Archive for the ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Category

Weekend Fix: Treasure Threepeats, Juno Exceeds Expectations

January 6, 2008

     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.


Weekend Preview: Will "Call" Hit Or Miss?

January 4, 2008

     In the first weekend of 2008, with just one new film opening, the box office will have to rely on holdovers to sustain the great grosses of the holiday season. Still, 2008’s offerings should have no trouble outgrossing 2007’s first weekend, when Night At The Museum was on top. This year, National Treasure: Book of Secrets should top the box office for a third weekend in a row, but Alvin and the Chipmunks could be some stiff competition. Newcomer One Missed Call hopes to break out, while Atonement and Juno receive major expansions.

     One Missed Call, a remake of a Japanese horror film, is the sole opener this weekend. With a story that sounds remarkably similar to The Ring (and every other techno-supernatural Japanese thriller), One Missed Call tells the story of a woman who hears her own death over her cell phone, and then must figure out how to prevent her inevitable fate from occurring. Released by Warner Brothers, One Missed Call hopes to garner some of the success that other early-January horror releases have seen. In January 2005, White Noise opened with $24 million, and in 2006, Hostel surprised with a $19.6 million opening. Unfortunately, in 2007, moviegoers firmly rejected new horror titles. Hostel: Part II, The Hills Have Eyes 2, Vacancy, Hannibal Rising, The Reaping, and The Mist all finished with less than $30 million, and the Japanese style of horror has been out ever since torture-porn came along (Though, judging by the failures I just listed, it looks like torture-porn is out too). Advertising has been solid, but the movie still looks terribly generic- And what do you know? It wasn’t screened for critics! Launching in 2,240 theaters, One Missed Call might find a small $8 million over the weekend.
     The first major expansion of the weekend comes with Juno, which almost doubles its theater count to 1,925 venues. The teen pregnancy comedy has been picking up steam at an almost exponential rate in the last two weeks, performing more like a studio release than an indie flick, and while the expansion will cause a decrease in the per theater average, Juno should still have a great weekend. With a $14 million weekend, the Fox Searchlight picture will be pushing a phenomenal $50 million. Suddenly, $100 million seems like a possibility!     With Juno acting like such a champ, its easy to forget about a film like Focus Features’ Atonement, which has been quietly performing very solidly in its own right. The Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Saoirse Ronan (whose being hailed the next Dakota Fanning) movie has already earned $14 million, and with awards on the way, it still has a lot left in it. Atonement expands into 583 theaters this weekend, and it should pull in about $4.2 million.
     Among holdovers, small 30-45% drops should be the case for most films. National Treasure: Book of Secrets should again be on top, and a 40% decrease will give Disney’s Jerry Bruckheimer production about $21 million for the weekend, and $171 million overall. Right on its heels, Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks should have a smaller drop, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it even took the top spot. The Fox film should earn about $19 million in the next three days, giving it a $170 million running total. America, I hope you’re ready for sequels… In third, Sony’s I Am Legend will find an additional $16 million for a huge $227 million total.

Predicted Top 12 for January 4-6
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $21 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $19 million
3. I Am Legend – $16 million
4. Juno – $14 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $8 million
6. One Missed Call – $8 million
7. P.S. I Love You – $6.1 million
8. The Water Horse – $5.5 million
9. Sweeney Todd – $4.6 million
10. Alien Vs. Predator – $4.5 million
11. Enchanted – $4.2 million
12. Atonement – $4.2 million

Weekend Fix: Alvin Could Beat Out National Treasure…

December 30, 2007

     The last weekend of 2007 proved to be a great one at the movies, and a diverse offering of films helped propel the box office to lucrative heights.  This weekend, the Top 12 grossed a grossed a phenomenal $168.7 million, which represents an 11% increase over last weekend, and a whopping 17% increase over the same weekend last year.  The amazing holiday season has completely wiped out the bad taste left by the Fall’s weak offerings.  Thankfully, the Winter season has redeemed the terrible box office declines of the September, October, and November, in which only The Game Plan, Enchanted, and American Gangster could be seen as real successes.  While, the top film this weekend was kind of a given, the real story is the unbelievable success of the film in second place.

