Four new films opened this weekend. Two did quite well, but two did quite poorly. In the end, though, the box office this weekend was very healthy for January, which is usually a tragic month in terms of dollars. The Top 12 films earned a nice $108.8 million, which represents an understandable 35% drop from last weekend, when many kids had not yet gone back to school. Year to year, however, things looked much brighter, as the Top 12 were up 12% from last year’s frame, when dance drama Stomp The Yard led the charts with $21.8 million.
Debuting in the top spot, The Bucket List reaffirmed that when it comes to the box office, going by the formula can be a good choice. With a feel-good concept, an easily understood (and advertised) story, and some true blue film stars, The Bucket List was full of life, earning $19.5 million over the weekend. The film’s entire advertising campaign was based around its two leading men, and in this case, the strategy proved very effective because these two men are movie stars, and not just celebrities. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson are famous because of their film work- not because of tabloid fodder, and because of this, they can successfully open a film. Consequently, stars like Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, and Angelina Jolie are inconsistent at the box office because people care more about their personal lives than their acting skills. For The Bucket List, moviegoers flocked to the theaters to watch Freeman and Nicholson interact, and there are very few actors who still have that kind of drawing power. The Warner Brothers buddy comedy had a good, though unspectacular, venue average of $6,750. Reviews largely criticize the film for being too schmaltzy, but audiences love cheesy, feel-good tearjerkers, and this could have some pretty good legs. Based on the opening, I’m thinking The Bucket List might end its run around $80 million, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.
In second place, First Sunday opened with a very good $19 million, proving for the umpteenth time that the African American market is lucrative and underutilized by Hollywood. The ScreenGems film starring Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan had a great $8,586 per theater average, which was the best in the Top 12. Bad reviews didn’t have an effect on First Sunday‘s opening, and since it was targeted a young audience, their negative effect should be minimal; however, this is not to say it will endure for very long. Movies that target African American audiences tend to have horrible legs at the box office, and I’m expecting this to top off at about $50 million, which would still represent a respectable total.
Indie darling Juno came in at third. The Ellen Page comedy that won no Golden Globes(!) pulled in a sturdy $14 million this weekend, giving it $71.2 million overall. This total means that Juno is just $0.3 million away from passing Sideways as Fox Searchlight’s highest grossing film ever, and it should earn that title on Monday. Though Juno expanded into 2,448 theaters this weekend, it dropped 12% from the last frame, but this is nothing to worry about. In its sixth weekend, it still managed a very good $5,719 venue average, and the teen pregnancy comedy has a lot of life left in it. According to last week’s poll, 20% of you think that Juno will not break $100 million, but I’m going to have to say that you are sorely incorrect. It seems headed for a $120+ million finish.
In fourth, fifth, and sixth, we have the big three holiday films that have dominated the box office (and this blog) for weeks. Down 43% from last weekend, Disney’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets found another $11.5 million, giving it a strong $187.3 million after four weekends. Meanwhile, Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks fell 41% to $9.1 million, which gives the rodent comedy a $187.7 million total after five weeks. Also in its fifth weekend, Warner Brothers’ I Am Legend pulled in $8.1 million, a 48% drop. With $240.2 million overall, I Am Legend is set to become Will Smith’s second-highest grossing film behind Independence Day ($306 million).
In its second weekend, One Missed Call behaved exactly like most other derivative horror movies, dropping a large 51% to $6.1 million. This drop was the steepest in the Top 12, which is not surprising given the reviews (it 0/53 with critics!). The Warner Brothers film had a weak $2,737 per theater average, and it will disappear from theaters and memories in the very near future. After two weeks, One Missed Call has earned $20.6 million.
You know how I said that tearjerkers have great legs at the box office? P.S. I Love You is a prime example of this. The weapy Hilary Swank romance earned $5 million this weekend, down just 36% from the previous frame. Its venue average of $2,155 is nothing to get excited about, but this is a Warner Brothers film that has done very well for itself. After opening with an awful $6.5 million, P.S. I Love You has really caught on with audiences, for when it comes to romantic movies, reviews often don’t line up with the collective consciousness (case in point: The Notebook). After four weekends, it’s pulled in a very solid $47 million.
Back in ninth place, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything opened poorly with just $4.4 million. With a low theater count of 1,337, and a low per theater average of $3,305, the VeggieTales picture will certainly finish below Jonah’s $25.5 million total, and it won’t last in theaters for long. This is a disappointing start for the Universal film.
Atonement expanded into 950 theaters this weekend, and it pulled in $4.3 million, down a small 15% from last weekend. This Focus Features film has quietly earned $25.2 million so far, and its Golden Globe win for Best Picture on Sunday will certainly help it in the weeks to come. (By the way, watch this this lovely interview from EW.com with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. It’s nice to see actors who act to tell stories, not to get awards or fame…)
Charlie Wilson’s War, the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts film that just didn’t quite click, fell 47% to $4.3 million this weekend. With a low $1,775 venue average, Charlie Wilson’s War should start shedding theaters pretty quickly now. The Universal film has earned a moderately disappointing $59.5 million after four weekends.
In the number twelve spot, Sweeney Todd (which picked up a Best Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor award on Sunday) falls 39% to $3.4 million over the last three days. With $44.1 million in four weekends, it will be interesting to see how much further the DreamWorks musical can go now that it has received some major awards attention.
The final new opener, In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, debuted outside the Top 12 with a tiny $3.3 million, and a paltry $2,002 per theater average. I’m rather proud of North America for its blatant rejection of Uwe Boll’s latest terribly reviewed film. Though this will be his most unsuccessful film to date, I’m sure it will result in an even bigger budget for his next one…
Next weekend should be very interesting. We’ve got Katherine Heigl and James Marsden in the romantic comedy 27 Dresses, the uber-hyped old-school monster movie, Cloverfield, and the female heist flick, Mad Money. Check back on Friday for the Weekend Preview.
Top 12 for January 11-13
||The Bucket List
||National Treasure: Book of Secrets
||Alvin and the Chipmunks
||I Am Leged
||One Missed Call
||P.S. I Love You
||The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
||Charlie Wilson’s War
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.