Archive for the ‘Four Christmases’ Category

7 Movies With Fantastically Strategic Release Dates

February 10, 2010

Currently, I feel sandwiched between two weekends that boast wisely placed movies on the box office calendar.  We’re hot on the heels of Dear John‘s fantastic debut, which was lifted by its brilliant counter-programmed Super Bowl release date, and this coming weekend, Valentine’s Day will surely find strong numbers, thanks to the fact that Sunday is Valentine’s Day.  What I want you to take away from this post is that release dates matter a lot.  The American public likes gimmicky release schedules, and when a movie’s title and/or release date give people an obvious choice of which movie to see, it often pays off in spades.  Thus, because it is List Wednesday, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the smartest release dates in recent history, all of which directly led to solid box office results. But that’s enough talking from me- go ahead and check out these seven movies with great release dates, and then let me know what movies you thought had great release dates in the comments!

The Omen (06/06/06)

A movie about the devil! 666! The devil’s number! WOW, that is just so clever! I have to go see this! Sadly, that really was the train of though for many moviegoers. Kudos to Fox for pumping up the release gimmick effectively.  The Omen opened to $12.6 million on a Tuesday (at the time, Fox boasted that they had achieved the best Tuesday opening ever… a dubious distinction) on its way to $54.5 million. Pretty good for a pretty bad horror flick.

Four Christmases (11/26/08)

I wish every Christmas movie would follow the model set by Four Christmases.  Open directly after Thanksgiving and plow through a month of solid box office results.  Four Christmases was just a silly romantic comedy, but it earned a great $118 million during its run.  I wonder how much bigger A Christmas Carol could have been if it had opened closer to, I dunno, Christmas!  (I warned you)

Independence Day (07/03/96)

In 1996, July 4th fell on a Thursday, so Fox wisely took the opportunity to open this Will Smith blockbuster on Wednesday the 3rd.  The result? $45 million in two days of ticket sales, followed by a tremendous $50.2 million weekend.  The July 4th weekend was officially signed over to Will Smith later that month.

The Devil Wears Prada (06/30/06)

Another case of counter programming at its finest. Back in 2006, The Devil Wears Prada decided to open directly against the ├╝ber-hyped Superman reboot.  Hoping to attract the disinterested female audience, Fox (who is proving they know how to release movies well) was bold to go head to head with the man of steel.  Many were sure that the fashion film would get lost in the shuffle, but Prada silenced the doubters, opening to a robust $27.5 million (vs. Superman‘s $52.5 million) on its way $124.7 million.

Saw and Saw II (10/29/04 and 10/28/05)

The one-two punch of the innovative Saw movies (in plot, not in gruesomeness) over Halloween weekend in 2004 ($18.3 million opening, $55 million total) and 2005 ($31.7 million opening, $87 million total) helped fortify a robust franchise for Lionsgate, which framed Saw III, IV, and V as the go-to event films of the next few Halloween weekends. Unfortunately for Lionsagate, Paranormal Activity stole all of Saw VI‘s thunder, and now, Saw 3D and Paranormal Activity 2 are both eyeing the lucrative Halloween weekend release date for this year.

The Passion Of The Christ (02/25/04)

Here’s a film whose opening weekend wasn’t the reason it blew up (controversy took care of that), but it placed the film in such a way that theater owners didn’t want to take it out of theaters for a good while.  Easter fell on April 11th that year, and every knew that a movie about Jesus would do well over that frame, which is why The Passion was still playing in 3,240 theaters during that, its seventh, weekend.  The film came in first place that weekend with $15 million, and then fell all the way down to tenth the very next, earning $4 million.  Newmarket wisely ensure Mel Gibson’s religious film would play in theaters for quite a while with their strategic release date.

50 First Dates (02/13/04)

Sony knew they had a solidly marketable romantic comedy with two widely appealing leads, and they probably knew it could perform solidly.  They took things to the next level, though, by releasing it over Valentine’s Day weekend, making it clear the choice for all couples.  After a good $10 million Friday, 50 First Dates shot way up $19.8 million on Valentine’s Day, a figure which accounted for almost half of the films $39.9 million debut, which set it up for a nice $120.9 million run.  Sony learned from their success and opened Hitch a few days before Valentine’s Day in 2005.  Hitch opened to $43 million before trucking along all the way to $179 million.

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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?