     National Treasure: Book of Secrets again topped the box office this weekend.  The Disney adventure picture found another $35.6 million this weekend, representing a 20% drop from a week ago.  While this is probably a bit larger than the Disney execs would like to see, it was somewhat expected given that the film was a sequel.  Sequels normally open larger and drop more quickly than their predecessors, and this holds true for Book of Secrets as well.  You see, normally 20% is a tiny drop, but given the holiday season and the family nature of the film, it’s a bit large.  Still, the Nicholas Cage film (actually, I prefer to think of it as a Justin Bartha [pictured above] film- he’s infinitely more entertaining as second banana, Riley) is doing very well, and with a great $9,299 per theater average, it should keep playing for many weeks to come.  After ten days, National Treasure: Book of Secrets has earned $124 million.
     As I said, the real story of the weekend is the second placed film, Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Now in it’s third weekend, the adaptation of the popular 60’s cartoons has been unstoppable at the box office.  After a stunning $44.3 million opening, it fell a small 35% to $28.1 million, and this weekend, the CGI chipmunk film increased 6% to $30 million.  For a movie with such awful reviews, its performance is fairly surprising, but the Fox film was marketed well, and it firmly established itself as the first holiday offering for families of young children.  With a running total of $142.4 million, the question now is: Can Alvin and the Chipmunks outgross National Treasure?  Based on its per venue average of $8,611, a long theater run and a $200 million gross seem entirely attainable, but you’ll have to stay posted to see just how far it can go.

     Will Smith holds onto the third place spot with I Am Legend.  The vampire/zombie/apocalyptic action thriller dropped 18% to $27.5 million this weekend.  I Am Legend has been making Sony very happy for three weeks now, and after just 17 days, it already ranks as the 9th most successful film of 2007 (Check back tomorrow for 2007’s Top 50).  Based on its $7,570 venue average, it looks like I Am Legend has enough steam left in it to surpass Men In Black‘s $250 million gross and become Smith’s highest grossing film in ten years.  So far, it’s earned a box-office saving $194.6 million.

     Charlie Wilson’s War performed better than last weekend, increasing 7% to $11.8 million over the last three days.  Fantastic reviews, along with some good old-fashioned movie stars in Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts are keeping this picture going.  Since it has a much more adult audience, it’s guaranteed to have pretty good legs at the box office, for adults don’t rush out to the theaters to see films like teenagers do, and it might end up a rather solid performer.  Its per theater average of $4,570 is still not great, but it’s better than last week, and with a little awards attention, it should go much further.  After ten days, Universal’s Charlie Wilson’s War has made $34.5 million.

     In fifth place is Juno, the movie that audiences love to love.  Out of just 998 theaters, Juno earned a fantastic $10.3 million, giving it the best venue average in the Top 12 with a stunning $10,321.   Trendier and more marketable than Little Miss Sunshine ever was, the teen pregnancy comedy has caught on, and it is one of the few films I can remember that actually outperforms its own buzz.  Screenwriter Diablo Cody has received major attention for the screenplay and leading actress Ellen Page is almost guaranteed a few awards for her work.  With a miniscule budget, a great cast, a killer soundtrack, and endlessly positive word of mouth, Juno should keep making Fox Searchlight very, very happy.  It has earned an incredible $25.7 million after four weekends.

     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem couldn’t crack the Top 5 in its opening weekend, earning $10 million.  Earlier this week, AVP:R earned $9.5 million on just its first day, so this figure is nothing to get excited about.  Neither is the low $3,849 per theater average.  Expect the sci-fi actionfest to keep crumbling very quickly from here, for unlike Charlie Wilson’s War, this has a very young audience who all rush to see the film as soon as they can.  After 6 days, the Fox movie has made $26.7 million.

     The Water Horse continued to perform poorly, earning a small $9.2 million in its first weekend.  I couldn’t imagine a less exciting ad campaign that The Water Horse‘s, and audiences have met the film with a resounding blah.  When it comes to the box office, slow and steady doesn’t win the race.  With a bad per theater average of $3,319, Sony’s fantasy flick has earned a sad $16.8 million.
     For no apparent reason, P.S. I Love You surged a great 40% this weekend to $9 million.  The poorly reviewed Hilary Swank romantic comedy from Warner Brothers earned a bad $6.5 million last weekend, but it did well for itself over the past few days.  It still had a low venue average of $3,693, but it can probably make it to $40 million by the end of its run.  So far, P.S. I Love You has earned $23.4 million.
     Sweeney Todd fell 14% to $8 million this weekend for ninth place.  Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s dreary musical does not have the mass playability of Hairspray or Chicago, but it’s done marginally well for itself.  With some awards attention, it could go pretty far.  Still only playing in 1,249 theaters, Sweeney Todd had a solid $6,405 per theater average, so it’ll stick around for a while.  Thus far, the Paramount/Dreamworks musical has bagged $26.7 million.

