Archive for the ‘December 19-21’ Category

Weekend Fix: Audiences Say "Eh" Instead of "Yes" To New Releases

December 21, 2008

In the final frame before Christmas this year, the box office was in sorry shape. With a lackluster slate of new releases that failed to take full advantage of the holiday, and snow storms across the Northeast, the Top 12 raked in just $82 million, down a whopping 45% from the same weekend a year ago. Yes Man topped the charts, with Seven Pounds and The Tale Of Despereaux following in second and third, but all three of the new releases failed to really break out.

Jim Carrey’s antic-laden comedy, Yes Man, earned $18 million this weekend at the multiplex. Considering 2007 saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets debut to $44 million during the same weekend last December, this is not a great result. With poor reviews and a tired concept, Yes Man failed to provide audiences with something new, and it paid the price. Yes Man looked like a 1990’s comedy, and with its underwhelming debut, people made it very clear that they currently prefer the Apatow-style of comedy, which is fast-paced and raunchy, but soulful. The Warner Brothers release had a $5,288 per theater average, which is mediocre for a new release, but all is not lost for Yes Man. The silver lining here is that we are in late December, where every day acts like a weekend day, so the comedy should be leggier than most, but this still has to be a disappointment for both the studio and Carrey, who needs to pursue more dramatic roles, like in The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind. Personally, I’m excited for his role in 2010’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

Seven Pounds, the Sony-produced Will Smith drama, sputtered out of the gates, earning just $16 million in its first three days. Earning an alright $5,801 per theater, Seven Pounds actually had the highest venue average in the Top 12, which shows how weak the frame was overall. The big problem here was in the advertising. From the trailer and commercials, it was almost impossible to figure out what this movie was about, which is never a good strategy for promoting a film. The bad reviews didn’t help things, either. The real loser in this equation, though, has got to be Will Smith, who was hoping for his 9th $100 million earner with Seven Pounds. Up until this point, Smith was untouchable among stars. Unfortunately, with a $16 million dollar opening, this probably won’t stick around nearly as long as December 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness ($163 million finish) or December 2007’s I Am Legend ($256 million finish). It could be that Smith’s recent donations to the Church of Scientology (oxymoron?) are having a Tom Cruise Effect on his career. All I have to say is, “Don’t become crazy, Will!”

The final new release this weekend was The Tale Of Despereaux, which opened to $10.5 million. The Universal film about a gallant mouse got middling reviews, and proved for the umpteenth time that releasing an animated movie is a task best left to Dreamworks or Disney. It seems like whenever a studio (that is not Pixar) tries to release a detailed, realistic-looking animated film, it doesn’t work out at the box office. Films like Ice Age, Madagascar, or Open Season, which have zanier, exaggerated animation, tend to do better. Despereaux had a disappointing per theater average of $3,810, and I fully expect it to get left in the dust when Disney’s Bedtime Stories debuts on Christmas Day.

Among holdovers, drops were a bit steeper than expected, mostly due to the snow storms across the Northeast (and as someone who was in Connecticut during the snow storms, I can attest: there was a lot of snow). Fox’s sci-fi actioner, The Day The Earth Stood Still, nosedived 67% this weekend, earning $10 million for a $48.6 million total. This is yet another case of The Fanboy Effect. Warner Brothers’ well-performing Four Christmases fell 41% to $7.7 million as it crossed the $100 million mark, while Summit’s Twilight continued to show it’s resilience, as it’s 34% drop was the smallest in the Top 12. It earned an additional $5.2 million for a fantastic $158.4 million total.

Disney’s Bolt fell 43% to $4.3 million, as it inches its way closer to the $100 million plateau. The animated dog feature has performed admirably over the past few weeks, and it currently sits with $95 million. Not so lucky was Fox’s Australia, the overblown epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Down 44% to $2.3 million, the insanely expensive Baz Luhrmann film has a disappointing total of just $41 million. At the bottom tier of the Top 12, Quantum of Solace fell 42% to $2.1 million, Milk dropped 37% to $1.6 million, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa declined 53% to $1.5 million. Totals are $161.3 million, $10.3 million, and $172.3 million, respectively.

Up above, I skipped over the one real bright spot of the weekend: Slumdog Millionaire. The Fox Searchlight feature, which audiences and critics are loving, expanded into 589 theaters and earned $3.2 million over the weekend. This was good for a venue average of $5,388, the second-best in the Top 12. The most palatable of this year’s Oscar bait, Slumdog Millionaire has already earned $12 million, and with many awards on the way, look for the Danny Boyle film to keep chugging right along for the next few weeks.

Next weekend brings us seven new wide releases: Amusement, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, Revolutionary Road, Spirit, and Valkyrie. These releases should bring a much-needed dose of flavor to the movies, which will hopefully redeem the performances this weekend. Regardless, with that many new films, things should be interesting… Here’s the chart:

Top 12 for December 19-21

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 Yes Man $18,160,000 $18,160,000
2 Seven Pounds $16,000,000 $16,000,000
3 The Tale of Despereaux $10,507,040 $10,507,040
4 The Day The Earth Stood Still $10,150,000 $48,626,884
5 Four Christmases $7,745,000 $100,154,000
6 Twilight $5,227,000 $158,460,899
7 Bolt $4,256,000 $95,009,000
8 Slumdog Millionaire $3,150,000 $12,133,750
9 Australia $2,325,000 $41,947,337
10 Quantum Of Solace $2,150,000 $161,290,000
11 Milk $1,641,290 $10,322,173
12 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $1,510,000 $173,332,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

What do you think of this weekend’s box office? What went wrong? Do you think things will pick up next weekend? Write your answers in the comments!

