Archive for the ‘Will Smith’ 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.

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The Top Ten Box Office Stars (Allegedly)

January 6, 2009

Each year, the Quigley Publishing Company conducts a poll to answer the question: Who are the top ten box office draws? Via Quigley’s website:

“The Quigley Poll, conducted each year since 1932, is an annual survey of motion picture theatre owners and film buyers, which asks them to vote for the ten stars that they believe generated the most box-office revenue for their theatres during the year. Long regarded as one of the most reliable indicators of a Star’s real box-office draw because the selections are done by people whose livelihood depends on choosing the films that will bring audiences to their theatres.”

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of these generic “End of the Year Top Ten” lists, but the above explanation shows that this is not just a list founded on emotion and trendiness- it’s founded on economic viability, as concluded by the collective group of theater owners. Plus, the poll does hold a certain degree of authority, since it’s been published in the International Motion Picture Almanac for the past 77 years. So without further ado, here’s the list of stars, along with the 2008 films in which they starred:

1. Will Smith (Hancock, Seven Pounds)
2. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Tropic Thunder)
3. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
4. Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones; New York, I Love You; Eagle Eye)
5. Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones)
6. Adam Sandler (Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Bedtime Stories)
7. Reese Witherspoon (Four Christmases)
8. George Clooney (Leatherheads, Burn After Reading)
9. Angelina Jolie (Kung Fu Panda – voice, Changeling, Wanted)
10. Daniel Craig (Quantum Of Solace, Defiance)

I think that the list is pretty accurate overall, though I would question how much drawing power Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig actually have. I’m more inclined to give the edge in drawing power to Indiana Jones and James Bond over the actors who play them. Yes, they each had a blockbuster that came out this year that made a ton of money, but their stars definitely didn’t make big hits out of 2006’s Firewall ($48 million), or 2007’s The Golden Compass ($70 million vs. its $205 million budget) and The Invasion ($15 million). Sometimes you can be in many successful films, but not be a huge draw in your own right- just ask Elizabeth Banks. In fact, if you look only at raw box office numbers, you know who the biggest star of this entire decade is? Stan Lee.

What about you? Who is your personal box office draw? Mine is definitely Ryan Gosling- I’ve been a total convert ever since I saw him in Lars And The Real Girl.

Weekend Fix: Audiences Say "Eh" Instead of "Yes" To New Releases

December 21, 2008

In the final frame before Christmas this year, the box office was in sorry shape. With a lackluster slate of new releases that failed to take full advantage of the holiday, and snow storms across the Northeast, the Top 12 raked in just $82 million, down a whopping 45% from the same weekend a year ago. Yes Man topped the charts, with Seven Pounds and The Tale Of Despereaux following in second and third, but all three of the new releases failed to really break out.

Jim Carrey’s antic-laden comedy, Yes Man, earned $18 million this weekend at the multiplex. Considering 2007 saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets debut to $44 million during the same weekend last December, this is not a great result. With poor reviews and a tired concept, Yes Man failed to provide audiences with something new, and it paid the price. Yes Man looked like a 1990’s comedy, and with its underwhelming debut, people made it very clear that they currently prefer the Apatow-style of comedy, which is fast-paced and raunchy, but soulful. The Warner Brothers release had a $5,288 per theater average, which is mediocre for a new release, but all is not lost for Yes Man. The silver lining here is that we are in late December, where every day acts like a weekend day, so the comedy should be leggier than most, but this still has to be a disappointment for both the studio and Carrey, who needs to pursue more dramatic roles, like in The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind. Personally, I’m excited for his role in 2010’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

Seven Pounds, the Sony-produced Will Smith drama, sputtered out of the gates, earning just $16 million in its first three days. Earning an alright $5,801 per theater, Seven Pounds actually had the highest venue average in the Top 12, which shows how weak the frame was overall. The big problem here was in the advertising. From the trailer and commercials, it was almost impossible to figure out what this movie was about, which is never a good strategy for promoting a film. The bad reviews didn’t help things, either. The real loser in this equation, though, has got to be Will Smith, who was hoping for his 9th $100 million earner with Seven Pounds. Up until this point, Smith was untouchable among stars. Unfortunately, with a $16 million dollar opening, this probably won’t stick around nearly as long as December 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness ($163 million finish) or December 2007’s I Am Legend ($256 million finish). It could be that Smith’s recent donations to the Church of Scientology (oxymoron?) are having a Tom Cruise Effect on his career. All I have to say is, “Don’t become crazy, Will!”