Weekend Fix: The Day The Earth Stood Still Leads, Four Christmases Holds, And Delgo Is Nowhere To Be Found

December 14, 2008

It was a slow weekend at the box office this week, and without powerhouse openers like I Am Legend and Alvin and The Chipmunks, the Top 12 Films grossed an estimated $83,309,552, down a hefty 45% from last year’s Top 12. The Day The Earth Stood Still was a victim of high expectations, while Nothing Like The Holidays simply peformed poorly, and Delgo flopped hard (it only earned $915,840).

The real stars of the frame were holdovers Four Christmases, Twilight, and Bolt, which dropped 21%, 39%, and 23%, respectively. And despite the relatively small weekend, I’m optimistic about the remainder of the holiday season; after all, Will Smith and Adam Sandler (the two most consistent draws in Hollywood) are on their way! Here are the weekend’s results:


Top 12 Actuals for December 12-14

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 The Day The Earth Stood Still $30,480,153 $30,480,153
2 Four Christmases $13,074,470 $87,775,974
3 Twilight $7,951,131 $150,045,826
4 Bolt $7,464,282 $88,849,005
5 Australia $4,169,277 $37,767,253
6 Quantum of Solace $3,715,522 $157,583,232
7 Nothing Like The Holidays $3,531,664 $3,531,664
8 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $3,181,231 $169,937,394
9 Milk $2,598,638 $7,590,976
10 Transporter 3 $2,351,229 $29,377,088
11 Slumdog MIllionaire $2,175,518 $8,048,764
12 Cadillac Records $1,585,407 $5,909,492

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Friday Estimates: Keanu Reeves Is Not Will Smith, And Delgo Crashes And Burns.

December 13, 2008

Wow. There’s not much good news to report about this Friday’s numbers. The Day The Earth Stood Still had an alright first day of $12.2 million. Since fanboys probably make up a large percentage of that audience, I’m not foreseeing a great multiplier here. Give the Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly starrer $32 million for the weekend. Nothing Like The Holidays, a family Christmas movie starring Debra Messing, Alfred Molina, and Freddy Rodriguez (among others) had a first day of $1.2 million, which should give it about $4 million for the weekend. And then there was Delgo… In all my years of researching the box office, I don’t know if I can remember a movie doing this poorly… not even Hoot). Delgo had a pitiful first day of just $130,000, good for a venue average of only $60!!! That result is so bad, I don’t even know how to articulate it to you all. Here are the rest of the results:

Friday numbers for December 12, 2008:
1. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $12.2 million
2. Four Christmases – $4.2 million
3. Twilight – $2.7 million
4. Bolt – $1.7 million
5. Australia – $1.3 million
6. Nothing Like The Holidays – $1.2 million
7. Quantum of Solace – $1.1 million
8. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $710,000
9. Milk – $710,000
10. Transporter 3 – $660,000
11. Slumdog Millionaire – $560,000
12. Role Models – $50,000
— Delgo – $130,000

What do you all think of these results?

Weekend Preview: Will The Day The Earth Stood Still Be I Am Legend v. 2.0?

December 12, 2008

This weekend we get a special-effects-driven sci-fi remake starring Keanu Reeves (The Day The Earth Stood Still), a Christmas dramedy (Home For The Holidays), and an ill-conceived computer animation film about an alienish monster (Delgo). Overall, the box office should remain in decent shape, with TDTESS on top and holdovers doing most of the heavy lifting.

This year it seems like each of the opening films is trying to be 2008’s version of other formerly successful December titles. The Day The Earth Stood Still is trying to be 2008’s I Am Legend. A little bit less ambitious, Nothing Like The Holidays is hoping to find the success of 2006’s The Family Stone. And Delgo would settle for even a scrap of Happy Feet or Alvin and the Chipmunks‘ receipts. But will any of these films achieve the heights of their predecessors? Probably not.

Here’s the forecast for the weekend of December 12-14, 2008:

1. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $49 million
2. Four Christmases – $12.1 million
3. Twilight – $7.3 million
4. Bolt – $7 million
5. Nothing Like The Holidays – $6.8 million
6. Australia – $4.3 million
7. Delgo – $4.2 million
8. Quantum of Solace – $3.9 million
9. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $3.3 million
10. Transporter 3 – $2.8 million
11. Milk – $2.4 million
12. Punisher: War Zone – $2.2 million
13. Cadillac Records – $2.2 million
14. Slumdog Millionaire – $1.9 million