Archive for the ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’ Category

Weekend Fix: Treasure Threepeats, Juno Exceeds Expectations

January 6, 2008

     The first weekend of 2008 got the year off to good start, continuing the solid weekend performances that the box office has had for the last three weeks.  Of course, the holidays are pretty much over now, and the Top 12’s box office fell an expected 27% from last weekend, but with only one new film opening, the Top 12 films still managed to gross a collective $123.9 million, which represents a great 19% increase over the first weekend of last year.

     For the third weekend in a row, National Treasure: Book of Secrets held the top spot.  The Nicholas Cage flick earned $20.2 million this weekend, off 43% from last weekend.  Playing in a whopping 3,762 theaters, Disney’s Da Vinci Code rip-off had a pretty good $5,376 venue average.  Probably because of its weak reviews and rehashed story, Book of Secrets hasn’t held up as well as the original National Treasure did, but it will still end up outgrossing its predecessor (I’m seeing a final gross somewhere around $220 million).  After three weekends, National Treasure: Book of Secrets has earned a nice $171 million.
     I Am Legend, Warner Brothers’ apocalyptic thriller starring Will Smith, continued to utterly dominate at the box office.  In its fourth weekend, the sci-fi action movie earned $16.4 million, a 40% drop from last weekend.  After its huge $77 million opening, I Am Legend has been quite leggy, and by next weekend, it will have tripled its opening.  In its fourth weekend, it had a sturdy $4,490 per theater average, which is great for a film of its age.  In 24 days it has grossed a phenomenal $228.7 million.

     The third place film is the real success story of the weekend.  Juno, which expanded into 1,925 theaters this weekend, earned a stunning $16.2 million over the past three days.  Word of mouth has propelled this indie comedy to its incredible level of success, and with an amazing $8,429 per theater average, Juno is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon (Vote on the poll to the right that asks if Juno can break $100 million).  Although many awards voters won’t admit it, a film’s box office definitely matters when it comes to choosing award winners, and Juno‘s setting itself up for some major victories in the coming months.  After five weeks Fox Searchlight’s feature has earned $52 million.
     Finally out of the top three, Alvin and the Chipmunks fell 45% this weekend to $16 million.  The rodent comedy had a $4,622 venue average, and it has earned $176.7 million overall.  The terribly reviewed children’s movie just won’t die!  Mark my words, if the Writers Guild of America weren’t on strike right now, Fox would already be in the stages of preproduction for a sequel, and with $200 million right around the corner, a new installment of Alvin will be cranked out as soon as possible.

     One Missed Call, the weekend’s sole opening film, debuted to an alright $13.5 million.  The Warner Brothers horror film, which could win an award for not receiving a single positive review, had a very front-loaded weekend.  With a $5.2 million Friday, One Missed Call could only achieve a 2.6 internal multiplier, which implies that it will have very short legs at the box office.  It had an okay $6,038 per theater average, which is not terrible, but certainly nothing special, and I’m guessing that One Missed Call will probably finish its run with a bad $30 million.  No one’s going to miss this one…
     In sixth place, Charlie Wilson’s War kept on redeeming its slow start.  Down 32%, Universal’s Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts political comedy grossed $8.2 million this weekend, giving it a fairly small $3,155 venue average.  Overall, Charlie Wilson’s War has grossed $52.6 million, and while this is lower than one would expect given the pedigree of its stars, it’s very good considering how poorly the film opened.  It could end with about $70-80 million overall.

     P.S. I Love You fell a tiny 14% to $8 million, as it continued its inexplicable endurance at the box office.  With a venue average of $3,244, P.S. I Love You isn’t breaking any records, but it is notable that the Warner Brothers romantic comedy did better in its third weekend than it did in its opening.  I guess word-of-mouth is good among teenage girls, who just love to cry at the movies.  In three weeks, Hilary Swank’s foray into female roles has earned a not-too-shabby $39.4 million.
     The Water Horse was back in eighth place this weekend.  The children’s fantasy has been utterly overlooked, and was down 31% this weekend, for a $6.3 million gross, and a low $2,269 per theater average.  In total, Sony’s The Water Horse has splashed up a disappointing $30.9 million after three weeks.
     Sweeney Todd looks to be following a very similar trajectory to Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, which finished up with $53 million.  This weekend, Dreamworks/Paramount’s slasher musical, Sweeney Todd, found another $5.4 million, a 34% drop.  It was a good decision to keep the theater count low on this one, as it still has a fairly good $4,323 venue average in its third weekend.  This should keep in theaters a while longer, and with a few awards, Sweeney Todd could become a bona fide success.  We’ll have to wait and see.  For now, the musical gorefest will have to live with its $38.5 million total.

     Taking a page out of Juno‘s book, Atonement also had a very successful expansion this weekend.  Moving into 583 theaters, Atonement increased 64% to $5.1 million.  Its per theater average of $8,790 was the best in the Top 12, which should merit further expansions in the future.  It remains to be seen whether Atonement can outgross director Joe Wright’s previous picture, Pride and Prejudice, which earned $39 million, but I’m thinking it should have no trouble doing so.  Thus far, the Focus Features film has made $19.2 million
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem deteriorated in its second weekend, dropping 58% to $4.3 million, proving that everyone who really wanted to see this has already done so.  The weekend gross gave Fox’s mindless action movie a wretched $1,624 venue average, and assured that it will disappear from theaters quickly.  So far, AVP:R has grosses $30.5 million, with about a third of that coming from its opening day alone.