The final new release this weekend was The Tale Of Despereaux, which opened to $10.5 million. The Universal film about a gallant mouse got middling reviews, and proved for the umpteenth time that releasing an animated movie is a task best left to Dreamworks or Disney. It seems like whenever a studio (that is not Pixar) tries to release a detailed, realistic-looking animated film, it doesn’t work out at the box office. Films like Ice Age, Madagascar, or Open Season, which have zanier, exaggerated animation, tend to do better. Despereaux had a disappointing per theater average of $3,810, and I fully expect it to get left in the dust when Disney’s Bedtime Stories debuts on Christmas Day.

Among holdovers, drops were a bit steeper than expected, mostly due to the snow storms across the Northeast (and as someone who was in Connecticut during the snow storms, I can attest: there was a lot of snow). Fox’s sci-fi actioner, The Day The Earth Stood Still, nosedived 67% this weekend, earning $10 million for a $48.6 million total. This is yet another case of The Fanboy Effect. Warner Brothers’ well-performing Four Christmases fell 41% to $7.7 million as it crossed the $100 million mark, while Summit’s Twilight continued to show it’s resilience, as it’s 34% drop was the smallest in the Top 12. It earned an additional $5.2 million for a fantastic $158.4 million total.

Disney’s Bolt fell 43% to $4.3 million, as it inches its way closer to the $100 million plateau. The animated dog feature has performed admirably over the past few weeks, and it currently sits with $95 million. Not so lucky was Fox’s Australia, the overblown epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Down 44% to $2.3 million, the insanely expensive Baz Luhrmann film has a disappointing total of just $41 million. At the bottom tier of the Top 12, Quantum of Solace fell 42% to $2.1 million, Milk dropped 37% to $1.6 million, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa declined 53% to $1.5 million. Totals are $161.3 million, $10.3 million, and $172.3 million, respectively.

Up above, I skipped over the one real bright spot of the weekend: Slumdog Millionaire. The Fox Searchlight feature, which audiences and critics are loving, expanded into 589 theaters and earned $3.2 million over the weekend. This was good for a venue average of $5,388, the second-best in the Top 12. The most palatable of this year’s Oscar bait, Slumdog Millionaire has already earned $12 million, and with many awards on the way, look for the Danny Boyle film to keep chugging right along for the next few weeks.

Next weekend brings us seven new wide releases: Amusement, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, Revolutionary Road, Spirit, and Valkyrie. These releases should bring a much-needed dose of flavor to the movies, which will hopefully redeem the performances this weekend. Regardless, with that many new films, things should be interesting… Here’s the chart:

Top 12 for December 19-21

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 Yes Man $18,160,000 $18,160,000
2 Seven Pounds $16,000,000 $16,000,000
3 The Tale of Despereaux $10,507,040 $10,507,040
4 The Day The Earth Stood Still $10,150,000 $48,626,884
5 Four Christmases $7,745,000 $100,154,000
6 Twilight $5,227,000 $158,460,899
7 Bolt $4,256,000 $95,009,000
8 Slumdog Millionaire $3,150,000 $12,133,750
9 Australia $2,325,000 $41,947,337
10 Quantum Of Solace $2,150,000 $161,290,000
11 Milk $1,641,290 $10,322,173
12 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $1,510,000 $173,332,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

What do you think of this weekend’s box office? What went wrong? Do you think things will pick up next weekend? Write your answers in the comments!

Friday Estimates: I Got It Right(ish)!

