Archive for the ‘Jennifer Aniston’ Category

8 Legitimate Box Office Draws

November 25, 2009

When I was editing my Weekend Fix video, cutting out clips and fast forwarding through parts of it to keep the time down, I cringed a little bit when I had to cut out the bit about Sandra Bullock being one of the few remaining box office draws.  Indeed, gone are the days when nothing more than an actor’s name could draw audiences to the box office in droves.  Very few movie stars actually exhibit consistent drawing power.  Unlike the Old Hollywood Era of yesteryear, these days, big box office grosses have more to do with spectacle, story, or popular franchises than they have to do with the actors’ popularity. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few names that can truly mobilize the masses and get people into the theaters.  Therefore, since I didn’t get to say my piece in my video, and it is List Wednesday, I present to you (in no particular order) these eight legitimate box office draws:

Sandra Bullock

The fantastic $34.1 million debut of The Blind Side inspired this list, and Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she can open movies.  Beautiful, hilarious, and yet somehow down-to-earth and relatable, Bullock comes across as funny and appealing to guys, and appealing as an everyday woman to her fellow females.  While her main audience is certainly females, and most of her big box office hits are romantic comedies (Miss Congeniality – $106 million, Two Weeks Notice – $93 million, The Proposal – $163 million), she’s proven a few times that she’s more versatile than that.  Look no further than Speed, with its $121 million gross, or The Blind Side‘s current box office performance- she’s a true-blue box office star.

Adam Sandler

I wrote about Sandler’s box office viability extensively a while ago.  You can read that post here.  All you have to know, is that this man is one of the smartest decision makers in Hollywood.  He knows his target audience, and he constantly releases films that they want to see.  Voila!  You’ve got a formula for great box office results.

Jim Carrey

The go-to man for comedy.  Jim Carrey, more than any other funnyman in the last 20 years, has established himself as the most popular comedian at the box office.  Audiences love his brand of absurd facial expressions and heartfelt sincerity.  He’s been trying to branch out lately, but when he sticks to high profile, big budget releases like Fun With Dick And Jane ($110 million), Bruce Almighty ($242 million), How The Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million), Liar Liar ($181 million), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 million) features, he really hits his stride and rakes in the dollars.  I personally love it when Carrey mixes his comedy persona with some more serious roles, like in The Truman Show, which resulted in great reviews great box office ($125 million).

Jennifer Aniston

People love to tear down Jennifer Aniston, saying she hasn’t been successful as a movie star and that she should have stuck to TV.  I beg to differ.  When Aniston sticks to the breezy romantic comedy genre, she’s remarkably popular.  She’s found big success with films like Along Came Polly ($88 million), The Break Up ($118 million), Marley And Me ($143 million), He’s Just Not That Into You ($93 million).  By my calculations, that makes someone a movie star.

Will Smith

Like Sandler above, way back in the day, I dedicated a whole post to Will Smith’s box office success.  I don’t need to tell you how famous he is… Just read the old post and add 2008’s $227 million gross for Hancock to the mix.

Brad Pitt

The godfather of all celebrities has really established himself as a major box office force in the 2000s.  He doesn’t have as much of a defined genre as some of the other people on this list, but he typically plays cocky, comedic characters, though he has done his fair share of dramas as well.  In the last decade, he’s found success with Oceans Eleven ($183 million), Troy ($123 million), Oceans Twelve ($125 million), Mr. And Mrs. Smith ($186 million), Oceans Thirteen ($117 million), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ($127 million), and Inglorious Basterds ($120 million).

Katherine Heigl

Heigl is certainly the youngest and least proven actor on this list, but in the last three years, since che burst onto the scene in TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen her film roles wisely, and I have my eye on her as the young box office star with the most potential drawing power.  She already has figured out that her bread and butter is in the romantic comedy genre.  In 2007, she starred in Knocked Up, which grossed $146 million.  In 2008, she took 27 Dresses to $76 million.  And in 2009, she helped The Ugly Truth to $88 million.  If she continues to pick strong roles within her genre, she’ll keep seeing strong returns.

Friday Estimates: Meatballs-Good, Informant-Solid, Love Happens-Fair, Jennifer’s Body-Poor

September 19, 2009

Here are your box office estimates for Friday September 18:

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs had a solid first day with $8.1 million, and it seems headed for a $27 million weekend.  The Informant! fared pretty well with $3.7 million on Friday, and a $10.8 million weekend seems in order.  Jennifer Aniston’s Love Happens found $3.1 million, while Megan Fox’s Jennifer’s Body earned $2.8 million on Friday, but Jennifer’s Body is sure to be frontloaded.  Give Love Happens $9 million for the weekend, while Body might find $6.8 million.