     Rounding out the Top 12 is Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters, which earned $4.2 million over the weekend frame.  The small MGM drama had an okay $3,291 per theater average.  With $22 million overall, The Great Debaters hasn’t performed spectacularly, but its done pretty well for a small film that had absolutely zero buzz going for it.  A few awards could help its cause tremendously.
     Next weekend brings four new films: the old-people laugher, The Bucket List, the Veggie Tales production, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, criminal comedy, First Sunday, and Uwe Boll’s latest (awful) video game adaptation, In The Name Of The King.  At this point, none seem to have real breakout potential, and the box office may be relying on holdovers for yet another week.  Check back next week for the Weekend Preview.

Top 12 for January 4-6

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $20,225,000 $171,033,000
2 I Am Legend $16,380,000 $228,718,000
3 Juno $16,225,000 $52,031,842
4 Alvin and the Chipmunks $16,000,000 $176,737,736
5 One Missed Call $13,525,000 $13,525,000
6 Charlie Wilson’s War $8,184,070 $52,630,360
7 P.S. I Love You $8,015,000 $39,383,000
8 The Water Horse $6,300,000 $30,893,000
9 Sweeney Todd $5,400,000 $38,472,000
10 Atonement $5,124,297 $19,215,527
11 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $4,250,000 $36,820,839
12 The Great Debaters $4,245,000 $22,007,817

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Friday Estimates: Not Everyone Misses One Missed Call

January 5, 2008

     Well, it looks like the holidays are coming to an end. While the box office isn’t behaving especially poorly, everything except Juno, Atonement, and (based on low expectations) One Missed Call is just average or a little bit underwhelming.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets will lead for the third weekend in a row, and on Friday the treasure-hunters found $6.4 million. A $19 million weekend seems likely.
     One Missed Call and I Am Legend both pulled in $5.2 million on Friday, but they should finish about $3 million apart. One Missed Call, which now has some shockingly bad reviews, was marketed almost exclusively to teens.  It will be very front-loaded should finish with $13 million. I Am Legend, which has already proven its longevity, will pull in a much better $16 million.
     Juno continued to exceed its buzz, earning a great $5.2 million on Friday. The indie comedy can’t seem to do anything wrong during its run, and even in almost 2,000 theaters, it will have a very good per theater average of about $7,500! Look for a $15 million weekend.     Atonement also fared well in it expansion, pulling in a solid $1.5 million yesterday. It should slightly exceed my prediction of $4.2 million, setting itself up for a truckload of awards.
     Everything else performed pretty much as expected, so there’s not much to report, but to see the final weekend grosses, check back in tomorrow for the Weekend Fix.

Friday Estimates for January 4
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $6.4 million
2. I Am Legend – $5.2 million
3. One Missed Call – $5.2 million
4. Juno – $5.2 million
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $4.6 million
6. P.S. I Love You – $2.6 million
7. Charlie Wilson’s War – $2.5
8. The Water Horse – $1.9 million
9. Sweeney Todd – $1.8 million
10. Atonement – $1.5 million
11. Alien Vs. Predator – $1.4 million
12. The Great Debaters – $1.2 million

Weekend Preview: Will "Call" Hit Or Miss?

January 4, 2008

     In the first weekend of 2008, with just one new film opening, the box office will have to rely on holdovers to sustain the great grosses of the holiday season. Still, 2008’s offerings should have no trouble outgrossing 2007’s first weekend, when Night At The Museum was on top. This year, National Treasure: Book of Secrets should top the box office for a third weekend in a row, but Alvin and the Chipmunks could be some stiff competition. Newcomer One Missed Call hopes to break out, while Atonement and Juno receive major expansions.

     One Missed Call, a remake of a Japanese horror film, is the sole opener this weekend. With a story that sounds remarkably similar to The Ring (and every other techno-supernatural Japanese thriller), One Missed Call tells the story of a woman who hears her own death over her cell phone, and then must figure out how to prevent her inevitable fate from occurring. Released by Warner Brothers, One Missed Call hopes to garner some of the success that other early-January horror releases have seen. In January 2005, White Noise opened with $24 million, and in 2006, Hostel surprised with a $19.6 million opening. Unfortunately, in 2007, moviegoers firmly rejected new horror titles. Hostel: Part II, The Hills Have Eyes 2, Vacancy, Hannibal Rising, The Reaping, and The Mist all finished with less than $30 million, and the Japanese style of horror has been out ever since torture-porn came along (Though, judging by the failures I just listed, it looks like torture-porn is out too). Advertising has been solid, but the movie still looks terribly generic- And what do you know? It wasn’t screened for critics! Launching in 2,240 theaters, One Missed Call might find a small $8 million over the weekend.
     The first major expansion of the weekend comes with Juno, which almost doubles its theater count to 1,925 venues. The teen pregnancy comedy has been picking up steam at an almost exponential rate in the last two weeks, performing more like a studio release than an indie flick, and while the expansion will cause a decrease in the per theater average, Juno should still have a great weekend. With a $14 million weekend, the Fox Searchlight picture will be pushing a phenomenal $50 million. Suddenly, $100 million seems like a possibility!     With Juno acting like such a champ, its easy to forget about a film like Focus Features’ Atonement, which has been quietly performing very solidly in its own right. The Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Saoirse Ronan (whose being hailed the next Dakota Fanning) movie has already earned $14 million, and with awards on the way, it still has a lot left in it. Atonement expands into 583 theaters this weekend, and it should pull in about $4.2 million.
     Among holdovers, small 30-45% drops should be the case for most films. National Treasure: Book of Secrets should again be on top, and a 40% decrease will give Disney’s Jerry Bruckheimer production about $21 million for the weekend, and $171 million overall. Right on its heels, Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks should have a smaller drop, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it even took the top spot. The Fox film should earn about $19 million in the next three days, giving it a $170 million running total. America, I hope you’re ready for sequels… In third, Sony’s I Am Legend will find an additional $16 million for a huge $227 million total.