December 20, 2008

I’m going to gloat a little bit. I was pretty darn close in my predictions for the weekend (except for Despereaux…), and I’m a little bit proud of myself. Take that Entertainment Weekly! Look’s like my little operation here at The Box Office Junkie was a heck of a lot more accurate than yours! To be fair, though, everyone everywhere overestimated. Bragging aside, it’s looking like Yes Man will take in about $18 million, Seven Pounds may find $16 million, and The Tale of Despereaux $11 million. Here are numbers for Friday:

Friday Estimates for December 19
1. Yes Man – $6.5 million
2. Seven Pounds – $5.3 million
3. The Tale Of Despereaux – $3.5 million
4. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $2.9 million
5. Four Christmases – $2.3 million
6. Twilight – $1.6 million
7. Bolt – $1 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire – $755,000
9. Austrailia – $625,000
10. Quantum Of Solace – $565,000
11. Milk – $425,000
12. Nothing Like The Holidays – $360,000

Weekend Preview: Jim Carrey vs. Will Smith In A Bipolar Box Office Frame

December 18, 2008

This weekend, the holiday season is officially here, and studios are hoping that with kids out of school, and parents off from work, the movies can rake in some serious cash. Timing wise, there’s no better space on the calendar to take advantage of the public’s holiday freedom. Last year, we had National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Enchanted, and I Am Legend all riding very high on their way to profitability So here’s my question: On one of the biggest weekends of the entire year, is this really the best Hollywood could do? Opening this Friday, we have the Jim Carrey screwball comedy, Yes Man, the Will Smith sobfest, Seven Pounds, and another CG animated film, The Tale Of Despereaux. Really, the battle is between Yes Man and Seven Pounds, as this weekend’s main offerings hit the two extremes of mainstream movie tastes. Although both films are headlined by established box office stars, thematically, they couldn’t be more different.

Warner Brothers’ Yes Man sees Jim Carrey in the kind of role that made him famous. That means over-the-top, exaggerated facial gestures, crazy voices, and general absurdity to boot. Yes Man is about a man who only says, “Yes,” and the way that that liberating mentality eventually becomes a hindrance. Sound familiar? Liar, Liar comes to mind… I’m not sure that audiences still love this version of Jim Carrey. His work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show showed he’s a versatile actor, but after straying a bit too far from his own persona in this years awful The Number 23, perhaps Carrey wanted to get back to his initial bread n’ butter. In the last few years, however, comedies have become much more fast-paced, quick-witted affairs, with snappy dialogue and wry humor. I don’t know that Ace Ventura would necessarily work in today’s marketplace, and that’s the problem with Yes Man. It doesn’t seem fresh; it seems like a retread. The reviews aren’t great at all, but it does stand out amongst all the Oscar dreck, and the lighthearted Jim Carrey film should find an audience. Opening in 3,434 theaters, look for Yes Man to pull in $18 million.

On the other side of the spectrum is Sony’s Seven Pounds, a dramatic film starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson that hopes to capture the same success as 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. The subject of this film has been exceedingly difficult to gather from the advertisements, which work hard to sell the film on Will Smith, rather than the convoluted premise. The official synopsis reads: “In the film, Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.” Not giving audiences a clear idea of the story is never a good idea, and I think Seven Pounds will ultimately pay for that. Still, Will Smith is a proven draw at the box office, and I expect that his latest inspirational drama will manage to pull in solid crowds throughout the holiday season. But Seven Pounds is not going over to well with critics, which diminishes much of its long term potential, and the story doesn’t look particularly uplifting- just very dour. I don’t see this matching The Pursuit of Happyness‘ $163 million run, and maybe not even The Bucket List‘s (a similarly-schmaltzy film) $93 million. Will Smith’s name will draw in viewers, though, and from 2,758 theaters, Seven Pounds might earn $17 million as well.

