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Ahoy Spidey, dates do count

Sunday, June 3, 2007
By: Joey Yap

A few weeks ago, I talked about the power of a good date and promised to share with you more information and insights into the art of Date Selection. Most people understand the importance of getting a good date to do certain activities like getting married or holding an official opening. However, people often do not understand WHY having a good date is important. For most people, getting a good date for an important activity is to fulfill some superstitious belief or satisfy some cultural requirement. Another box to be ticked off in the long list of wedding to-dos.

So this week, I want to show you why a good date matters. And instead of picking an ordinary example like opening a simple business or getting married, I have chosen a very special industry, the movie business, to illustrate how a good date can make a difference. I selected this industry because I love movies and more importantly, there is no business like show business. In an industry where the cost of making a film seems to go only in one direction (upwards), the pressure for an expensive blockbuster film to open not just well but to sling home with a massive 'booty' within its opening 5 days is imperative. Losing money is not an option.

Also, Hollywood has always understood the power of a good date, although admittedly, not the kind found in the Tong Shu(Chinese Almanac). Traditionally, certain weekends are usually selected for the opening of the summer blockbusters such as July 4 or the US Memorial Day weekend. So this makes the comparison exercise with Chinese Date Selection methods a little more interesting!

The biggest two films that everyone is talking about this year are Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Spiderman 3. So for this Date Selection experiment, I will use the Spider Man and Pirates trilogy. First, they both have common denominators - both the trilogies were made by only one director (so only one BaZi to reference) and secondly, are all 3 part films so we can compare apples with apples. For the purposes of this article, I have used both the premier date and the official opening date in the US (the date when screenings begin in theatres) to compare and contrast - the US date is chosen because the US market is arguably the most important market for the product. So, let's look at some of the basic details.

The Directors!

Spider Man 1, 2 and 3 were directed by Sam Raimi. Mr Raimi is born in the year of the Pig. His Day Master is Wu Earth. Pirates 1, 2, and 3 were directed by Gore Verbinski. Mr Verbinski is born in the year of the Dragon. His Day Master is Jia Wood. (Birth data sourced from


Let's look at the Spider Man franchise first. Spider Man 1 opened on May 3, which is a Bing Zi Day. Using the 12 Day Officer Method (Shi Er Zhi Wei Xing), it is a Success Day. According to Grand Master Dong's System (Dong Gong Ze Re)of Date Selection, this is also a good day, with Yellow Embrace (Huang Sha) and Sky Happiness (Tian Xi) stars present, along with the Heavenly and Monthly Virtue Stars. Spider Man 2 opened on June 30 2004, which is a Geng Chen Day. According to the 12 Day Officer Method, this is an Open Day. This date is also auspicious according to Grand Master Dong's System of Date Selection, with the Heavenly Success (Tian Cheng), Yellow Spiral (Huang Luo) and Purple Sandalwood (Zi Tan) stars present. Spider Man 3 opened on a Full Day and an auspicious day according to Grand Master Dong's System. Interestingly, this date also contains Sam Raimi's personal Fame star and his personal Resource star, which might explain why despite less than great reviews, the film still made a killing on its first weekend!

All three of the Spider Man films opened on what would be regarded as positive and favourable days for an official opening. Thus, the producers were rewarded with some nice box office gold!


Opening Gross

Worldwide Gross

Spider Man 1 114 million 821 million
Spider Man 2 88 million 784 million
Spider Man 3 151 million (n/a)

With Pirates of the Caribbean, all three of the films had a separate premier date and an official opening date. With all three of the Pirates films, the film either had a good premier and average opening date, or an average premier date and a good opening date.

For example, Curse of the Black Pearl, the first installment of Pirates, had its premier on a Gui Wei Day in 2003. The day is in a Fu Yin relationship with the year - not good. However, the film opened on a reasonably good day, according to Grand Master Dong's System. June 28, 2003 was a Ren Shen Day and a day that contains the Heavenly Fortune and Sky Happiness Stars. It is not an exceptionally good day but not too bad.

This might explain why the film had a rather slow start with a poor opening weekend gross (a mere US$46 million) but went on to a pretty decent worldwide gross of US$655 million.

By contrast, Dead Man's Chest had its premier on an exceptionally good day with the Heavenly Fortune and Sky Happiness Stars present. The film opened on July 7, 2006, which is Full Day according to the 12 Day Officer Method, although it is not a good day when Grand Master Dong's Method is considered as it contains the Nine Earth Ghost star. However, this film not only had a fantastic opening weekend, grossing US$100 million in 2 days, but also holds the record for the highest opening weekend gross (US$135 million) and a staggering US$1 billion worldwide gross!


Opening Gross

Worldwide Gross

POTC: Curse of the Black Pearl 46 million 655 million
POTC: Dead Man's Chest 135 million 1 billion
POTC: At World's End 114 million (n/a)


How will Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End fare against Spider Man 3? Pirates had its premier on May 19 2007, with official screenings beginning midnight May 24 2007. The premier date is still a usable date according to Grand Master Dong's System but the ancient text says: "Even though this day has the Sky Happiness and Heavenly Success stars, there is also the Red Phoenix and Grappling Hook Stars. Using this day will attract legal problems and disputes. It will also attract petty people."

The film's official US opening is a Remove Day, but is has auspicious stars, like the Yellow Embrace. However, there is also a negative star, the Heaven and Earth Drilling Sha, which makes it unsuitable for significant events, according to Grand Master Dong's System.

Interestingly, Disney, producer of the Pirates film, is engaged in a spat with Sony, producer of Spider Man, over who's opening weekend numbers are better! Talk about petty people! And the film's opening weekend has not been as good as its second installment.

Of course, this is a very simple computation of the dates used, involving very basic methods like the 12 Day Officer and Grand Master Dong System. To really evaluate the superiority of the dates, the key cast members and the investors as well as the studio heads personal BaZi must be considered, and even the time of the first screening should be taken into account. A more sophisticated Date Selection system like the Heavenly Star (Qi Zheng Si Yu) or Mystical Doors (QiMen) system could be used to further refine the dates. A Date Selection Specialist would not just select the dates for the opening in the US but also in every country if possible, and at the same time ensuring that both the opening screening AND the premier are held on good dates! What IS interesting from this little experiment is that in the instance of all six movies, none opened on bad days such as Destruction or Close Days. All six films had good dates, some obviously better than others. Perhaps, Hollywood understands the power of a good date in more ways than one!

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