     Showing the greatest staying power of any film in the Top 12, Enchanted lost 490 theaters this weekend, but still increased a whopping 54% for a $6.5 million weekend.  The Disney comedy starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Susan Sarandon had a per theater average of $2,874, which is fantastic for a film in its sixth weekend.  So far the magical blockbuster has conjured up a terrific $110.7 million.
     MGM and Oprah’s The Great Debaters played pretty well out of just 1,171 theaters.  The well reviewed debating movie starring Denzel Washington earned $6.3 million, which is pretty good for a relatively unknown movie.  It had a pretty good $5,383 venue average, but it will need a lot of awards buzz to really qualify as a success.  So far, The Great Debaters has made $13.6 million in six days.
     The Golden Compass held on for one last weekend in the Top 12, with just $4.3 million.  The expensive New Line failure dropped 1,018 theaters going into the weekend, and with a bad $2,248 per theater average, it will drop the rest fairly quickly.  (Note to Hollywood: Do not put Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in the same movie- it will fail.  Earlier this year, those two led $80 million production The Invasion to a measly $15 million finish.)  After four weekends, The Golden Compass has pulled in only $58 million.
Top 12 for December 28-30
# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $35,632,000 $124,035,000
2 Alvin and the Chipmunks $30,000,000 $142,374,569
3 I Am Legend $27,525,000 $194,600,000
4 Charlie Wilson’s War $11,767,750 $34,506,180
5 Juno $10,300,000 $25,681,218
6 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $10,050,000 $26,880,017
7 The Water Horse $9,200,000 $16,821,000
8 P.S. I Love You $9,100,000 $23,398,000
9 Sweeney Todd $8,000,000 $26,719,000
10 Enchanted $6,500,000 $110,650,000
11 The Great Debaters $6,304,000 $13,548,000
12 The Golden Compass $4,350,000 $58,000,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Friday Estimates: Treasure Tops Charts, Predator Becomes Prey

December 29, 2007

     Friday numbers are in, and the box office is thriving.  We’re headed for some very solid weekend totals based on these Friday results, and many holdovers will see increases in their weekend-to-weekend grosses.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets should hold onto the top spot this weekend, with a Friday gross of $12.2 million.  I saw this movie last night, and it was one of the silliest, stupidest, most preposterous, wildly entertaining movies I have seen in quite some time.  (Thank goodness Justin Bartha’s comic timing balances out Cage’s ridiculous maxims…) I let go of all my movie-buff pretentiousness, leaned back in my seat, and had a wonderful time.  It’s certainly family friendly enough to keep pulling in families, and it has the Disney brand name, so it should have a pretty good weekend multiplier.  Book of Secrets looks headed for a $40 weekend.
     Alvin and the Chipmunks flexed its box office muscle last night, holding off I Am Legend for the second place spot.  With $10.4 million, Alvin increased a great 24% from last Friday, while I Am Legend fell a small 16% to $9.2 million.  Fox’s rodent comedy should finish the weekend with about $33 million, and Warner Brothers’ sci-fi thriller might pull in $28 million.

     Also increasing from last weekend, Charlie Wilson’s War pulled in a solid $3.9 million, and with a probable $11 million weekend, the Universal political dramedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts is on its way to redeeming its slow start.
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem lost some major steam going into the weekend, placing fifth on Friday with $3.4 million.  It appears that the fanboys really did all see AVP:R on opening night, so this should have a pretty bad holiday multiplier.  Look for just over $9 million this weekend.
     Juno will pass the aforementioned alien thriller by the end of the weekend.  After earning $3.3 million on Friday, the Ellen Page comedy should earn about $10 million over three days.
     The Water Horse continued to behave exactly like the legend of the Loch Ness monster- except for a few witnesses, no one has seen it.  With $3.2 million on Friday, it could earn just under $10 million over the weekend, giving it a small $20 million overall.