The final new wide release this weekend is Universal’s The Tale Of Despereaux, a computer-generated animated film about a heroic mouse’s adventures. I’m going to be frank. As long as the world is spoiled by the perfection that is Pixar, all other animated films will simply pale in comparison, both in the visuals and in the story. Despereaux doesn’t look to have too much going for it, other than being cute, but very few people know about the source material, and reviews are bad. Debuting in 3,104 theaters, I’m only seeing a $6 million weekend. Let’s just hope it doesn’t pull a Delgo

I know I must sound terribly Scrooge-like today, but I have to wonder how this weekend’s slate ended up at this. None of these films is a surefire, family-friendly tentpole release. I just cant wrap my mind around why Disney didn’t bump Bedtime Stories up to this weekend, or maybe they could have waited to release High School Musical 3 in December, so they could cash in on this lucrative season. I guess it’s no use crying over spilled egg nog, though, so I digress. Holdovers should be relatively soft, though former chart-topper The Day The Earth Stood Still might nonetheless see a 50% drop. Four Christmases should do well, and other family films should have the smallest drops in the Top 12. Also of note, Oscar-lock Slumdog Millionaire expands into 589 theaters this weekend, and it should find some success in doing so. Here are my predictions for the frame:

Predicted Top 12 For December 19-21
1. Yes Man – $18 million
2. Seven Pounds – $17 million
3. The Day The Earth Stood Still – $14 million
4. Four Christmases – $10 million
5. The Tale Of Despereaux – $6 million
6. Bolt – $5.7 million
7. Twilight – $5.5 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire – $3.3 million
9. Australia – $2.8 million
10. Quantum Of Solace – $2.6 million
11. Milk – $2.6 million
12. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $2.1 million

What about you? What are your predictions?

Will Smith – Box Office Gold

December 19, 2007

     I mentioned in the Weekend Fix that Will Smith was without a doubt, the biggest box office star around (unlike Terrence Howard).  For the last 12 years, Smith has not made a single bad move in his career choices.  Since his breakout in 1995’s Bad Boys, he has starred in huge movie after huge movie, including ten $100+ million successes.  Here’s an overview of his phenomenal career:

1995-1999

     Smith established himself as a great comedic action star in Bad Boys, Independence Day, Men In Black, Enemy of the State, and Wild Wild West.  His career was absolutely on fire, and each of these movies was HUGE.  Check out their box office:
1995 Bad Boys – $65 million
1996 Independence Day – $306 million
1997 Men In Black – $250 million
1998 Enemy of the State – $111 million
1999 Wild Wild West – $113 million
2000-2003

     He then took on some smaller roles in Ali and The Legend of Bagger Vance, and while they weren’t the blockbusters that he usually stars in, they helped legitimize him as a serious actor, and he even nabbed an Oscar nomination for his role as Muhammad Ali.  He then reprised his role in two sequels, Men In Black II and Bad Boys II, and he snapped right back into his blockbuster persona.  Here’s how he fared:
2000 The Legend of Bagger Vance – $30 million
2001 Ali – $58 million
2002 Men in Black II – $190 million
2003 Bad Boys II – $138 million
2004-now

     In the last four years, Will Smith has evolved into a jack of all trades.  He’s seen gigantic success in action titles (I, Robot; I Am Legend), an animated film (Shark Tale), a romantic comedy (Hitch), and a drama (The Pursuit of Happyness).  Audiences have welcomed him with open arms every step of the way.  He’s the most likable, popular actor in Hollywood, and he has continued his hot streak with I Am Legend’s record-breaking opening:
2004 I, Robot – $144 million
20o4 Shark Tale – $160 million
2005 Hitch – $167 million
2006 The Pursuit of Happyness – $163 million
2007 I Am Legend – $77.2 million (opening weekend)

Weekend Fix: A Truly Legendary Weekend

December 17, 2007

     What a weekend it was at the movies!  It’s hard to believe that the box office has been in a drought for the past few weeks, but it’s even harder to believe the flood of money that rained down over the past three days.  The number one movie alone grossed more than last week’s entire Top 12!  I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks had absolutely incredible starts this weekend, leading the Top 12 to earn a fantastic $151.9 million!  That means that the December 14-16 frame was saw a massive 109% increase over last weekend’s dismal total, and a great 36% increase from the same weekend last year, when Will Smith again led the box office with The Pursuit of Happyness, proving that among leading actors, his appeal is unmatched.