Predicted Top 12 for January 4-6
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $21 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $19 million
3. I Am Legend – $16 million
4. Juno – $14 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $8 million
6. One Missed Call – $8 million
7. P.S. I Love You – $6.1 million
8. The Water Horse – $5.5 million
9. Sweeney Todd – $4.6 million
10. Alien Vs. Predator – $4.5 million
11. Enchanted – $4.2 million
12. Atonement – $4.2 million

Weekend Fix: Alvin Could Beat Out National Treasure…

December 30, 2007

     The last weekend of 2007 proved to be a great one at the movies, and a diverse offering of films helped propel the box office to lucrative heights.  This weekend, the Top 12 grossed a grossed a phenomenal $168.7 million, which represents an 11% increase over last weekend, and a whopping 17% increase over the same weekend last year.  The amazing holiday season has completely wiped out the bad taste left by the Fall’s weak offerings.  Thankfully, the Winter season has redeemed the terrible box office declines of the September, October, and November, in which only The Game Plan, Enchanted, and American Gangster could be seen as real successes.  While, the top film this weekend was kind of a given, the real story is the unbelievable success of the film in second place.

     National Treasure: Book of Secrets again topped the box office this weekend.  The Disney adventure picture found another $35.6 million this weekend, representing a 20% drop from a week ago.  While this is probably a bit larger than the Disney execs would like to see, it was somewhat expected given that the film was a sequel.  Sequels normally open larger and drop more quickly than their predecessors, and this holds true for Book of Secrets as well.  You see, normally 20% is a tiny drop, but given the holiday season and the family nature of the film, it’s a bit large.  Still, the Nicholas Cage film (actually, I prefer to think of it as a Justin Bartha [pictured above] film- he’s infinitely more entertaining as second banana, Riley) is doing very well, and with a great $9,299 per theater average, it should keep playing for many weeks to come.  After ten days, National Treasure: Book of Secrets has earned $124 million.
     As I said, the real story of the weekend is the second placed film, Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Now in it’s third weekend, the adaptation of the popular 60’s cartoons has been unstoppable at the box office.  After a stunning $44.3 million opening, it fell a small 35% to $28.1 million, and this weekend, the CGI chipmunk film increased 6% to $30 million.  For a movie with such awful reviews, its performance is fairly surprising, but the Fox film was marketed well, and it firmly established itself as the first holiday offering for families of young children.  With a running total of $142.4 million, the question now is: Can Alvin and the Chipmunks outgross National Treasure?  Based on its per venue average of $8,611, a long theater run and a $200 million gross seem entirely attainable, but you’ll have to stay posted to see just how far it can go.

     Will Smith holds onto the third place spot with I Am Legend.  The vampire/zombie/apocalyptic action thriller dropped 18% to $27.5 million this weekend.  I Am Legend has been making Sony very happy for three weeks now, and after just 17 days, it already ranks as the 9th most successful film of 2007 (Check back tomorrow for 2007’s Top 50).  Based on its $7,570 venue average, it looks like I Am Legend has enough steam left in it to surpass Men In Black‘s $250 million gross and become Smith’s highest grossing film in ten years.  So far, it’s earned a box-office saving $194.6 million.

     Charlie Wilson’s War performed better than last weekend, increasing 7% to $11.8 million over the last three days.  Fantastic reviews, along with some good old-fashioned movie stars in Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts are keeping this picture going.  Since it has a much more adult audience, it’s guaranteed to have pretty good legs at the box office, for adults don’t rush out to the theaters to see films like teenagers do, and it might end up a rather solid performer.  Its per theater average of $4,570 is still not great, but it’s better than last week, and with a little awards attention, it should go much further.  After ten days, Universal’s Charlie Wilson’s War has made $34.5 million.

     In fifth place is Juno, the movie that audiences love to love.  Out of just 998 theaters, Juno earned a fantastic $10.3 million, giving it the best venue average in the Top 12 with a stunning $10,321.   Trendier and more marketable than Little Miss Sunshine ever was, the teen pregnancy comedy has caught on, and it is one of the few films I can remember that actually outperforms its own buzz.  Screenwriter Diablo Cody has received major attention for the screenplay and leading actress Ellen Page is almost guaranteed a few awards for her work.  With a miniscule budget, a great cast, a killer soundtrack, and endlessly positive word of mouth, Juno should keep making Fox Searchlight very, very happy.  It has earned an incredible $25.7 million after four weekends.