     Among the rest of the films, P.S. I Love You did better than last weekend, with $3 million on Friday.  Sweeney Todd revealed some of its front-loadedness with an alright $2.7 million.  And The Great Debaters pulled in a small $2 million (though Enchanted did better with $2.3 million).
Friday Estimates for December 28
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $12.2 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $10.4 million
3. I Am Legend – $9.2 million
4. Charlie Wilson’s War – $3.9 million
5. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem – $3.4 million
6. Juno – $3.3 million
7. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep – $3.2 million
8. P.S. I Love You – $3 million
9. Sweeney Todd – $2.7 million
10. Enchanted – $2.3 million
11. The Great Debaters – $2 million
12. The Golden Compass – $1.5 million

Weekend Preview: Treasure, Legend, Alvin Look To Lead Again

December 28, 2007

     In the last weekend of 2007, the box office is primed for a highly lucrative three days.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets will continue its dominance atop the charts, and the box office rankings should look extremely similar to the Christmas day charts since no new movies open on Friday.  The lack of Friday openers is not a problem though- in the last ten days, nine movies have gone wide, so there will still be abundant business at the multiplex.

     All of the returning films should hold almost exactly where they performed last weekend, and a few might even see a bump in their weekend grosses.  National Treasure has got the top spot in the bag.  A $42 million weekend would give the Disney film a great $130 million overall.  Alvin and the Chipmunks (which just keeps making money!) and I Am Legend will be neck and neck for second place, each of them earning about $28 million, for totals of $140 million and $195 million, respectively.

     Among the newcomers, Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem should do the best.  The gory extra-terrestrial thriller was slaughtered by critics, but that didn’t stop super-enthusiastic fanboys from rushing out to see it on opening night.  On Tuesday, AVP:R opened with a terrific $9.5 million.  But then it crumbled to $4.4 million on Wednesday, and then all the way down to $2.9 million on Thursday,  This is a textbook case of a front-loaded geek movie, which starts strong and then falls fast.  The next three days will probably be smaller than AVP:R‘s first three days, and the Fox film should earn about $13 million, for a $30 million total.
     Teen pregnancy comedy, Juno, has done wonderfully for itself, and it has been picking up steam as it continues to expand.  Audiences love this movie.  This week, it added $9 million to its overall total gross for a sweet $15.4 million total, and it should add another $8-9 million this weekend, which would give the indie Fox Searchlight film a fabulous $23 million total.
     Walden Media and Sony’s, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep had an underwhelming opening week, earning just $7.6 million.  Judging by the ads, the children’s fantasy did look quite bland, but the reviews are actually very good.  Nonetheless, it should continue to perform disappointingly, and The Water Horse will pull in about $8 million for the weekend.

     The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington’s Oscar bait, has earned $7.2 million this week, with half of that total coming from its Christmas day gross.  While this is good for the small film, it appears that this film might be a bit front-loaded as well, which leaves me asking, could Oprah have fanboys?!  Reviews are good, but excitement is low for The Great Debaters, and it might rack up about $6.5 million.
Predicted Top 12 for December 28-30
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $42 million
2. I Am Legend – $28 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $27.5 million
4. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem – $13 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $10 million
6. Juno – $8.5 million
7. The Water Horse – $8 million
8. Sweeney Todd – $8 million
9. P.S. I Love You – $7.5 million
10. The Great Debaters – $6.5 million
11. Enchanted – $6 million
12. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – $4 million