     I Am Legend lived up to its title this weekend, setting a new record for the best December opening of all time with a stunning $77.2 million debut.  This previous record holder, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, earned $72.6 million back in 2003, and no one thought that number was in any danger this weekend, but Will Smith came through in a huge way.  In a marketplace filled with old family films, lackluster thrillers, and Oscar bait, it looks like moviegoers were hungry for a good, old-fashioned popcorn movie, led by everyone’s favorite action star.  (Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of just how successful Will Smith’s career has been.)  The zombie action-fest had an awesome $21,411 per theater average, which assures huge bankability well into January.  This is going to be a massive cash cow for the folks at Warner Brothers, who must be giddy with these results.  You have to hand it to the studio, though.  They advertised the hell out of this movie, and they built excitement perfectly, so it’s great to see I Am Legend open so fantastically.  

     In what may be an even more surprising story, Alvin and the Chipmunks had a massive opening weekend, grossing a terrific $44.3 million for Fox.  As to why Fox (who also made Garfield…) decided to revive this old 60’s cartoon, I have no clue, but I guess it was a good move on their part.  I think studios were afraid to put anything up against The Golden Compass, which most everyone expected to be a gigantic family event.  However, The Golden Compass (which totes a PG-13 rating and negative controversy) scared away most families, leaving Alvin to face up against the last new family film, Enchanted, which is now four weeks old.  Families were ready for some lighthearted fair to take their kids too, especially now that children are going on break, and with little competition, Alvin and the Chipmunks was the go-to choice.  Terrible reviews didn’t affect Alvin‘s opening, and it nabbed a very strong $12,750 per theater average.  Because kids are out of school, family films play very well over the next few weeks, and Alvin and the Chipmunks (which cost $70 million to make) is guaranteed at least $100 million overall…. (Sigh) I swear, if this performance spawns a CGI adaptation of the Smurfs, may God have mercy on us all.
     The Golden Compass fell hard in its second weekend.  The $180 million fantasy epic dropped an alarming 66% in its second weekend, earning only $8.8 million.  Since it’s playing in so many theaters, it’s per theater average was a tepid $2,501.  This is nothing short of a disaster for New Line, who might not even earn back a third of the production budget.  Normally, healthy international receipts could make up for a disappointing domestic performance, but New Line sold away the international rights on this one.  This is quickly becoming one of the biggest flops in history, and its extremely doubtful the other two parts of this trilogy will ever be produced.  After ten days, The Golden Compass has earned an awful $40.8 million.
     Enchanted, facing competition from a trio of rodents, fell 48% to $5.5 million, which is a slightly larger than expected drop.  Enchanted has been a solid performer for the past four weekends, and it should still add a good deal more profit over the holidays.  It looks headed for a $110-120 million finish, which should leave Disney very happy.  So far, Enchanted has made $91.8 million.

  Riding on the buzz of four Golden Globe nominations, No Country For Old Men made $2.8 million this weekend, a small 31% drop.  This Miramax feature is holding its own quite nicely, and with many more nominations and awards in its future, it should hold up very well all the way through awards season.  After six weekends, No Country For Old Men has earned a great $33.4 million.
     The Perfect Holiday had a disappointing sixth place debut.  The Christmas film starring Queen Latifah, Gabrielle Union, and Terrence Howard was dead on arrival, grossing a wimpy $2.3 million in its opening frame.  Although the Yari Film Group released it to a small number of theaters, its per theater average was still very weak at $1,747.  Perhaps there wasn’t room for two Christmas movies centered on black families this December.
     This Christmas, which incurred direct competition from The Perfect Holiday, dropped 54% to $2.3 million.  This drop is a bit large as we near Christmas, but no one at ScreenGems is worried- This Christmas has already earned a surprisingly good $46 million in four weekends.
     In eighth place, Fred Claus added another $2.2 million to its total.  Fred may be Santa’s younger brother, but the film is definitely starting to show its age.  In its sixth weekend, the Warner Brothers’ film could only muster up a $807 per theater average, and I’m certain that almost every theater that is still playing this film will drop it directly after Christmas Day.  It’s done alright for itself, though, having earned $68.9 million overall.

