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