     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem couldn’t crack the Top 5 in its opening weekend, earning $10 million.  Earlier this week, AVP:R earned $9.5 million on just its first day, so this figure is nothing to get excited about.  Neither is the low $3,849 per theater average.  Expect the sci-fi actionfest to keep crumbling very quickly from here, for unlike Charlie Wilson’s War, this has a very young audience who all rush to see the film as soon as they can.  After 6 days, the Fox movie has made $26.7 million.

     The Water Horse continued to perform poorly, earning a small $9.2 million in its first weekend.  I couldn’t imagine a less exciting ad campaign that The Water Horse‘s, and audiences have met the film with a resounding blah.  When it comes to the box office, slow and steady doesn’t win the race.  With a bad per theater average of $3,319, Sony’s fantasy flick has earned a sad $16.8 million.
     For no apparent reason, P.S. I Love You surged a great 40% this weekend to $9 million.  The poorly reviewed Hilary Swank romantic comedy from Warner Brothers earned a bad $6.5 million last weekend, but it did well for itself over the past few days.  It still had a low venue average of $3,693, but it can probably make it to $40 million by the end of its run.  So far, P.S. I Love You has earned $23.4 million.
     Sweeney Todd fell 14% to $8 million this weekend for ninth place.  Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s dreary musical does not have the mass playability of Hairspray or Chicago, but it’s done marginally well for itself.  With some awards attention, it could go pretty far.  Still only playing in 1,249 theaters, Sweeney Todd had a solid $6,405 per theater average, so it’ll stick around for a while.  Thus far, the Paramount/Dreamworks musical has bagged $26.7 million.

     Showing the greatest staying power of any film in the Top 12, Enchanted lost 490 theaters this weekend, but still increased a whopping 54% for a $6.5 million weekend.  The Disney comedy starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Susan Sarandon had a per theater average of $2,874, which is fantastic for a film in its sixth weekend.  So far the magical blockbuster has conjured up a terrific $110.7 million.
     MGM and Oprah’s The Great Debaters played pretty well out of just 1,171 theaters.  The well reviewed debating movie starring Denzel Washington earned $6.3 million, which is pretty good for a relatively unknown movie.  It had a pretty good $5,383 venue average, but it will need a lot of awards buzz to really qualify as a success.  So far, The Great Debaters has made $13.6 million in six days.
     The Golden Compass held on for one last weekend in the Top 12, with just $4.3 million.  The expensive New Line failure dropped 1,018 theaters going into the weekend, and with a bad $2,248 per theater average, it will drop the rest fairly quickly.  (Note to Hollywood: Do not put Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in the same movie- it will fail.  Earlier this year, those two led $80 million production The Invasion to a measly $15 million finish.)  After four weekends, The Golden Compass has pulled in only $58 million.
Top 12 for December 28-30
# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $35,632,000 $124,035,000
2 Alvin and the Chipmunks $30,000,000 $142,374,569
3 I Am Legend $27,525,000 $194,600,000
4 Charlie Wilson’s War $11,767,750 $34,506,180
5 Juno $10,300,000 $25,681,218
6 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $10,050,000 $26,880,017
7 The Water Horse $9,200,000 $16,821,000
8 P.S. I Love You $9,100,000 $23,398,000
9 Sweeney Todd $8,000,000 $26,719,000
10 Enchanted $6,500,000 $110,650,000
11 The Great Debaters $6,304,000 $13,548,000
12 The Golden Compass $4,350,000 $58,000,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Friday Estimates: Treasure Tops Charts, Predator Becomes Prey

December 29, 2007

     Friday numbers are in, and the box office is thriving.  We’re headed for some very solid weekend totals based on these Friday results, and many holdovers will see increases in their weekend-to-weekend grosses.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets should hold onto the top spot this weekend, with a Friday gross of $12.2 million.  I saw this movie last night, and it was one of the silliest, stupidest, most preposterous, wildly entertaining movies I have seen in quite some time.  (Thank goodness Justin Bartha’s comic timing balances out Cage’s ridiculous maxims…) I let go of all my movie-buff pretentiousness, leaned back in my seat, and had a wonderful time.  It’s certainly family friendly enough to keep pulling in families, and it has the Disney brand name, so it should have a pretty good weekend multiplier.  Book of Secrets looks headed for a $40 weekend.
     Alvin and the Chipmunks flexed its box office muscle last night, holding off I Am Legend for the second place spot.  With $10.4 million, Alvin increased a great 24% from last Friday, while I Am Legend fell a small 16% to $9.2 million.  Fox’s rodent comedy should finish the weekend with about $33 million, and Warner Brothers’ sci-fi thriller might pull in $28 million.