Weekend Preview: National Treasure Should Strike Gold

December 21, 2007

     After two movies singlehandedly saved the box office last weekend, the latest crop of newcomers has a lot to live up to.  Luckily, this weekend, five extremely diverse wide releases hit theaters, offering something for every moviegoer.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets explodes onto the scene with rollicking adventure.  Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story brings some spoof comedy to the table.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street sings a few eerie show tunes.  Charlie Wilson’s War  provides some star-studded dramedy.  And P.S. I Love You fills the romantic comedy slot.  As if that wasn’t enough for you, another four films go wide on Christmas day!  That’s right, folks, we’ve officially reached the holiday season.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets should easily top the box office this weekend.  Back in 2005, the original National Treasure was a surprise juggernaut.  The film followed Nicholas Cage as a treasure hunter, who was on the hunt for a secret American treasure.  An adventure film for conspiracy theorists, the film was a ludicrous Da Vinci Code rip off, but it didn’t pretend to be anything else.  The Jerry Bruckheimer adventure was pure, popcorn-munching fun, and Disney marketed it perfectly.  After a good $35 million opening, it struck a chord with audiences, endured through the holiday season, and went on to gross a sensational $173 million.  A franchise was born.
     Book of Secrets sticks to the proven formula, pitting Nic Cage against a band villains in a race to find a “city of gold” that was hidden by America’s founding fathers.  Critics love to trash this kind of movie, and reviews (which won’t matter much for this movie) are equally mediocre to the original, but I have to admit, National Treasure is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  It’s got a great sense of humor, and though the plot is preposterous, it provides moviegoers with the main thing that they are seeking: FUN!  So many studios forget to advertise the fact that you will have fun if you go see their movie, but Disney, the best advertiser in the business, always sells this point.  Diane Kruger, Harvey Kietel, John Voight, Justin Bartha, and Helen Mirren all star in this swashbuckling installment, for which Disney is already planning subsequent sequels.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets should open bigger than the original, and it could outpace I Am Legend by the end of its run.  It’s opening in a massive 3,832 theaters, and it might earn a big $50 million over the weekend.

     Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, a movie produced by the on-fire Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad), is spoof of the musical biopic.  Starring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer, Walk Hard sends up Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan, among others.  Reviews are very good, and it’s exciting to see a true spoof movie- not simply a rehash of famous scenes, like the dreadful Epic/Date/Scary Movie.  I’m a bit concerned that Walk Hard could be too smart for its own good, for some of the ads make it somewhat hard to tell that this is a spoof, and that could confuse potential moviegoers.  However, the Apatow brand is absurdly strong, and he is really the main draw for this feature, so it should still perform well.  Playing in 2,650 venues, Sony’s Walk Hard might rock its way to a $14 million opening.

     Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in the fast-talking political comedy, Charlie Wilson’s War.  Set during the Cold War, Tom Hanks plays the title character, a womanizing, slick U.S. Senator who finds himself feeling suddenly convicted to improve the world.   He consequently convinces the CIA to train fighters in Afghanistan that will help fend off the Soviet Union. As a marketable concept, this is questionable.  War-themed movies like The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs, have failed at the box office lately, and the story is too complex to advertise effectively.  Universal is relying completely on star power from America’s favorite actor and actress to carry Charlie Wilson’s War to success.  Much like last year’s The Good Shepherd, this plays to an older audience, and while its opening might be smaller, it should have great legs.  Reviews are pretty good, and it’s garnered some awards attention, which will help its business substantially.  Still, though, with exciting choices like I Am Legend and National Treasure: Book of Secrets playing, it could be easy to overlook Charlie Wilson’s War.  In 2,574 theaters, it should earn about $14 million this weekend.

     Sweeney Todd is the latest film from Tim Burton, so it should come as no surprise that it stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, who seem to star in every Burton project these days.  Sweeney Todd is a strange story about a man named Benjamin Barker who escapes from prison and takes on the identity of Sweeney Todd.  He does this to exact revenge on the judge who originally imprisoned him, and he kills many people in this grisly revenge movie.  What makes all this even more interesting is that Sweeney Todd is a full musical, adapted from the stage show by Stephen Sondheim.  Full of creepy, macabre music and fine acting performances, critics are hailing Burton’s direction, and the film has received wonderful reviews.  Sweeney Todd is opening in just 1,249 theaters, but advertising has been strong, and Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have a built-in fan base.  This should result in a very solid per theater average and $13 million weekend.

     The final new wide release of the weekend is P.S. I Love You, a romantic comedy starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.  Swank plays a woman whose husband (Butler) has just passed away.  As it turns out, her husband knew he was dying and left her a series of letters to help her transition out of her grief and back into life.  Though the concept is sweet, Hillary Swank isn’t the right woman for this kind of role.  She lacks the cute, girly factor that is so necessary in a romantic comedy, and after Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry, it’s tough for audiences to accept her outside of strong, dramatic roles.  On top of this, there simply isn’t very much excitement for this film, and reviews are very bad.  Produced by Warner Brothers, P.S. I Love You is being released in 2,454 theaters, and it should earn about $7 million over the next three days.
     Among the returning films, I Am Legend should place second.  It’s shown decreasing grosses during its weekdays, which signifies a rather large drop for this weekend.  A 55% drop would give it $34 million for the weekend and a marvelous $136 million overall.  Alvin and the Chipmunks should hold better because of its family-friendly nature.  As sad as it makes me, Alvin might pull in an additional $26 million this weekend, for an $81 million total.  After multiple award nominations in almost every circle of critics, Juno and Atonement both expand into about 300 theaters this weekend.  They should each see their weekend grosses increase to about $3.6 million and $3 million, respectively.
Predicted Top 12 for December 21-23
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $50 million
2. I Am Legend – $34 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $26 million
4. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – $14 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $13 million
6. Sweeney Todd – $12 million
7. P.S. I Love You – $7 million
8. The Golden Compass – $4.5 million
9. Enchanted – $3.8 million
10. Juno – $3.6 million
11. Atonement – $3 million
12. No Country For Old Men – $2.3 million