Friday Estimates: I Got It Right(ish)!

December 20, 2008

I’m going to gloat a little bit. I was pretty darn close in my predictions for the weekend (except for Despereaux…), and I’m a little bit proud of myself. Take that Entertainment Weekly! Look’s like my little operation here at The Box Office Junkie was a heck of a lot more accurate than yours! To be fair, though, everyone everywhere overestimated. Bragging aside, it’s looking like Yes Man will take in about $18 million, Seven Pounds may find $16 million, and The Tale of Despereaux $11 million. Here are numbers for Friday:

Friday Estimates for December 19
1. Yes Man – $6.5 million
2. Seven Pounds – $5.3 million
3. The Tale Of Despereaux – $3.5 million
4. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $2.9 million
5. Four Christmases – $2.3 million
6. Twilight – $1.6 million
7. Bolt – $1 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire – $755,000
9. Austrailia – $625,000
10. Quantum Of Solace – $565,000
11. Milk – $425,000
12. Nothing Like The Holidays – $360,000

Weekend Preview: Jim Carrey vs. Will Smith In A Bipolar Box Office Frame

December 18, 2008

This weekend, the holiday season is officially here, and studios are hoping that with kids out of school, and parents off from work, the movies can rake in some serious cash. Timing wise, there’s no better space on the calendar to take advantage of the public’s holiday freedom. Last year, we had National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Enchanted, and I Am Legend all riding very high on their way to profitability So here’s my question: On one of the biggest weekends of the entire year, is this really the best Hollywood could do? Opening this Friday, we have the Jim Carrey screwball comedy, Yes Man, the Will Smith sobfest, Seven Pounds, and another CG animated film, The Tale Of Despereaux. Really, the battle is between Yes Man and Seven Pounds, as this weekend’s main offerings hit the two extremes of mainstream movie tastes. Although both films are headlined by established box office stars, thematically, they couldn’t be more different.

Warner Brothers’ Yes Man sees Jim Carrey in the kind of role that made him famous. That means over-the-top, exaggerated facial gestures, crazy voices, and general absurdity to boot. Yes Man is about a man who only says, “Yes,” and the way that that liberating mentality eventually becomes a hindrance. Sound familiar? Liar, Liar comes to mind… I’m not sure that audiences still love this version of Jim Carrey. His work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show showed he’s a versatile actor, but after straying a bit too far from his own persona in this years awful The Number 23, perhaps Carrey wanted to get back to his initial bread n’ butter. In the last few years, however, comedies have become much more fast-paced, quick-witted affairs, with snappy dialogue and wry humor. I don’t know that Ace Ventura would necessarily work in today’s marketplace, and that’s the problem with Yes Man. It doesn’t seem fresh; it seems like a retread. The reviews aren’t great at all, but it does stand out amongst all the Oscar dreck, and the lighthearted Jim Carrey film should find an audience. Opening in 3,434 theaters, look for Yes Man to pull in $18 million.

On the other side of the spectrum is Sony’s Seven Pounds, a dramatic film starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson that hopes to capture the same success as 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. The subject of this film has been exceedingly difficult to gather from the advertisements, which work hard to sell the film on Will Smith, rather than the convoluted premise. The official synopsis reads: “In the film, Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.” Not giving audiences a clear idea of the story is never a good idea, and I think Seven Pounds will ultimately pay for that. Still, Will Smith is a proven draw at the box office, and I expect that his latest inspirational drama will manage to pull in solid crowds throughout the holiday season. But Seven Pounds is not going over to well with critics, which diminishes much of its long term potential, and the story doesn’t look particularly uplifting- just very dour. I don’t see this matching The Pursuit of Happyness‘ $163 million run, and maybe not even The Bucket List‘s (a similarly-schmaltzy film) $93 million. Will Smith’s name will draw in viewers, though, and from 2,758 theaters, Seven Pounds might earn $17 million as well.

The final new wide release this weekend is Universal’s The Tale Of Despereaux, a computer-generated animated film about a heroic mouse’s adventures. I’m going to be frank. As long as the world is spoiled by the perfection that is Pixar, all other animated films will simply pale in comparison, both in the visuals and in the story. Despereaux doesn’t look to have too much going for it, other than being cute, but very few people know about the source material, and reviews are bad. Debuting in 3,104 theaters, I’m only seeing a $6 million weekend. Let’s just hope it doesn’t pull a Delgo

I know I must sound terribly Scrooge-like today, but I have to wonder how this weekend’s slate ended up at this. None of these films is a surefire, family-friendly tentpole release. I just cant wrap my mind around why Disney didn’t bump Bedtime Stories up to this weekend, or maybe they could have waited to release High School Musical 3 in December, so they could cash in on this lucrative season. I guess it’s no use crying over spilled egg nog, though, so I digress. Holdovers should be relatively soft, though former chart-topper The Day The Earth Stood Still might nonetheless see a 50% drop. Four Christmases should do well, and other family films should have the smallest drops in the Top 12. Also of note, Oscar-lock Slumdog Millionaire expands into 589 theaters this weekend, and it should find some success in doing so. Here are my predictions for the frame:

Predicted Top 12 For December 19-21
1. Yes Man – $18 million
2. Seven Pounds – $17 million
3. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $14 million
4. Four Christmases – $10 million
5. The Tale Of Despereaux – $6 million
6. Bolt – $5.7 million
7. Twilight – $5.5 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire – $3.3 million
9. Australia – $2.8 million
10. Quantum Of Solace – $2.6 million
11. Milk – $2.6 million
12. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $2.1 million

What about you? What are your predictions?