     Also increasing from last weekend, Charlie Wilson’s War pulled in a solid $3.9 million, and with a probable $11 million weekend, the Universal political dramedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts is on its way to redeeming its slow start.
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem lost some major steam going into the weekend, placing fifth on Friday with $3.4 million.  It appears that the fanboys really did all see AVP:R on opening night, so this should have a pretty bad holiday multiplier.  Look for just over $9 million this weekend.
     Juno will pass the aforementioned alien thriller by the end of the weekend.  After earning $3.3 million on Friday, the Ellen Page comedy should earn about $10 million over three days.
     The Water Horse continued to behave exactly like the legend of the Loch Ness monster- except for a few witnesses, no one has seen it.  With $3.2 million on Friday, it could earn just under $10 million over the weekend, giving it a small $20 million overall.

     Among the rest of the films, P.S. I Love You did better than last weekend, with $3 million on Friday.  Sweeney Todd revealed some of its front-loadedness with an alright $2.7 million.  And The Great Debaters pulled in a small $2 million (though Enchanted did better with $2.3 million).
Friday Estimates for December 28
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $12.2 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $10.4 million
3. I Am Legend – $9.2 million
4. Charlie Wilson’s War – $3.9 million
5. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem – $3.4 million
6. Juno – $3.3 million
7. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep – $3.2 million
8. P.S. I Love You – $3 million
9. Sweeney Todd – $2.7 million
10. Enchanted – $2.3 million
11. The Great Debaters – $2 million
12. The Golden Compass – $1.5 million

Weekend Preview: Treasure, Legend, Alvin Look To Lead Again

December 28, 2007

     In the last weekend of 2007, the box office is primed for a highly lucrative three days.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets will continue its dominance atop the charts, and the box office rankings should look extremely similar to the Christmas day charts since no new movies open on Friday.  The lack of Friday openers is not a problem though- in the last ten days, nine movies have gone wide, so there will still be abundant business at the multiplex.

     All of the returning films should hold almost exactly where they performed last weekend, and a few might even see a bump in their weekend grosses.  National Treasure has got the top spot in the bag.  A $42 million weekend would give the Disney film a great $130 million overall.  Alvin and the Chipmunks (which just keeps making money!) and I Am Legend will be neck and neck for second place, each of them earning about $28 million, for totals of $140 million and $195 million, respectively.

     Among the newcomers, Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem should do the best.  The gory extra-terrestrial thriller was slaughtered by critics, but that didn’t stop super-enthusiastic fanboys from rushing out to see it on opening night.  On Tuesday, AVP:R opened with a terrific $9.5 million.  But then it crumbled to $4.4 million on Wednesday, and then all the way down to $2.9 million on Thursday,  This is a textbook case of a front-loaded geek movie, which starts strong and then falls fast.  The next three days will probably be smaller than AVP:R‘s first three days, and the Fox film should earn about $13 million, for a $30 million total.
     Teen pregnancy comedy, Juno, has done wonderfully for itself, and it has been picking up steam as it continues to expand.  Audiences love this movie.  This week, it added $9 million to its overall total gross for a sweet $15.4 million total, and it should add another $8-9 million this weekend, which would give the indie Fox Searchlight film a fabulous $23 million total.
     Walden Media and Sony’s, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep had an underwhelming opening week, earning just $7.6 million.  Judging by the ads, the children’s fantasy did look quite bland, but the reviews are actually very good.  Nonetheless, it should continue to perform disappointingly, and The Water Horse will pull in about $8 million for the weekend.

     The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington’s Oscar bait, has earned $7.2 million this week, with half of that total coming from its Christmas day gross.  While this is good for the small film, it appears that this film might be a bit front-loaded as well, which leaves me asking, could Oprah have fanboys?!  Reviews are good, but excitement is low for The Great Debaters, and it might rack up about $6.5 million.
Predicted Top 12 for December 28-30
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $42 million
2. I Am Legend – $28 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $27.5 million
4. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem – $13 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $10 million
6. Juno – $8.5 million
7. The Water Horse – $8 million
8. Sweeney Todd – $8 million
9. P.S. I Love You – $7.5 million
10. The Great Debaters – $6.5 million
11. Enchanted – $6 million
12. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – $4 million

Christmas Grosses and The 5-Day Weekend

December 27, 2007

     You may not realize it, but each year, Christmas Day is one of the biggest box office days of the year.  Millions of North Americans flood into movie theaters after celebrating Christmas in the morning, and movies do quite well for themselves.  This Christmas was no exception.  This year, the Top 12 films earned a combined $62.7 million, which almost equals the entire weekend Top 12 from a few weeks ago!  The fact that Christmas Day is so huge at the movies always surprises me, because until I started following the box office a few years ago, I thought no one left their house on Christmas, but this is certainly not the case.  In fact, this was the biggest Christmas day box office in history!  National Treasure: Book of Secrets  captured the third best Christmas Day gross ever, and I Am Legend continued to dominate, while Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem had a great opening day as well:
Top 12 for Christmas Day
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $13.7 million
2. I Am Legend – $9.8 million
3. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem – $9.5 million
4. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $6 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $4.3 million
6. The Great Debaters – $3.6 million
7. Sweeney Todd – $3.2 million
8. P.S. I Love You – $3.9 million
9. Juno – $2.8 million
10. The Water Horse – $2.4 million
11. The Golden Compass – $2 million
12. Walk Hard – $1.5 million
     Now, onto the five-day weekend.  As I’ve said, during the holidays, every day is pretty much part of the weekend, and all movies see incredible bumps in their grosses.  Still, for whatever reason, the five-day weekend is still a figure that box office analysts love to look at.  Thus, I’ve put together this chart of the Top 20 earners for the past five days.  The box office looks 100% different than it did two weeks ago, proving that there truly is no other time at the movies like late December.
Top 20 for December 21-25
# Movie Title 5-Day Weekend Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $65.4 million $65.4 million
2 I Am Legend $47.7 million $151 million
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks $38.6 million $94.5 million
4 Charlie Wilson’s War $16 million $16 million
5 Sweeney Todd $13.6 million $13.6 million
6 P.S. I Love You $10 million $10 million
7 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $9.5 million $9.5 million
8 The Golden Compass $7 million $51.4 million
9 Juno $6.8 million $9.8 million
10 Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story $6.3 million $6.3 million
11 Enchanted $6.2 million $100.4 million
12 The Great Debaters $3.6 million $3.6 million
13 Atonement $2.9 million $6.7 million
14 No Country For Old Men $2.8 million $37.8 million
15 The Water Horse $2.4 million $2.4 million
16 The Kite Runner $2 million $2.7 million
17 The Perfect Holiday $1.3 million $4.9 million
18 This Christmas $1.3 million $48.2 million
19 Fred Claus $1.2 million $71 million
20 August Rush $0.6 million $29.7 million