Weekend Fix: A Truly Legendary Weekend

December 17, 2007

     What a weekend it was at the movies!  It’s hard to believe that the box office has been in a drought for the past few weeks, but it’s even harder to believe the flood of money that rained down over the past three days.  The number one movie alone grossed more than last week’s entire Top 12!  I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks had absolutely incredible starts this weekend, leading the Top 12 to earn a fantastic $151.9 million!  That means that the December 14-16 frame was saw a massive 109% increase over last weekend’s dismal total, and a great 36% increase from the same weekend last year, when Will Smith again led the box office with The Pursuit of Happyness, proving that among leading actors, his appeal is unmatched.

     I Am Legend lived up to its title this weekend, setting a new record for the best December opening of all time with a stunning $77.2 million debut.  This previous record holder, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, earned $72.6 million back in 2003, and no one thought that number was in any danger this weekend, but Will Smith came through in a huge way.  In a marketplace filled with old family films, lackluster thrillers, and Oscar bait, it looks like moviegoers were hungry for a good, old-fashioned popcorn movie, led by everyone’s favorite action star.  (Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of just how successful Will Smith’s career has been.)  The zombie action-fest had an awesome $21,411 per theater average, which assures huge bankability well into January.  This is going to be a massive cash cow for the folks at Warner Brothers, who must be giddy with these results.  You have to hand it to the studio, though.  They advertised the hell out of this movie, and they built excitement perfectly, so it’s great to see I Am Legend open so fantastically.  

     In what may be an even more surprising story, Alvin and the Chipmunks had a massive opening weekend, grossing a terrific $44.3 million for Fox.  As to why Fox (who also made Garfield…) decided to revive this old 60’s cartoon, I have no clue, but I guess it was a good move on their part.  I think studios were afraid to put anything up against The Golden Compass, which most everyone expected to be a gigantic family event.  However, The Golden Compass (which totes a PG-13 rating and negative controversy) scared away most families, leaving Alvin to face up against the last new family film, Enchanted, which is now four weeks old.  Families were ready for some lighthearted fair to take their kids too, especially now that children are going on break, and with little competition, Alvin and the Chipmunks was the go-to choice.  Terrible reviews didn’t affect Alvin‘s opening, and it nabbed a very strong $12,750 per theater average.  Because kids are out of school, family films play very well over the next few weeks, and Alvin and the Chipmunks (which cost $70 million to make) is guaranteed at least $100 million overall…. (Sigh) I swear, if this performance spawns a CGI adaptation of the Smurfs, may God have mercy on us all.
     The Golden Compass fell hard in its second weekend.  The $180 million fantasy epic dropped an alarming 66% in its second weekend, earning only $8.8 million.  Since it’s playing in so many theaters, it’s per theater average was a tepid $2,501.  This is nothing short of a disaster for New Line, who might not even earn back a third of the production budget.  Normally, healthy international receipts could make up for a disappointing domestic performance, but New Line sold away the international rights on this one.  This is quickly becoming one of the biggest flops in history, and its extremely doubtful the other two parts of this trilogy will ever be produced.  After ten days, The Golden Compass has earned an awful $40.8 million.
     Enchanted, facing competition from a trio of rodents, fell 48% to $5.5 million, which is a slightly larger than expected drop.  Enchanted has been a solid performer for the past four weekends, and it should still add a good deal more profit over the holidays.  It looks headed for a $110-120 million finish, which should leave Disney very happy.  So far, Enchanted has made $91.8 million.

