Archive for the ‘December 14-16’ Category

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
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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