Weekend Fix: National Treasure Lives Up To Its Name

December 23, 2007

     Led by the solid opening of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the box office continued to perform strongly this weekend.  Despite the rather tepid debuts of some of the openers, I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks held well enough to sustain the overall box office.  During the December 21-23 frame, the Top 12 films earned a cumulative $153.5 million, up 1% from last weekend, and a great 41% from the same weekend last year, when Night At The Museum opened in the top spot.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets struck gold this weekend at the movies, getting off to a great start with $45.5 million in its debut.  The Disney adventure film blazed onto the scene in a huge 3,832 theaters, but it still racked up a very good $11,874 venue average.  Being a Disney film, Book of Secrets has a good deal of family playability, so it should remain a prominent force throughout the holiday season.  The original National Treasure opened in November, 2004 with $35 million, but held wonderfully through the holidays, eventually making a delightful $173 million.  This gave National Treasure a terrific 4.9 multiplier, and while Book of Secrets probably won’t see such small drops (it had an internal multiplier of 2.7, which is low, but typical for sequels), it should still perform very solidly throughout the Winter season.  It should hit $100 million in a week or so, with much more to come in the new year.

     I Am Legend held up the second spot quite nicely, dropping 56% to $34.2 million for the weekend.  The Warner Brothers sci-fi thriller retained an incredible second weekend per theater average of $9,454, which proves its popularity among audiences and assures that it will retain its theater count.  I Am Legend should be Will Smith’s biggest film since 1997’s Men In Black, which grossed $250 million.  After ten days, I Am Legend has earned a great $137.5 million, well on its way to the $200 million club.
     Also dropping one spot from last weekend is Alvin and the Chipmunks.  The CGI rodent comedy continues to astound me with its phenomenal performance (just look at its reviews!), and this weekend it stole another $29 million from innocent families, which represents a small 35% drop.  The Fox comedy also retained a great venue average with $8,288 in each theater.  Alvin is doing a great job of filling the void left by The Golden Compass, and it is the go-to choice for families of the kindergarten set.  It has earned an amazing $84.9 million in two weekends.

     Charlie Wilson’s War comes in fourth place this weekend, earning a rather small $9.6 million in its opening frame.  The Universal political comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts failed to effectively communicate its story in its advertising campaign.  It’s war-themed nature didn’t help either.  As I see it, people go to the movies for escapism, not to see more of the depressing stuff that’s already on TV, and I’ll say this until the day that I die: If you want your movie to succeed, show audiences that they will have FUN by seeing it.  Even with a small $3,735 per theater average, Charlie Wilson’s War‘s performance is not a disaster.  During the holidays, weekend figures are not as important, and since no one has school or work, movies play well during the week as well, so if this film can build some significant awards buzz (and it boasts some good reviews), it could save itself.  We’ll have to wait and see.     In fifth, Sweeney Todd sang its way to the tune of a $9.4 million opening.  Being a Tim Burton film, this comes with a built-in cult audience who rush out to see his films on opening night, and with a 2.4 internal multiplier, it had a very front-loaded weekend.  Playing in just 1,249 venues, Sweeney Todd grabbed a nice $7,486 per theater average.  Dreamworks’ gory slasher musical (there’s a first) has earned great reviews, and it should perform pretty well in the coming weeks.

     P.S. I Love You performed as expected, earning a modest $6.5 million in its opening weekend.  The Warner Brothers romantic comedy, which stars Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler , has a small per theater average of $2,651.  There was nothing that made this film stand out form the crowd, and it looked generic and sappy.  Once again we see that just because an actress wins an Oscar (or two in this case) doesn’t mean she can open a film.
     In its fifth weekend, Enchanted displayed its staying power, dropping just 25% to $4.2 million.  The magical Disney comedy has done very well for itself, and after five weeks, it has earned a fantastic $98.5 million.