Friday Estimates for September 18, 2009
1. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – $8.1 million
2. The Informant – $3.7 million
3. I Can Do Bad All By Myself – $3.1 million
4. Love Happens – $3.1 million
5. Jennifer’s Body – $2.8 million
6. 9 – $1.6 million
7. Inglorious Basterds – $1.2 million
8. All About Steve – $1.1 million
9. Sorority Row – $850,000
10. The Final Destination – $740,000
11. Whiteout – $665,000
12. Julie And Julia – $590,000

What do you think about these results? Let me hear your reactions in the comments!

Weekend Preview: Will "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" Rain As Box Office King?

September 18, 2009

Four new films hit theaters this weekend, and contrary to the usual September box office behavior, we’ve got some high profile, well promoted pictures flying onto the screen.  Sony is bringing us an animated adaptation of the famous childrens book, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.   Fox has the Megan Fox horror film, Jennifer’s Body.  Warner Brothers is premiering the Matt Damon vehicle, The Informant!.  And Universal is debuting a schmaltzy romantic (comedic?) film, Love Happens.  Along with solid holdovers from Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself and 9, it should be a lively weekend at the box office, which makes my job fun!  Here are my predictions:

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – 3,119 theaters – $27 million
1. This is based on a popular childrens book.  Movies that are based on books have built in audiences, which helps box office a lot, but a movie with a built in kids audience is even better because it drags parents into the theater.
2. Advertising has been strong, the premise is fun, and reviews are great.  All of these things will help the box office.
3. Isn’t it kind of nice to just get a nice, normal computer animated film?  None of this 3-D mumbo jumbo.  Imagine how refreshing it will be when Disney debuts The Princess And The Frog later this year and we get nice, normal traditional animation!

Jennifer’s Body – 2,701 theaters – $13 million
1. Some analysts have this earning more, but I’m not convinced that Megan Fox is actually a box office draw.  Guys love to see her in the Transformers movies, but that’s like saying Keira Knightley is the reason guys saw the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Action and adventure will get men into the seats, and though they’ll gobble up the gorgeous women selling themselves on the screen, I don’t believe that is the main drawing factor.  Fox has yet to prove she can open a movie, and as Sorority Row taught us last week, hot girls aren’t enough to make something a box office hit.
2. In the film, Megan Fox becomes some sort of zombie, but the advertisements make her look more like some sort of vampire.  I’m sure this is intentional, as vampires are the new penguins in terms of consumer appeal, and it will probably help a bit.
3. R Ratings are not good for box office.  Especially for a movie headlined by someone with a very young fanbase.

The Informant! – 2,505 theaters – $12.5 million
1. I’m not going to lie.  I had heard nothing about this movie until last week, but it looks like it’s being marketed as a Coen Brothers-style farce by Steven Soderbergh.
2. Matt Damon is another star who has yet to prove himself as a box office draw outside of the Bourne and Oceans franchises.  Still, he’s reached a certain level of celebrity in the last two years.  You know, the kind where you can go on any late night talk show whenever you want.  The kind where you can get on the cover of People without any movie to promote.  It’s called the A-list, and while Damon is no Brad Pitt, he’ll certainly bring some crowds to the theater.
3. Calling your movie The Informant! instantly places it into the realm of politics.  Movies about politics are tough sells, especially these days, when people have just about had enough of our own government.  The subject matter is the biggest negative to this film’s box office.

Love Happens – 1,898 theaters – $12 million
1. The reviews are terrible, the title is horrendous, and the theater count is pretty low.  But this is a romance, and romances are review-proof.  If P.S. I Love You can make $53 million, then I simply can’t believe that this, a film with much more star power, will flop.
2. Jennifer Aniston is a box office draw.  She proved it with Marley And Me, The Break Up, and He’s Just Not That Into You.  People don’t give her the credit she deserves
3. Nights In Rodanthe opened in late September last year to $13.4 million, but that movie looked more romantic and less dour, so I think Love Happens will perform similarly.

