Weekend Fix: Treasure Threepeats, Juno Exceeds Expectations

     The first weekend of 2008 got the year off to good start, continuing the solid weekend performances that the box office has had for the last three weeks.  Of course, the holidays are pretty much over now, and the Top 12’s box office fell an expected 27% from last weekend, but with only one new film opening, the Top 12 films still managed to gross a collective $123.9 million, which represents a great 19% increase over the first weekend of last year.

     For the third weekend in a row, National Treasure: Book of Secrets held the top spot.  The Nicholas Cage flick earned $20.2 million this weekend, off 43% from last weekend.  Playing in a whopping 3,762 theaters, Disney’s Da Vinci Code rip-off had a pretty good $5,376 venue average.  Probably because of its weak reviews and rehashed story, Book of Secrets hasn’t held up as well as the original National Treasure did, but it will still end up outgrossing its predecessor (I’m seeing a final gross somewhere around $220 million).  After three weekends, National Treasure: Book of Secrets has earned a nice $171 million.
     I Am Legend, Warner Brothers’ apocalyptic thriller starring Will Smith, continued to utterly dominate at the box office.  In its fourth weekend, the sci-fi action movie earned $16.4 million, a 40% drop from last weekend.  After its huge $77 million opening, I Am Legend has been quite leggy, and by next weekend, it will have tripled its opening.  In its fourth weekend, it had a sturdy $4,490 per theater average, which is great for a film of its age.  In 24 days it has grossed a phenomenal $228.7 million.

     The third place film is the real success story of the weekend.  Juno, which expanded into 1,925 theaters this weekend, earned a stunning $16.2 million over the past three days.  Word of mouth has propelled this indie comedy to its incredible level of success, and with an amazing $8,429 per theater average, Juno is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon (Vote on the poll to the right that asks if Juno can break $100 million).  Although many awards voters won’t admit it, a film’s box office definitely matters when it comes to choosing award winners, and Juno‘s setting itself up for some major victories in the coming months.  After five weeks Fox Searchlight’s feature has earned $52 million.
     Finally out of the top three, Alvin and the Chipmunks fell 45% this weekend to $16 million.  The rodent comedy had a $4,622 venue average, and it has earned $176.7 million overall.  The terribly reviewed children’s movie just won’t die!  Mark my words, if the Writers Guild of America weren’t on strike right now, Fox would already be in the stages of preproduction for a sequel, and with $200 million right around the corner, a new installment of Alvin will be cranked out as soon as possible.

     One Missed Call, the weekend’s sole opening film, debuted to an alright $13.5 million.  The Warner Brothers horror film, which could win an award for not receiving a single positive review, had a very front-loaded weekend.  With a $5.2 million Friday, One Missed Call could only achieve a 2.6 internal multiplier, which implies that it will have very short legs at the box office.  It had an okay $6,038 per theater average, which is not terrible, but certainly nothing special, and I’m guessing that One Missed Call will probably finish its run with a bad $30 million.  No one’s going to miss this one…
     In sixth place, Charlie Wilson’s War kept on redeeming its slow start.  Down 32%, Universal’s Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts political comedy grossed $8.2 million this weekend, giving it a fairly small $3,155 venue average.  Overall, Charlie Wilson’s War has grossed $52.6 million, and while this is lower than one would expect given the pedigree of its stars, it’s very good considering how poorly the film opened.  It could end with about $70-80 million overall.

     P.S. I Love You fell a tiny 14% to $8 million, as it continued its inexplicable endurance at the box office.  With a venue average of $3,244, P.S. I Love You isn’t breaking any records, but it is notable that the Warner Brothers romantic comedy did better in its third weekend than it did in its opening.  I guess word-of-mouth is good among teenage girls, who just love to cry at the movies.  In three weeks, Hilary Swank’s foray into female roles has earned a not-too-shabby $39.4 million.
     The Water Horse was back in eighth place this weekend.  The children’s fantasy has been utterly overlooked, and was down 31% this weekend, for a $6.3 million gross, and a low $2,269 per theater average.  In total, Sony’s The Water Horse has splashed up a disappointing $30.9 million after three weeks.
     Sweeney Todd looks to be following a very similar trajectory to Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, which finished up with $53 million.  This weekend, Dreamworks/Paramount’s slasher musical, Sweeney Todd, found another $5.4 million, a 34% drop.  It was a good decision to keep the theater count low on this one, as it still has a fairly good $4,323 venue average in its third weekend.  This should keep in theaters a while longer, and with a few awards, Sweeney Todd could become a bona fide success.  We’ll have to wait and see.  For now, the musical gorefest will have to live with its $38.5 million total.