     The biggest shock of the weekend has to be the awful performance of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.  Walk Hard, a Sony film, flopped with a terrible $4.1 million opening.  Though it boasts great reviews, its advertising (which featured tremendously creative commercials of an older Dewey Cox) didn’t give audiences a clear idea of what to expect.  Also, Judd Apatow, the producer of the spoof, may only have drawing power when it comes to what made him famous: the raunchy sex comedy.  With a very bad $1,547 per theater average, Walk Hard will unfortunately not last very long.
     New Line’s The Golden Compass continued its utter free-fall this weekend, earning just $4 million, a 55% decrease.  This cold film has not caught on with audiences, who want to feel good during the holidays, and the hugely expensive fantasy film has earned just $48.4 million after three weekends.

     In tenth place, Juno continued to impress with a great $3.4 million out of just 304 theaters.  The teen pregnancy comedy has been surrounded by almost deafening buzz, and it is totally living up to it.  With a stunning $11,184 venue average, Juno has everything going for it, and it is catching on in a big way with audiences.  It’s kind of wonderful to see a smart, fresh, independent comedy garner such massive amounts of interest, and when it goes wide on Christmas day, it should continue to perform very strongly.  So Juno it has made $6.4 million.
     Atonement, another film with tons of awards potential, had a good weekend as well.  Expanding into 297 theaters, the Focus feature earned $2 million, giving it a solid $6,648 per theater average.  With tons of awards on the way, it should do well over the next month.  So far, Atonement has grossed a strong $5.7 million.
     Back in twelfth, No Country For Old Men dropped 40% to $1.7 million.  The Miramax thriller, which is almost assured a Best Picture nomination, has grossed a smashing $36.7 million after seven weekends.
     Overall, though there were some dull openings, things remained bright at the box office this weekend.  It’s important to keep in mind that opening weekends don’t matter as much during the holiday season, so while some of the figures may be rather low, for the box office, the next two weeks are virtually an extended weekend, where movies do incredible business.
Top Twelve for December 21-23
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $45.5 million
2. I Am Legend – $34.2 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $29 million
4. Charlie Wilson’s War – $9.6 million
5. Sweeney Todd – $9.4 million
6. P.S. I Love You – $6.5 million
7. Enchanted – $4.2 million
8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – $4.1 million
9. The Golden Compass – $4 million
10. Juno – $3.4 million
11. Atonement – $2 million
12. No Country For Old Men – $1.7 million
*All numbers courtesy of Exhibitor Relations

Friday Estimates: Treasure Succeeds, Walk Hard Falls Hard

December 23, 2007

     Friday numbers are in, and while the chart looks like it’s turning out pretty close to the predictions in the Weekend Preview, there are two surprising disappointments: Walk Hard and Charlie Wilson’s War.

     National Treasure: Book of Secrets opened very well on Friday, pulling in $17.1 million.  With Christmas Eve on Monday, and most people (who don’t work retail) out of work, it should see some inflated Sunday numbers and have a great multiplier.  It will be interesting to see whether this sequel is as leggy as its predecessor, and if it might ultimately beat I Am Legend in a race for the holiday crown.  For the weekend, Book of Secrets should find about $55 million .
     Sweeney Todd earned a solid $3.9 million from just 1,249 theaters, and a great per theater average should result.  It’s on its way to about $13 million for the weekend.
     Charlie Wilson’s War earned a small $2.8 million.  Looks like the trend of moviegoers rejecting war-themed, political movies continues with Charlie Wilson’s War, and even with Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks as draws, it should make a disappointing $9 million for the weekend.
     P.S. I Love You opened within expectations, earning $2.4 million on its first day.  The sappy romantic comedy looks headed for an $8 million weekend.
     The biggest surprise of the weekend has to be Walk Hard‘s awful opening.  On its first day the spoof earned a tiny $1.5 million.  It appears that the movie truly was too smart for people to really understand that it was a comedy.   Also, while Walk Hard‘s advertising campaign has been remarkably innovative, it was perhaps too difficult for the average person to get the joke.  It will struggle to earn $5 million.
Friday Estimates for December 21
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $17.1 million
2. I Am Legend – $11 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $8.5 million
4. Sweeney Todd – $3.9 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $2.8 million
6. P.S. I Love You – $2.4 million
7. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – $1.5 million
8. Enchanted – $1.3 million
9. The Golden Compass – $1.2 million
10. Juno – $970,000
11. Atonement – $530,000
12. No Country For Old Men – $480,000