Holdovers

Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself will plummet this weekend, as all Tyler Perry films do in their second weekend.  Don’t be surprised if it undercuts by $10 million prediction.  9, meanwhile adds 399 theaters, to bring its venue count to 2,060.  That should soften it’s second weekend decline, giving it a $6.3 million weekend. Here are the full box office predictions:

Box Office Predictions for September 18-20, 2009
1. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – $27 million
2. Jennifer’s Body – $13 million
3. The Informant! – $12.5 million
4. Love Happens – $12 million
5. I Can Do Bad All By Myself – $10 million
6. 9 – $6.3 million
7. Inglorious Basterds – $3.6 million
8. All About Steve – $2.7 million
9. The Final Destination – $2.4 million
10. Whiteout – $2.2 million

What are your predictions?  And what do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments!

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww….

June 19, 2009

Damn, does that look sappy. But I’ll watch Jennifer Aniston do sappy any day, and Aaron Eckhart has done a lot of great stuff. Is this the next Notebook, the romance film that girls drag their boyfriends to, where they go frowning, then end up liking it, and then tell their friends, “Dude, I actually liked it,” then they get teased, until all of them are dragged to see it, and pretty much they secretly sob in each other’s arms without telling their girlfriends they liked it? Could it be?

Maybe not, but if Jennifer Aniston’s in it, I’m there. A perk of a girlfriend I’d never thought of before: seeing chick flicks shamelessly.

Weekend Preview: Sorry Clint Eastwood, Bride Wars And The NFL Are BFF’s

January 9, 2009

January has historically been a rather bipolar month at movie theaters. On the one hand, studios often dump some of their very worst films in January, and this month’s releases are pretty much awful more often than not. On the other hand, however, January is also the time when studios will expand their quality, smaller titles, hoping to capitalize on the positive effects of awards season and build enough buzz to garner the ever elusive Oscar nomination. The second weekend of 2009 follows this tried-and-true formula to a tee: There are two new wide releases, Bride Wars and The Unborn, which are getting absolutely obliterated by critics, and then Clint Eastwood’s buzzy Gran Torino, which is launching into wide release after four weekends in a limited count.

I truly hate that I’m writing this, but the top spot this weekend could go to Bride Wars, the utterly derivative wedding comedy from Fox. Okay, Kate Hudson’s choice of role has always been rather questionable, but how Anne Hathaway ended up in this dreck is beyond me. I’m sorry to sound so cynical, but I can’t be the only person who is so over Hollywood’s love of stereotypical bridezilla comedy. The movie follows two lifelong friends, whose weddings are suddenly scheduled on the same day. When they find this out, they launch a war to take down the opposing bride, completely forgetting that they are best friends. Obviously, these are well-developed, three-dimensional characters who actually act like real human beings, and it sounds hilarious, right? Wrong. Unfortunately for all mankind, Bride Wars does actually have a good amount going for it. Last year, 27 Dresses, another wedding-centered film targeting women, opened to $23 million, which bodes rather well for Bride Wars. Also helping will be the fact that the NFL playoffs are this month. While millions of men are glued to the TV screen, millions of disinterested wives will go to the movies, and Bride Wars has made it clear that it is a cinematic destination for women only. I have to give Fox a little bit of credit for wisely counter programming. Advertising has been very strong, but I think that its box office will be limited to a small extent by its horrendous reviews. I only say “to a small extent” because when movies are exclusively targeting women, females seem to settle for some truly bad entertainment. Men do it too. So do Christians. I don’t quite understand it. Anyway, the comedy is out in 3,226 theaters, and I’ll give it the narrow victory this weekend, with a $19 million opening.

Completely switching gears, Warner Brothers’ Oscar bait, Gran Torino, is expanding from 84 to 2,808 theaters, and it will be duking it out with Bride Wars for the top spot. The Clint Eastwood-directed drama is targeting older males, pretty much the exact opposite audience of its main competition, and though the NFL playoffs will help Bride Wars, they should have a negative effect on Gran Torino‘s performance. Still, the venue averages for Gran Torino have been amazing solid, up in the $20-30,000 range these past few weeks. While these numbers will come down to earth over the next few days, they tell us that Gran Torino should still start off pretty well in wide release. The racial drama’s good reviews and word-of-mouth will certainly help it as well. I’m predicting an $18 million weekend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up coming out on top.