  Riding on the buzz of four Golden Globe nominations, No Country For Old Men made $2.8 million this weekend, a small 31% drop.  This Miramax feature is holding its own quite nicely, and with many more nominations and awards in its future, it should hold up very well all the way through awards season.  After six weekends, No Country For Old Men has earned a great $33.4 million.
     The Perfect Holiday had a disappointing sixth place debut.  The Christmas film starring Queen Latifah, Gabrielle Union, and Terrence Howard was dead on arrival, grossing a wimpy $2.3 million in its opening frame.  Although the Yari Film Group released it to a small number of theaters, its per theater average was still very weak at $1,747.  Perhaps there wasn’t room for two Christmas movies centered on black families this December.
     This Christmas, which incurred direct competition from The Perfect Holiday, dropped 54% to $2.3 million.  This drop is a bit large as we near Christmas, but no one at ScreenGems is worried- This Christmas has already earned a surprisingly good $46 million in four weekends.
     In eighth place, Fred Claus added another $2.2 million to its total.  Fred may be Santa’s younger brother, but the film is definitely starting to show its age.  In its sixth weekend, the Warner Brothers’ film could only muster up a $807 per theater average, and I’m certain that almost every theater that is still playing this film will drop it directly after Christmas Day.  It’s done alright for itself, though, having earned $68.9 million overall.

     Atonement, after garnering more Golden Globe nominations than any other film, earned $1.9 million this weekend.  Only playing in 117 theaters, Atonement had a fantastic venue average of $15,443, which assures further expansions.  A virtual lock for an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Atonement has earned $2.9 million in two weekends, but its run is far from over.
     August Rush made another $1.8 million this weekend, good enough for tenth place.  The Warner Brothers feature has grossed $28 million after four weekends.
     The Fox Searchlight film Juno showed its massive potential this weekend, grossing $1.4 million from just 40 theaters.  Juno had a superb per theater average of $35,686, and I’m expecting big things from it over the rest of the holiday season.  Juno, which also got some nominations this week, has made $2.1 million so far, and it will expand nationwide on Christmas.
     Rounding out the Top 12 is Beowulf, which lost almost half of its theaters and dropped 70% to $1.4 million.  With $79.3 million after five weekends, Beowulf will finish just over $80 million.  That might at first seem like a good figure, but given it’s $150 million budget, this is fairly disappointing.
     Overall, the box office was back in full swing,  although there was still not much depth, seeing as the top two films made up about 75% of the Top 12 total.  Next week, things should really pick up, though, as five new films open wide.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Charlie Wilson’s War, P.S. I Love You, Sweeney Todd, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story will finally add the necessary depth that has been so lacking lately, and there won’t be so many $1-2 million earners in the Top 12.  There’s going to be some big business next weekend, but will it be Legendary?  Check back on Friday for the Weekend Preview.
Top Twelve for December 14-16
1. I Am Legend – $77.2 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $44.3 million
3. The Golden Compass – $8.8 million
4. Enchanted – $5.5 million
5. No Country For Old Men – $2.8 million
6. The Perfect Holiday – $2.3 million
7. This Christmas – $2.3 million
8. Fred Claus – $2.2 million
9. Atonement – $1.8 million
10. August Rush – $1.8 million
11. Juno – $1.4 million
12. Beowulf – $1.4 million

Friday Estimates: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way To Make Money

December 15, 2007

     Wait, is this really happening?  Am I about to report some pretty good news about the box office?  It’s been weeks since I could honestly do that!  But, it looks like Christmas has come early for the box office this year, and it received the gift of some big business over Friday, December 14.

     I Am Legend earned a stunning $29.5 million in its first day of release!  Will Smith can add another notch to his belt of an already phenomenal career.  I Am Legend will become his fifth $50+ million opening, and his eleventh $100+ million earner.  It’s going to blow past my prediction (and the industry’s) and earn about $70-80 million this weekend.  It looks like audiences were hungry for some action and spectacle in a tired, weak marketplace.  I could shed a tear I’m so happy for the movie industry.
     Oh wait, I take that back.  What I meant to say is I could shed a tear I’m so sad for the movie industry.  Much to my chagrin, Alvin and the Chipmunks had a great Friday gross as well.  The adaptation of the 60’s cartoon earned itself $13.3 million yesterday, which means it will also shatter expectations substantially.  Look for a (shudder) $40 million weekend.  I can’t believe an animated chipmunk movie is going to crush The Golden Compass at the box office…
     After these movies, though, the rest of the box office remained in pretty terrible shape, especially last week’s champ.  The Golden Compass fell hard this weekend, dropping a huge 68% from last weekend, only mustering up $2.6 million on Friday.  Someone’s losing their job at New Line.
    Also, Atonement and Juno made the top 12 yesterday in only 117 and 40 theaters, respectively!  This is the power of award nominations and positive buzz at work.
Friday Estimates for December 14
1. I Am Legend – $29.5 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $13.3 million
3. The Golden Compass – $2.6 million
4. Enchanted – $1.6 million
5. No Country For Old Men – $850,000
6. This Christmas – $750,000
7. Fred Claus – $720,000
8. The Perfect Holiday – $700,000
9. August Rush – $550,000
10. Atonement – $540,000
11. Awake – $410,000
12. Beowulf – $400,000
12. Atonement – $400,000

