Homer hits a homer

No D’ohing here: The Simpsons Movie was a big box-office success this weekend, opening at the top with an amazing $72 million, which is the fifth best opening of the year. The movie, based on the long-running sitcom on Fox, succeeded thanks to a strong marketing campaign (from longtime partners 7-Eleven and Burger King) and turnout from die-hard fans and casual fans alike. The movie also received good reviews from critics, with Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert giving it three stars (or a thumbs up.)

(Yours truly attended a showing last night, and let me tell you…. What a show! Laughed my butt off and was very impressed, though was a tad disappointed after I found out they cut some scenes. But the cuts will show up on DVD, so it’s no loss. The Simpsons Movie was much better than the Aqua Teen one.)

Local stations are benefiting, too

Meanwhile, local stations that are airing the syndicated repeats of the show are benefiting from the extra exposure, tying in the program to the movie’s marketing efforts. Among the stories:

-WFLD-TV here in Chicago had a couch at its stage at the recent Taste of Chicago, where fans sit on the Simpson couch and have their picture taken with life-size replicas of Homer Simpson and family. After some 15,000 sit-downs, the couch wore out and a new one had to be built.

-Meanwhile, Meredith’s KPDX-TV in Portland, Ore. had The Simpsons Movie Experience, where the same couch was and over 1,000 people turned out at the Pioneer Courthouse Square to sit with Homer. The couch then made an appearance the next night at a minor-league baseball game, where Simpsons cards was handed out and plugs for the movie as well as the airings of the show on KPDX and sister station Fox affiliate KPTV in that market, which runs first-run episodes. Simpsons creator Matt Groening is also from the Portland area.

– Sinclair stations that air the show, including KDNL-TV in St. Louis and WCGV-TV in Milwaukee, aired a Hooray For Hollywood promotion, showing Simpsons episodes with celebrity guests.

– The thirteen Fox O&O stations that carry the show also had major promotional efforts tying in to the movie, including on-air back plates (that show up for a few seconds after commercial breaks) , ticket giveaways, and one O&O in Austin, Tex. (KTBC) featured an InD’Ohpendence Day celebration, which viewers voted on what episodes they wanted to see from each season.

This fall, The Simpsons will be entering its fourteenth season in syndication and its nineteenth season on Fox, with the season premiere airing on September 23.