The final new wide release of the weekend is The Unborn, a typical January horror release. It’s funny- this is a film that is probably just as bad as Bride Wars, but I just don’t seem to mind. I feel like horror is never really that good, and if I consistently expect nothing, I’ll always be delighted! In truth, poor reviews don’t matter much for the Universal fright-fest. Teens will be the main audience for The Unborn, and they are pretty much review-proof. This should play out like almost every other horror title: Teens will rush out the theater this weekend to watch it, and then it will plummet in its second weekend, and then it will earn some dough on DVD. The Unborn will definitely benefit from being the first of four horror movies this January, and the ads have actually been pretty scary, so I think this one should do alright. Playing in 2,356 theaters, it should earn $14 million.

Among holdovers, there should be some pretty standard (for January) 30-40% drops. Former top dog Marley And Me will stick by its constant companions, Bedtime Stories and The Curious Case Of Benajmin Button. The films might garner similar weekend totals of $13.5 million, $13 million, and $12 million, respectively. Bedtime will cross the $100 million milestone, and Button will be only a few million dollars behind. Here are my full Top 12 predictions:

Predicted Top 12 for January 9-11
1. Bride Wars – $19 million
2. Gran Torino – $18 million
3. The Unborn – $14 million
4. Marley And Me – $13.5 million
5. Bedtime Stories – $13 million
6. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $12 million
7. Yes Man – $8.5 million
8. Valkyrie – $8 million
9. Seven Pounds – $6 million
10. Slumdog Millionaire – $3.9 million
11. The Tale Of Despereaux – $3.8 million
12. Doubt – $3.6 million

Also, if you guys use Digg, Delicious, Furl, StumbleUpon, etc., I’d really appreciate a tag! We’re a small little group of Box Office Junkies around here, so let’s invite a few more people to the party!

Weekend Fix: Everything (But The Spirit) Holds Well, Slumdog And Doubt Shine

January 4, 2009

The first weekend of 2009 provided Hollywood with a strong start for the year. Marley And Me, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, and Valkyrie remained the top four choices for moviegoers, and the top seven features each held their rank from last weekend. Though there was very little movement on the chart, solid holdovers and tiny drops led the Top 12 to earn $130 million in total box office, a 7% increase over the first weekend of 2008. It’s a happy new year, indeed.

Marley And Me again took the top spot, grossing $24 million, for an eye-popping $106 million total. The Fox production dropped 34% from last week and had a solid $6,682 per theater average, which guarantees that it will keep playing in theaters for a good while longer. Marley And Me has firmly re-established the box office vitality of both Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, and it really is a victory for all those involved. Between this and last year’s Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fox has demonstrated that they know how to open a movie in late December to great success, so if you’re wondering about the prospects of Fox’s next December title, James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being released on December 19th of this year, I’m making an early prediction that it’s going to be HUGE.

Disney’s Adam Sandler vehicle, Bedtime Stories, evaded any backlash from its horrendous reviews and managed to drop just 26% to $20 million. Proving that the holidays are kind to family films, Bedtime Stories earned a $5,507 venue average, as parents took advantage of the winter break and flocked to the theaters with their kids one last time, before they had to go back to school. The film has grossed a nice $85 million so far.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button fell 31% in its second weekend, raking in an estimated $18 million dollars. The Paramount picture had a good $6,158 per theater average. There’s something nice about seeing a true-blue, old-school Hollywood drama starring A-list leads like Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett do so well at the box office. It just makes me feel like there is normalcy in the world, which is comforting. After twelve days, the picture has amassed a very good $79 million.

United Artists’ Valkyrie continued its surprisingly strong run this weekend, adding $14 million to its box office total, with a $5,505 venue average. The WWII drama starring Tom Cruise has caught on quite well with male viewers, and with $60 million already in the bank, it could be headed to a $90 million total. So while Tom Cruise may not be all the way back to his Mission: Impossible/ Top Gun glory days, he’s well on his way to career redemption.

The next three spots are filled by three films that can’t seem to get enough of each other, for they have been stuck together on the chart since they debuted three weeks ago. In fifth place is the Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel comedy Yes Man, which earned $14 million. The Warner Brothers film has performed admirably after its lackluster start, and it now sits with $79 million total. In sixth is Seven Pounds, the Will Smith flick that just didn’t ever catch on. This weekend the Sony drama found $10 million, pushing its total to $60 million. And in seventh is Universal’s The Tale Of Despereaux, which grossed $7 million, for a modest $43 million total.