     Atonement, after garnering more Golden Globe nominations than any other film, earned $1.9 million this weekend.  Only playing in 117 theaters, Atonement had a fantastic venue average of $15,443, which assures further expansions.  A virtual lock for an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Atonement has earned $2.9 million in two weekends, but its run is far from over.
     August Rush made another $1.8 million this weekend, good enough for tenth place.  The Warner Brothers feature has grossed $28 million after four weekends.
     The Fox Searchlight film Juno showed its massive potential this weekend, grossing $1.4 million from just 40 theaters.  Juno had a superb per theater average of $35,686, and I’m expecting big things from it over the rest of the holiday season.  Juno, which also got some nominations this week, has made $2.1 million so far, and it will expand nationwide on Christmas.
     Rounding out the Top 12 is Beowulf, which lost almost half of its theaters and dropped 70% to $1.4 million.  With $79.3 million after five weekends, Beowulf will finish just over $80 million.  That might at first seem like a good figure, but given it’s $150 million budget, this is fairly disappointing.
     Overall, the box office was back in full swing,  although there was still not much depth, seeing as the top two films made up about 75% of the Top 12 total.  Next week, things should really pick up, though, as five new films open wide.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Charlie Wilson’s War, P.S. I Love You, Sweeney Todd, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story will finally add the necessary depth that has been so lacking lately, and there won’t be so many $1-2 million earners in the Top 12.  There’s going to be some big business next weekend, but will it be Legendary?  Check back on Friday for the Weekend Preview.
Top Twelve for December 14-16
1. I Am Legend – $77.2 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $44.3 million
3. The Golden Compass – $8.8 million
4. Enchanted – $5.5 million
5. No Country For Old Men – $2.8 million
6. The Perfect Holiday – $2.3 million
7. This Christmas – $2.3 million
8. Fred Claus – $2.2 million
9. Atonement – $1.8 million
10. August Rush – $1.8 million
11. Juno – $1.4 million
12. Beowulf – $1.4 million

Friday Estimates: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way To Make Money

December 15, 2007

     Wait, is this really happening?  Am I about to report some pretty good news about the box office?  It’s been weeks since I could honestly do that!  But, it looks like Christmas has come early for the box office this year, and it received the gift of some big business over Friday, December 14.

     I Am Legend earned a stunning $29.5 million in its first day of release!  Will Smith can add another notch to his belt of an already phenomenal career.  I Am Legend will become his fifth $50+ million opening, and his eleventh $100+ million earner.  It’s going to blow past my prediction (and the industry’s) and earn about $70-80 million this weekend.  It looks like audiences were hungry for some action and spectacle in a tired, weak marketplace.  I could shed a tear I’m so happy for the movie industry.
     Oh wait, I take that back.  What I meant to say is I could shed a tear I’m so sad for the movie industry.  Much to my chagrin, Alvin and the Chipmunks had a great Friday gross as well.  The adaptation of the 60’s cartoon earned itself $13.3 million yesterday, which means it will also shatter expectations substantially.  Look for a (shudder) $40 million weekend.  I can’t believe an animated chipmunk movie is going to crush The Golden Compass at the box office…
     After these movies, though, the rest of the box office remained in pretty terrible shape, especially last week’s champ.  The Golden Compass fell hard this weekend, dropping a huge 68% from last weekend, only mustering up $2.6 million on Friday.  Someone’s losing their job at New Line.
    Also, Atonement and Juno made the top 12 yesterday in only 117 and 40 theaters, respectively!  This is the power of award nominations and positive buzz at work.
Friday Estimates for December 14
1. I Am Legend – $29.5 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $13.3 million
3. The Golden Compass – $2.6 million
4. Enchanted – $1.6 million
5. No Country For Old Men – $850,000
6. This Christmas – $750,000
7. Fred Claus – $720,000
8. The Perfect Holiday – $700,000
9. August Rush – $550,000
10. Atonement – $540,000
11. Awake – $410,000
12. Beowulf – $400,000
12. Atonement – $400,000

Weekend Preview: Will I Am Legend Be Legendary?