     Taking a page out of Juno‘s book, Atonement also had a very successful expansion this weekend.  Moving into 583 theaters, Atonement increased 64% to $5.1 million.  Its per theater average of $8,790 was the best in the Top 12, which should merit further expansions in the future.  It remains to be seen whether Atonement can outgross director Joe Wright’s previous picture, Pride and Prejudice, which earned $39 million, but I’m thinking it should have no trouble doing so.  Thus far, the Focus Features film has made $19.2 million
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem deteriorated in its second weekend, dropping 58% to $4.3 million, proving that everyone who really wanted to see this has already done so.  The weekend gross gave Fox’s mindless action movie a wretched $1,624 venue average, and assured that it will disappear from theaters quickly.  So far, AVP:R has grosses $30.5 million, with about a third of that coming from its opening day alone.

     Rounding out the Top 12 is Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters, which earned $4.2 million over the weekend frame.  The small MGM drama had an okay $3,291 per theater average.  With $22 million overall, The Great Debaters hasn’t performed spectacularly, but its done pretty well for a small film that had absolutely zero buzz going for it.  A few awards could help its cause tremendously.
     Next weekend brings four new films: the old-people laugher, The Bucket List, the Veggie Tales production, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, criminal comedy, First Sunday, and Uwe Boll’s latest (awful) video game adaptation, In The Name Of The King.  At this point, none seem to have real breakout potential, and the box office may be relying on holdovers for yet another week.  Check back next week for the Weekend Preview.

Top 12 for January 4-6

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $20,225,000 $171,033,000
2 I Am Legend $16,380,000 $228,718,000
3 Juno $16,225,000 $52,031,842
4 Alvin and the Chipmunks $16,000,000 $176,737,736
5 One Missed Call $13,525,000 $13,525,000
6 Charlie Wilson’s War $8,184,070 $52,630,360
7 P.S. I Love You $8,015,000 $39,383,000
8 The Water Horse $6,300,000 $30,893,000
9 Sweeney Todd $5,400,000 $38,472,000
10 Atonement $5,124,297 $19,215,527
11 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $4,250,000 $36,820,839
12 The Great Debaters $4,245,000 $22,007,817

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

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2 Responses to “Weekend Fix: Treasure Threepeats, Juno Exceeds Expectations”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    “I guess word-of-mouth is good among teenage girls, who just love to cry at the movies. In three weeks, Hilary Swank’s foray into female roles has earned a not-too-shabby $39.4 million.”You guys are so full of it. The film demographics are adult woman and couples.. not teenage girls. When will you guys admit that the critcal reviews are just wrong..wrong… wrong about this film. Its gonna have staying power.

  2. Grady Smith Says:

    I can see what you’re saying here, but I don’t think I’m being “full of it” at all. I’m seeing a clear Notebook-esque quality to this film’s box office performance, and that was a film fueled by teenage girls. That does not mean that teenage girls are unimportant or stupid, and I’m not saying that adults and couples aren’t going to see it, because they are. However, word of mouth among adults tends to happen more around award contenders, and this is not one of those films. Audiences do seem to be connecting to it, and it’s doing well for itself!Believe me, I’m not one to doubt the collective conscience (except when it comes to Alvin and the Chipmunks…)Thanks for your input, and thanks for reading, but I hope you and everyone don’t think I’m taking myself too seriously. Part of the reason I wanted to start this website was to offer fun, slightly opinionated, informative insight to the film industry, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

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