Doubt came in eighth place this weekend, as the effects of awards season begin to show their strength. The religious drama from Miramax fell only 6% to $5 million. It’s $3,909 venue average isn’t amazingly strong, but its enough to keep it around for a few weeks, and if it can pick up some awards, it will keep up its slow burn at the box office. Thus far, it has earned a pretty-good-considering-the-subject-matter $19 million. The Day The Earth Stood Still, a film that won’t be winning any awards, earned $4.8 million this weekend for an alright $74 million total.

And now for the film that I am unabashedly in love with: Slumdog Millionaire. I’m serious, it’s not like I just liked this movie a little bit- I LOVED it. I’m talking Wall-E levels of affection here! To my great pleasure, the Danny Boyle masterpiece did great at the box office this week, actually increasing 11% to $4.7 million, for a $29 million total. Even better, it’s $7,794 per theater average was the best in the Top 12! Fox Searchlight has mastered the art of rolling out lovable, artistic flicks like this one, and they’re doing a great job with Slumdog Millionaire. Seriously, go see it.

Filling up the last two spots are November stalwarts, Twilight and Bolt. The Summit vampire movie sucked another $4.5 million out of Americans’ pockets for a $176 million total. It will be interesting to see how the third Underworld movie, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, which debuts later this month, will perform in this newly-invigorated vampire genre. Finishing off the Top 12 is Disney’s Bolt, a film that has recovered nicely after a very slow start. This weekend, it grossed $3.2 million for a $110 total, which represents a great 4.23 multiplier. (For the uninitiated, a multiplier is calculated by dividing a movie’s total gross by its opening weekend.)

From here on out, look for things to cool down a bit now that the holidays have come to a close. The box office should return to its regular cycle of low weekday and high weekend numbers. Next weekend will see the debut of three new films: Bride Wars, The Unborn, and Not Easily Broken. Check back next Thursday for my Weekend Preview, throughout the week for new industry-related stories. For now though, here are this weekend’s results:

Top 12 for January 2-4 2009
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross
% Change AVG. Total
1 Marley And Me $24,050,000 -34% $6,862 $106,510,250
2 Bedtime Stories $20,317,000 -26% $5,507 $85,351,000
3 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button $18,400,000 -31% $6,158 $79,011,000
4 Valkyrie $14,042,000 -33% $5,055 $60,691,979
5 Yes Man $13,850,000 -17% $4,033 $79,413,000
6 Seven Pounds $10,000,000 -24% $3,626 $60,308,000
7 The Tale Of Despereaux $7,019,816 -21% $2,271 $43,741,816
8 Doubt $5,031,000 -6% $3,909 $18,730,000
9 The Day The Earth Stood Still $4,850,000 -37% $2,075 $74,299,426
10 Slumdog Millionaire $4,770,000 11% $7,794 $28,778,672
11 Twilight $4,530,000 -4% $2,399 $176,815,169
12 Bolt $3,271,000 -3% $1,892 $109,897,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Who Get’s The Credit For Marley And Me’s Success: Jennifer Aniston Or The Dog?

January 3, 2009

By now, it’s clear to everyone that Fox’s Marley And Me is a massive success. It has already earned $92 million, and by the end of the weekend it will be sitting pretty with almost $110 million. At this point, $175 million seems well within reach. Many, including myself, have hailed this as a major comeback for Jennifer Aniston, who in recent years has suffered an image crisis, fueled primarily by gossip blogger Perez Hilton. However, for all of the praise that’s been heaped upon Aniston, there are huge hordes of haters who refuse to give the actress any credit, instead citing the titular dog’s cute-factor as the major drawing power of Marley And Me. Well, despite their excessively standoffish behavior, the haters actually got me thinking. Who should get the credit for Marley And Me‘s success? Was it the dog, Aniston, or something else completely?

To answer this question, I looked at the box office history of movies with dogs as a main character. Unfortunately, there is no available box office information for Disney’s 1957 film Old Yeller, which lives on as the most famous dog movie of all time, but with the available statistics, here are the Top 20 Dog Movies of all time.