December 15, 2007

     If you’re reading this right now, take a moment and thank Will Smith for being such a great movie star.  Few stars engage the public, choose great film vehicles, and wield box office muscle like he does, and he should rescue the box office from the mire it has been in over the next three days.  Things should pick up a good deal this weekend at the box office, with three new releases and the increasing business of the holiday season.  I Am Legend, one of the few spectacle films of the Winter, should top the charts with no difficulty at all.  Alvin and the Chipmunks could do some fair business, but things look grim for The Perfect Holiday.

     Will Smith stars in the apocalyptic thriller I Am Legend, which (along with National Treasure: Book of Secrets) seems to be a sure bet for success.  I Am Legend is an apocalyptic thriller of sorts, in which Will Smith is the last man left on earth.  Ads have slowly revealed more about the plot, and it is now clear that this is a horror/action movie, with copious amounts of plagued zombies.  The trailer for this movie was just fantastic, and there has been steadily building excitement for the thriller all year long.  Will Smith is one of the most bankable stars in the business, and people flock to see his movies each year.  Reviews are mixed, but good enough to assure solid word-of-mouth.  Released by Warner Brothers, I Am Legend opens in a very wide 3,606 theaters, and it should earn itself about $52 million this weekend.

     Alvin and the Chipmunks, a Fox feature, is a movie that looks so childish, so unfunny, so cheap, so unabashedly awful, that I’d rather not talk about it.  It’s a movie that makes me say, “Why?  Why did Garfield have to make $75 million back in 2004 and justify this film’s existence?”  However, I do write a blog about the movies, and it’s my job to inform you, so here goes:  Jason Lee stars in this send up of the small screen critters, which are here rendered with a very fake looking CGI technique, in a way similar to the Scooby Doo movies.  Unfortunately, Alvin and the Chipmunks aren’t really classic enough characters for this to be as big a success as Scooby Doo was.  Reviews are awful, but families journey to the multiplex in mass quantities during the holidays, and if they’ll settle for Fred Claus, they’ll settle for this load.  The sheer venue count of 3,475 theaters will give this movie an alright weekend, and it should bring in about $17 million.

     The last new film is The Perfect Holiday, which actually opened on Wednesday this week.  The Perfect Holiday features a mostly black cast, including Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union, and it is hoping to attain some of the success This Christmas has found already this season.  A romatic comedy about a single mother framed around the Christmas season, The Perfect Holiday‘s story looks pretty generic, and reviews are bad.  In 1,306 theaters, the film has already played for two days, but has pulled in a measly $646,000, which means that the Yari Film Group project is destined for a $2 million weekend, which is far from Perfect.
     Among holdovers, The Golden Compass should fall about 50% to $13 million, which New Line probably hoped the fantasy flick would see in its third or fourth weekend.  That would give The Golden Compass $45 million overall.  Enchanted should fall about 35% again to $7 million, for a $93 million total, well on it’s way to the century club.  No Country For Old Men garnered itself some major awards attention from the Golden Globes, so it should hold very well, earning another $3.9 million this weekend, for a $34.5 million total.
Predicted Top Twelve for December 14-16
1. I Am Legend – $52 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $17 million
3. The Golden Compass – $13 million
4. Enchanted – $7 million
5. No Country For Old Men – $3.9 million
6. Fred Claus – $3.6 million
7. This Christmas – $3.5 million
8. August Rush – $2.5 million
9. Beowulf – $2.4 million
10. The Perfect Holiday – $2 million
11. Hitman – $1.9 million
12. Awake – $1.8 million