Archive for the ‘The Great Debaters’ Category

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.

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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

Christmas Preview: Four More Films Go Wide

December 25, 2007

     Welcome to today’s Christmas Preview, which will be short and to the point (because hey, even box office analysts need some family time on Christmas Eve).  On Christmas Day, four films enter an already crowded marketplace, each hoping to carve out its own niche at the box office.
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is a sequel to 2004’s $80 million hit Alien Vs. Predator.  Full of gore, blood, grisly deaths, blood, and gore, this gory bloodbath of a thriller was not screened for critics, which is never promising for its reviews, though it should still have the best opening week of the newcomers.  Any success it finds will be based solely on the success of the Alien and Predator franchises, since this has pretty much no star power.  AVP:R (that’s the ridiculous, abbreviated title its going by) opens in 2,653 theaters, and if it performs well, it will obvi have anoth lame sequel, but whatev.  I’m thinking it can bag $17 million in the days before the weekend.

     The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, a Walden Media production, is the story of a young Scottish boy who discovers a strange water creature.  He befirends it and raises it up in his bathtub, until it becomes too large for him to keep in the house.  Forced to move it into the lake, the boy must try to keep the creature a secret as it grows into the Loch Ness monster.  The trailers are nice, though unexciting, but it should still have an alright box office run because of the lack of competition.  If Alvin and the Chipmunks can make $85 million in ten days, then there is certainly room for another, better reviewed film aimed at the under ten set.  In 2,772 theaters, The Water Horse might pull in $14 million over the next three days.

     The Great Debaters was a movie I hadn’t heard of until it garnered a surprise Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture.  Produced by Oprah’s production company, Harpo, The Great Debaters is an inspirational teacher drama starring Denzel Washington.  It chronicles the journey of Wiley College’s all black debate team, and their fight to gain acceptance in an all white competition in the 1930’s.  With good reviews, The Great Debaters can rely on Denzel’s presence to draw in some crowds, but it will need some awards attention to transcend the expected box office for this rather generic story.  Opening in 1,164 venues, it could earn $6 million until the weekend.
     Juno, Fox Searchlight’s popular teen pregnancy comedy (which I previously wrote about here) expands into 998 theaters on Christmas, and it should see some great returns.  Juno might take in an additional $8 million in the time before Friday.
     The rest of the movies’ weekly totals should just about equal their previous weekend grosses, and this is where the power of holiday box office can be seen at work, and small opening numbers can be redeemed.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!