Top 20 Dog Movies Of All Time
# Movie Title Studio Total Gross Release Date
1 Scooby-Doo WB $153 million 2002
2 101 Dalmations Disney $136 million 1996
3 Cats & Dogs WB $93 million 2001
4 Beverly Hills Chihuahua Disney $93 million 2008
5 Marley And Me Fox $92 million 2008
6 Scooby-Doo 2:
Monsters Unleashed
WB $84 million 2004
7 Eight Below Disney $81 million 2006
8 Snow Dogs Disney $81 million 2002
9 Turner & Hooch Disney $71 million 1989
10 102 Dalmations Disney $67 million 2000
11 The Shaggy Dog Disney $61 million 2006
12 Beethoven Universal $57 million 1992
13 Beethoven’s 2nd Universal $53 million 1993
14 Underdog Disney $43 million 2007
15 K-9 Universal $43 million 1989
16 Homeward Bound:
The Incredible Journey
Disney $41 million 1993
17 Benji Mulberry $39 million 1974
18 Good Boy! MGM $37 million 2003
19 White Fang Disney $34 million 1991
20 My Dog Skip WB $34 million 2000

Other than the fact that Disney really likes to make dog movies, what do these results tell us? Well, they tell us that dog movies aren’t really all that popular. They do well enough, and many of the grosses are solid, but they’re hardly breaking any box office records. (You should keep in mind that these are the top 20, and there are many more dog movies that are not even on the list.) The results have me asking, if dogs are really such a draw to the theaters, why have only two dog movies ever broken $100 million? After ten days, Marley And Me already sits at number five, and it will undoubtedly top this chart by the end of its run, but based on box office history, we simply can’t attribute all that success to the presence of a dog in the movie. Clearly, pooches do have some drawing power, but not enough to pull in the kind of numbers that Marley And Me is seeing. So, if it’s not the puppy, who should get the credit?

Jennifer Aniston. From a box office perspective, that’s the answer that makes the most sense to me, because she has all the makings of a real box office star. I truly don’t understand why the entertainment media decided that they should dislike her. Give the woman some love! She was on one of the most popular television shows of all time, she’s a total babe, and she already has some box office success under her belt with Bruce Almighty ($242 million), Along Came Polly ($88 million), and The Break Up ($118 million). Of course, one could point to The Good Girl ($24 million), Derailed ($36 million), or Rumor Has It ($42 million) as signs of her inconsistency, but I think that these are simply examples of the Sandler-Effect, which is when an actor plays outside his/her main genre and sees limited box office results. Clearly, she’s an actress that audiences prefer to see opposite a leading man in comedies, and so Marley And Me was a wise choice of role. Thus, because of her proven marketability, and the so-so popularity of dogs, I’m saying that Jennifer Aniston deserves more credit than Marley. Q.E.D.

Plus, she starred in Office Space! Come on, haters! What gives?!

Friday Estimates: Marley Stays On Top, Bedtime Stories Holds Well, And Go Slumdog Millionaire!

January 3, 2009

After a magnificent debut last weekend, Marley And Me will again take the top spot, and based on its $9.7 million Friday numbers, it’s looking like the dog movie should drop by about 30% for the weekend. Bedtime Stories only fell 16% from last Friday to $8.5 million, while The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button dropped 30% to $7.1 million. Overall, things at the box office are looking pretty similar to last weekend, and it looks like my holiday prediction method will end up working out pretty well. The biggest news on the charts might belong to Slumdog Millionaire, which actually increased 13% from last Friday on the heels of massive awards buzz. I saw the film last night, and let me go on record as saying that Slumdog Millionaire deserves all the critical and financial praise it’s getting. Out in 612 theaters, it’s already earned about $25 million, and I’m very hopeful about it’s prospects, but I will not be satisfied until it has earned at least $75 million. Anyway, here are the Friday Estimates:

Top 12 for January 2, 2009
# Movie Title Friday-to-

Friday
Daily Gross
1 Marley And Me -31% $9,700,000
2 Bedtime Stories -16% $8,500,000
3 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button -30% $7,100,000
4 Yes Man -7% $5,600,000
5 Valkyrie -33% $5,400,000
6 Seven Pounds -18% $3,900,000
7 The Tale Of Despereaux -12% $2,800,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still -32% $1,900,000
9 Doubt -2% $1,800,000
10 Twilight +12% $1,800,000
11 Slumdog Millionaire +13% $1,600,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Weekend Preview: 2009 Picks Up Right Where 2008 Left Off

January 2, 2009

Wow, my job is made a lot easier when there are no new wide releases to report on! My job is also made easier during the week after Christmas, when films tend to earn the same amount of money pretty much every day, regardless of their time in the week. Thus, as you can probably predict, holdovers will rule the first weekend in 2009, and surprise blockbuster Marley And Me will again take the number one spot on the charts.

