exit polls would have been just as positive. This was a ready-made hit among certain types...namely, evangelicals who will never accept the reality of evolutionary science on religious grounds.

"...96 percent said they'd recommend Expelled. 'This is huge. That's off the charts.'"

...that's the result of a self-selected sample. I would bet that they would have recommended it before they saw it; they aren't recommending the film, but the polico-religous message.

By Grant Canyon (not verified) on 28 Apr 2008 #permalink

Saratoga has a 14-screen theater in the El Paseo de Saratoga mall, on its border with Cupertino. I think it's the only screen in Silicon Valley where Expelled is showing, and it is easy to get to. We do have some Christian megachurches in the area, so there's some target audience. With an excess of 1.5 million people in Santa Clara county alone, a very small percentage of the population could be conservative Christians, but could easily fill a theater.

I prefer this frame, from Rotten Tomatoes.

Percent positive ratings:

Expelled: 9% (all reviews), 0% (top critics)
Zombie Strippers: 35% (all reviews), 27% (top critics)
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay: 57% (all reviews), 60% (top critics)

Keep in mind documentaries do unusually well at RT (Super Size Me is at 93%; even Faces of Death is at 11%).

I also recommend this piece by John Derbyshire at the National Review.

It begs the question, what next?

Given it's location the demographic would far more likely be Cupertino given that it's much more convenient to the Cupertino side there. I used to work in the strip mall there, traffic was much more geared toward the middle class/east side crowd than the hoity toity Saratogans ;)

Yep, regarding the exit polling, if I only asked my mom and dad, I would get 100% affirmative results stating that I was the "handsomest, brightest, smartest, strongest, person in the world, who should always get all funding applied for and all publication submissions accepted (without question.)"

[Dawkins's and Myers's] "commitment to ridiculing religion presents the public with mixed messages about the important differences between science, atheism, and faith."

I don't understand what this sentence means.

By Jeff Chamberlain (not verified) on 30 Apr 2008 #permalink

It may be the case that most people who see Expelled would recommend it, but for some reason word of mouth doesn't appear to be helping them much.

There's no groundswell of attendance---very much the opposite.

In its third full week, attendance dropped by about half, just as it did between weeks one and two. It grossed almost $4 million its first week, about 2 its second week, and about 1 its third week. (With the number of theaters showing it dropping by more than a third between weeks 1 and 2.)

It stands poised to lose about half yet again for the fourth week; more than a third of the third-week theaters (254) are dropping it, leaving only 402.

At this impressive exponential rate of decline, it stands to gross less than 8 million dollars.

That's pretty awful for a movie with a multimillion dollar ad budget, a thousand-screen opening, and 93 percent of the viewers recommending it.

It lends support to some of the comments above. Apparently the large majority seeing the movie are people who made up their minds to like it and recommend whether it sucks or not.

This is not a movie that will change a lot of people's minds. It's performing about as badly as we could have dared to hope, given the resources put into it. It will not come anywhere close to making money at the box office---it will lose millions---and it has such a bad smell to it that people are staying in droves. Its per-screen numbers are pathetic, and that's why it keeps losing screens.

You seem to have been suckered by the Premise folks' PR. The movie is failing and failing spectacularly; and word of mouth from the people who've seen it is evidently not saving it.

That has to put something of a damper on the post-theatrical propaganda uses of the film. Sure, some of the worst kooks will still try to use it, but some of the less crazy folks will be put off by the stench.