Weekend Preview: Will I Am Legend Be Legendary?

December 15, 2007

     If you’re reading this right now, take a moment and thank Will Smith for being such a great movie star.  Few stars engage the public, choose great film vehicles, and wield box office muscle like he does, and he should rescue the box office from the mire it has been in over the next three days.  Things should pick up a good deal this weekend at the box office, with three new releases and the increasing business of the holiday season.  I Am Legend, one of the few spectacle films of the Winter, should top the charts with no difficulty at all.  Alvin and the Chipmunks could do some fair business, but things look grim for The Perfect Holiday.

     Will Smith stars in the apocalyptic thriller I Am Legend, which (along with National Treasure: Book of Secrets) seems to be a sure bet for success.  I Am Legend is an apocalyptic thriller of sorts, in which Will Smith is the last man left on earth.  Ads have slowly revealed more about the plot, and it is now clear that this is a horror/action movie, with copious amounts of plagued zombies.  The trailer for this movie was just fantastic, and there has been steadily building excitement for the thriller all year long.  Will Smith is one of the most bankable stars in the business, and people flock to see his movies each year.  Reviews are mixed, but good enough to assure solid word-of-mouth.  Released by Warner Brothers, I Am Legend opens in a very wide 3,606 theaters, and it should earn itself about $52 million this weekend.

     Alvin and the Chipmunks, a Fox feature, is a movie that looks so childish, so unfunny, so cheap, so unabashedly awful, that I’d rather not talk about it.  It’s a movie that makes me say, “Why?  Why did Garfield have to make $75 million back in 2004 and justify this film’s existence?”  However, I do write a blog about the movies, and it’s my job to inform you, so here goes:  Jason Lee stars in this send up of the small screen critters, which are here rendered with a very fake looking CGI technique, in a way similar to the Scooby Doo movies.  Unfortunately, Alvin and the Chipmunks aren’t really classic enough characters for this to be as big a success as Scooby Doo was.  Reviews are awful, but families journey to the multiplex in mass quantities during the holidays, and if they’ll settle for Fred Claus, they’ll settle for this load.  The sheer venue count of 3,475 theaters will give this movie an alright weekend, and it should bring in about $17 million.

     The last new film is The Perfect Holiday, which actually opened on Wednesday this week.  The Perfect Holiday features a mostly black cast, including Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union, and it is hoping to attain some of the success This Christmas has found already this season.  A romatic comedy about a single mother framed around the Christmas season, The Perfect Holiday‘s story looks pretty generic, and reviews are bad.  In 1,306 theaters, the film has already played for two days, but has pulled in a measly $646,000, which means that the Yari Film Group project is destined for a $2 million weekend, which is far from Perfect.
     Among holdovers, The Golden Compass should fall about 50% to $13 million, which New Line probably hoped the fantasy flick would see in its third or fourth weekend.  That would give The Golden Compass $45 million overall.  Enchanted should fall about 35% again to $7 million, for a $93 million total, well on it’s way to the century club.  No Country For Old Men garnered itself some major awards attention from the Golden Globes, so it should hold very well, earning another $3.9 million this weekend, for a $34.5 million total.
Predicted Top Twelve for December 14-16
1. I Am Legend – $52 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $17 million
3. The Golden Compass – $13 million
4. Enchanted – $7 million
5. No Country For Old Men – $3.9 million
6. Fred Claus – $3.6 million
7. This Christmas – $3.5 million
8. August Rush – $2.5 million
9. Beowulf – $2.4 million
10. The Perfect Holiday – $2 million
11. Hitman – $1.9 million
12. Awake – $1.8 million