Here’s how I figured out this week’s numbers- it’s actually ridiculously simple. With everyone out of school and work, and weekdays and weekend days acting essentially the same this week, I took the Tuesday numbers and multiplied them all by by about 3.3. It would be just 3.0, but the weekend does matter a little bit. And Oscar bait that is marketed solely to adults I multiplied by 3.8, since there are adults that have been working this week. And that’s really all I did. Will my little experiment work? We’ll see. All I know, is that Marley And Me will cross the $100 million mark, Bedtime Stories and The Curious Benjamin Button should end up around $80 million, and Valkyrie might make it to $60 million. Also, of note, after a weak $10 million start, The Tale Of Despereaux is doing alright for itself. It has currently earned $32 million, and might finish the weekend with $42 million. It could ultimately outgross Seven Pounds. Here’s the full forecast for the weekend:

Predicted Top 12 for January 2-4
1. Marley And Me – $25 million
2. Bedtime Stories – $21.5 million
3. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $18 million
4. Valkyrie – $14 million
5. Yes Man – $12 million
6. The Tale Of Despereaux – $8.5 million
7. Seven Pounds – $8 million
8. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $4.3 million
9. Twilight – $4 million
10. Doubt – $4 million
11. Slumdog Millionaire – $3.8 million
12. Bolt – $3.5 million

Weekend Fix: Marley And Me Shuts Out Competition On The Biggest Christmas Weekend Ever

December 28, 2008

Fueled by the powerful debuts of Marley And Me, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Bedtime Stories, and Valkyrie, the box office was in full force this weekend, pulling in record numbers for the Christmas frame. It appears that in the midst of a recession, while retail sales are rapidly declining and unemployment is on the rise, the movies offered American audiences a perfect escape from the harsh realities of life. If only the holidays could help our economy as much as they help the movie industry! Over the four day weekend, the Top 12 pulled in an amazing $264 million. Over the three day weekend, the Top 12 pulled in an estimated $194 million, an increase of 15% over the same weekend last year.

Marley And Me nabbed the top spot this weekend, with a humongous $51.6 million opening. Based on the popular bestseller by Josh Grogan, Fox’s already successful Marley And Me officially shuts up all those who claimed that Jennifer Aniston would never be able to become a full-fledged movie star. Between this and 2006’s The Break Up, it seems she has found her niche in relationship movies that are not quite romantic comedies. This is also a big victory for Owen Wilson, as this marks his comeback from his unfortunate and highly publicized suicide attempt last year, so it’s nice to see him doing better. Marley And Me had a fantastic per theater average of $14,849 ($10,632 for the 3-day), the best in the Top 12. Fox has advertised this movie so well. Just like with last December’s Alvin And The Chipmunks, they sold the cute-factor, with commercials that showcased the adorable canine, and it payed off in a big way! In fact, cuteness, sweetness, and schmaltz are all perfectly acceptable in the holiday season. With great family playability and good enough reviews, this should continue to do solid business over the next few days and weeks, and I don’t see any reason why Marley And Me shouldn’t breeze all the way to $170 million in the near future. A true success in every way.

In second place this weekend was David Fincher’s Oscar bait, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which took in a great $39 million. The Paramount picture exceeded expectations and had a brilliant per theater average of $13,052 ($9,103 for the 3-day). Audiences responded to the fresh and innovative storyline, proving that a good story is the best way to sell a movie. But the story didn’t do all the work here- Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett definitely pulled in some viewers, and the good reviews and Oscar buzz pulled in even more. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button fought against its long playtime, avoiding the three-hour-curse that plagued King Kong in 2005, and performed like a champ. With awards season already upon us, Button should continue to perform strongly, and I’ve gotta say, it is nice to see a movie that can be considered both mainstream and an awards-contender. If it wins some major honors, the sky is the limit in terms of box office, but even if it doesn’t, $140 million is all but assured.

Disney’s Adam Sandler picture (oxymoron?), Bedtime Stories, came in third place this weekend, earning $38.6 million over four days. Bedtime Stories is a classic case of a movie that is a victim of high expectations. Even if its $38.6 million debut isn’t necessarily bad, everyone was expecting this to do better, and absolutely no one thought that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which was playing in 700 less theaters and is over an hour longer than Bedtime Stories, could match its debut. So why wasn’t it bigger? Well, I think there are a couple of factors that led to this result. To begin, reviews were bad. Very bad. On top of that, people associate Adam Sandler with a very specific kind of character (see: slacker and/or raunchy), and perhaps that didn’t work so well during the holiday season, where wholesome characters are more welcome. But don’t get me wrong- Bedtime Stories is far from a failure. In fact, with a very large theater count and a good $10,630 venue average ($9,103 for the 3-day), Bedtime Stories should stick around for a while, and will have no trouble making it to $140 million.