Weekend Preview: National Treasure Should Strike Gold

December 21, 2007

     After two movies singlehandedly saved the box office last weekend, the latest crop of newcomers has a lot to live up to.  Luckily, this weekend, five extremely diverse wide releases hit theaters, offering something for every moviegoer.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets explodes onto the scene with rollicking adventure.  Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story brings some spoof comedy to the table.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street sings a few eerie show tunes.  Charlie Wilson’s War  provides some star-studded dramedy.  And P.S. I Love You fills the romantic comedy slot.  As if that wasn’t enough for you, another four films go wide on Christmas day!  That’s right, folks, we’ve officially reached the holiday season.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets should easily top the box office this weekend.  Back in 2005, the original National Treasure was a surprise juggernaut.  The film followed Nicholas Cage as a treasure hunter, who was on the hunt for a secret American treasure.  An adventure film for conspiracy theorists, the film was a ludicrous Da Vinci Code rip off, but it didn’t pretend to be anything else.  The Jerry Bruckheimer adventure was pure, popcorn-munching fun, and Disney marketed it perfectly.  After a good $35 million opening, it struck a chord with audiences, endured through the holiday season, and went on to gross a sensational $173 million.  A franchise was born.
     Book of Secrets sticks to the proven formula, pitting Nic Cage against a band villains in a race to find a “city of gold” that was hidden by America’s founding fathers.  Critics love to trash this kind of movie, and reviews (which won’t matter much for this movie) are equally mediocre to the original, but I have to admit, National Treasure is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  It’s got a great sense of humor, and though the plot is preposterous, it provides moviegoers with the main thing that they are seeking: FUN!  So many studios forget to advertise the fact that you will have fun if you go see their movie, but Disney, the best advertiser in the business, always sells this point.  Diane Kruger, Harvey Kietel, John Voight, Justin Bartha, and Helen Mirren all star in this swashbuckling installment, for which Disney is already planning subsequent sequels.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets should open bigger than the original, and it could outpace I Am Legend by the end of its run.  It’s opening in a massive 3,832 theaters, and it might earn a big $50 million over the weekend.

     Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, a movie produced by the on-fire Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad), is spoof of the musical biopic.  Starring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer, Walk Hard sends up Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan, among others.  Reviews are very good, and it’s exciting to see a true spoof movie- not simply a rehash of famous scenes, like the dreadful Epic/Date/Scary Movie.  I’m a bit concerned that Walk Hard could be too smart for its own good, for some of the ads make it somewhat hard to tell that this is a spoof, and that could confuse potential moviegoers.  However, the Apatow brand is absurdly strong, and he is really the main draw for this feature, so it should still perform well.  Playing in 2,650 venues, Sony’s Walk Hard might rock its way to a $14 million opening.

     Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in the fast-talking political comedy, Charlie Wilson’s War.  Set during the Cold War, Tom Hanks plays the title character, a womanizing, slick U.S. Senator who finds himself feeling suddenly convicted to improve the world.   He consequently convinces the CIA to train fighters in Afghanistan that will help fend off the Soviet Union. As a marketable concept, this is questionable.  War-themed movies like The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs, have failed at the box office lately, and the story is too complex to advertise effectively.  Universal is relying completely on star power from America’s favorite actor and actress to carry Charlie Wilson’s War to success.  Much like last year’s The Good Shepherd, this plays to an older audience, and while its opening might be smaller, it should have great legs.  Reviews are pretty good, and it’s garnered some awards attention, which will help its business substantially.  Still, though, with exciting choices like I Am Legend and National Treasure: Book of Secrets playing, it could be easy to overlook Charlie Wilson’s War.  In 2,574 theaters, it should earn about $14 million this weekend.

     Sweeney Todd is the latest film from Tim Burton, so it should come as no surprise that it stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, who seem to star in every Burton project these days.  Sweeney Todd is a strange story about a man named Benjamin Barker who escapes from prison and takes on the identity of Sweeney Todd.  He does this to exact revenge on the judge who originally imprisoned him, and he kills many people in this grisly revenge movie.  What makes all this even more interesting is that Sweeney Todd is a full musical, adapted from the stage show by Stephen Sondheim.  Full of creepy, macabre music and fine acting performances, critics are hailing Burton’s direction, and the film has received wonderful reviews.  Sweeney Todd is opening in just 1,249 theaters, but advertising has been strong, and Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have a built-in fan base.  This should result in a very solid per theater average and $13 million weekend.

     The final new wide release of the weekend is P.S. I Love You, a romantic comedy starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.  Swank plays a woman whose husband (Butler) has just passed away.  As it turns out, her husband knew he was dying and left her a series of letters to help her transition out of her grief and back into life.  Though the concept is sweet, Hillary Swank isn’t the right woman for this kind of role.  She lacks the cute, girly factor that is so necessary in a romantic comedy, and after Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry, it’s tough for audiences to accept her outside of strong, dramatic roles.  On top of this, there simply isn’t very much excitement for this film, and reviews are very bad.  Produced by Warner Brothers, P.S. I Love You is being released in 2,454 theaters, and it should earn about $7 million over the next three days.
     Among the returning films, I Am Legend should place second.  It’s shown decreasing grosses during its weekdays, which signifies a rather large drop for this weekend.  A 55% drop would give it $34 million for the weekend and a marvelous $136 million overall.  Alvin and the Chipmunks should hold better because of its family-friendly nature.  As sad as it makes me, Alvin might pull in an additional $26 million this weekend, for an $81 million total.  After multiple award nominations in almost every circle of critics, Juno and Atonement both expand into about 300 theaters this weekend.  They should each see their weekend grosses increase to about $3.6 million and $3 million, respectively.
Predicted Top 12 for December 21-23
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $50 million
2. I Am Legend – $34 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $26 million
4. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – $14 million
5. Charlie Wilson’s War – $13 million
6. Sweeney Todd – $12 million
7. P.S. I Love You – $7 million
8. The Golden Compass – $4.5 million
9. Enchanted – $3.8 million
10. Juno – $3.6 million
11. Atonement – $3 million
12. No Country For Old Men – $2.3 million