Proving that he’s still a star, Tom Cruise also had a good weekend at the cineplex, as United Artists’ Valkyrie took in an estimated $30 million. This movie had a lot working against it. The first problem, Tom Cruise. Mr. Cruise has wisely toned down his antics and raves over the past year, and it looks like audiences are finally ready to move on from Oprah-gate and Lauer-bash. The second problem , a war theme. In the past few years, films about war have not done well at all. You see, movies are about escapism, and when our country is currently at war, no one wants to go to the theater to see what’s already on the news 24/7. It appears, though, that Valkyrie, which takes place during WWII, is far enough removed from our current situation to be affected by the poor receipts that have plagued movies about the Iraq War. With a good $11,075 average ($7,942 over the 3-day), Valkyrie could return Tom Cruise to his $100 million days.

The next four spots on the chart were occupied by last weekend’s top four releases. Warner Brothers’ Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey, did pretty well, dipping just 10% over the three day weekend ($16.5 million), and pulling in $22 million over four days, for a total of $50 million. The Sony drama Seven Pounds was also down 10% ($13.4 million over the 3-day), grabbing an additional $18 million over the four day weekend, which gives the Will Smith vehicle a very underwhelming $40 million total. The Tale Of Despereaux held it’s own, making $11.4 ($9.4 million over the 3-day, a 7% drop) million for a humble $27.7 million total. And sci-fi actioner The Day The Earth Stood Still notched a $10.3 million weekend ($7.9 over the 3-day, a 20% drop) for a $63.3 million total.

Way back in ninth place was Lionsgate’s attempt at Sin City, a much worse movie called The Spirit, which only managed to earn $10.4 million in it’s four day debut, but just $6.5 million over the regular weekend. Despite a cast made up of Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, and Scarlatt Johannson, The Spirit had a weak $4,125 venue average ($2,595 over the 3-day). This was a movie marketed to teens and fanboys, and it’s front-loadedness is already apparent. Look for The Spirit to disappear quickly.

December stalwart Four Christmases added an extra $7.1 million ($5 million over the 3-day) to it’s great $111.8 million cume. The Warner Brothers comedy will probably disappear pretty quickly now that Christmas has passed. Next on the list was Miramax’s Doubt. After expanding into 1,228 theaters, the dramatic Oscar contender starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, did pretty well, considering its dour subject matter. Over four days, it pulled in $7.1 million for a $6,294 per theater average ($5.7 million over the 3-day, for a $4,479 average). Doubt has currently earned $8.8 million. Rounding out the Top 12 was Twilight, a movie that has done quite well for itself over the past six weeks. Summit’s teen vampire flick found another $6.5 million this weekend, boosting its total to $167 million. (As a side note, I just learned about all this drama going on among Twilight fangirls! The studio wants to recast Taylor Lautner in New Moon for someone with bigger muscles, but the fans want Taylor as Jacob! Read more here…it’s kind of hilarious.) Results for both the 4-day and 3-day weekends are below:

Top 12 for December 25-28 2008
# Movie Title 4-Day Gross
Total
1 Marley And Me $51,675,000 $51,675,000
2 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button $39,000,000 $39,000,000
3 Bedtime Stories $38,598,000 $38,598,000
4 Valkyrie $30,000,000 $30,000,000
5 Yes Man $22,400,000 $49,591,000
6 Seven Pounds $18,100,000 $39,026,000
7 The Tale Of Despereaux $11,400,000 $27,945,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still $10,400,000 $63,615,000
9 The Spirit $10,350,000 $10,350,000
10 Four Christmases $7,300,000 $111,817,000
11 Doubt $7,100,000 $8,825,000
12 Twilight $6,000,000 $167,063,207
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Top 12 for December 26-28 2008
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross
1 Marley And Me $37,000,000
2 Bedtime Stories $28,069,000
3 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button $27,200,000
4 Valkyrie $21,531,000
5 Yes Man $16,450,000
6 Seven Pounds $13,400,000
7 The Tale Of Despereaux $9,367,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still $7,900,000
9 The Spirit $6,510,000
10 Doubt $5,675,000
11 Four Christmases $5,045,000
12 Twilight $4,518,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.