The Numbers - Box Office Data, Movie Stars, Idle Speculation
Audio Cables
Thursday, April 24, 2014



2009 Preview: December

November turned out to be a good month with more films meeting or exceeding expectations that missing. We also saw records broken as 2009 marches closer to the all-time record, and the possibility of becoming the first year to hit $10 billion in total ticket sales growing. It won't need that much to get there, and even if just one or two of the predicted $100 million hits this month get to that milestone, we will still finish the year by breaking records.

Weekend of December 4th, 2009
The holiday season lasts from the first weekend in November to the first weekend in January and encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. During this time, every single weekend is prime territory to release a potential blockbuster. Every single weekend, expect the weekend after Thanksgiving. So it comes as a bit of a disappointment that there are three or four films opening wide this weekend. Not only is this a bad weekend to release a movie, but it's also crowded, which is strike two for most films. Last year, when only one movie opened truly wide, and it bombed. There were also two movies that opened semi-wide, but neither managed to expand significantly.

Name: Armored - Trailer
Distributor: Sony
Official Site: ArmoredMovie.com
Release Date: December 4, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense violence, some disturbing images and brief strong language
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Heist
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million
Notes: I love heist movies and there are a lot of actors in this movie that I like. Because of this, I hope this movie rocks and becomes a big hit. However, there's almost no chance of that. First of all, it's opening during the worst weekend of the holiday season. Secondly, it is only opening in 2,000 theaters. Granted, that doesn't mean it is going to suck, but it does suggest Sony doesn't have a lot of faith in it. That said, the trailer isn't bad. It's a little generic, but I have hope that the movie will earn a Tomatometer score that is closer to 50% positive than 20% positive, while it should at least come close to matching its production budget. Given the release date, that's all the studio can ask for.

Name: Brothers - Trailer
Distributor: Lionsgate
Official Site: BrothersFilm.com
Release Date: December 4, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for language and some disturbing violent content
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: War, Returning Soldier, Remake of a Foreign Language Film, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $20 to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: A remake of the Danish film, Brothers. That film earned outstanding reviews, was a big hit in its native country and won numerous awards worldwide. It even did respectable business here in limited release. This film, on the other hand, is only earning mixed reviews and, despite an impressive cast that includes Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and others, it is unlikely to be a major hit here. There is talk that while the film overall isn't amazing, some of the performances might earn some Awards Season buzz, which would certainly help. Opening in just 2,000 theaters won't. At least it should have the longest legs of the three wide releases opening this week and assuming it didn't cost a great deal of money to make, it should eventually show a profit. On a side note, Carey Mulligan is one to watch. I would be amazed if she doesn't start earning some series Awards Season buzz. I'm not saying she's going to win an Oscar for her performance in this movie, but she could have an Oscar in her career in years to come.

Name: Everybody's Fine
Distributor: Miramax
Official Site: No Official Site
Release Date: December 4, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Road Trip, Remake of a Foreign Language Film, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimate at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million.
Notes: This film may or may not open wide this week; the reports on the matter seem evenly split. Normally I would go to the official site for the tiebreaker, but there is no official site. Not a good sign. The film has an impressive cast including Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, etc., which suggests a wide release. On the other hand, its reviews are only mixed and perhaps the studio thinks it will be too hard to sell to most moviegoers. However, while the reviews are mixed, the biggest complaint seems to be that the film is too conventional and doesn't live up to the original, which went five and oh on Rotten Tomatoes. If it does open wide, I think it could do well at the box office, because in the mix of Oscar contenders and potential blockbusters, a nice conventional movie could be an easy sell as counter-programming. Or it could struggle in limited release and never make it to $1 million. Best case scenario is... actually, the best, best case scenario has the film pulling a Bucket List and coming close to $100 million, but the odds of that are so slim I'm not taking it into account with my calculations. A more realistic high end has the film winning the weekend with close to $15 million and ending its run with over $50 million. The above box office potential is a weighted average of the two extremes. Last Minute Update: While as late as last week it was uncertain whether or not this movie would open wide, early theater count reports have it the widest release of the week. Granted, that's only 2,200 theaters, but opening with $11 million over the weekend and finishing with $35 million in total is probably the most likely outcome.

Name: Transylmania
Distributor: Full Circle Releasing
Official Site: TransylmaniaTheMovie.com
Release Date: December 4, 2009
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use, language and some violence
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Vampire, College, Spoof, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $10 million, perhaps less
Box Office Potential: $1 million
Notes: The sequel to Dorm Daze and Dorm Daze 2, the latter of which went direct-to-DVD, meaning it made almost $50,000 less than the original did at the box office. Given its track record at the box office, I'm a little amazed that it is earning a theatrical release. I'm flabbergasted that is could get a wide release, although that's not a guarantee at this point. Even if it does get a wide release, I doubt it will be a big hit, or any kind of hit, while only low expectations and a low production budget will prevent it from being a complete bomb. On a side note, while researching this movie I came across only two names I recognized, well, one name and a face. Jennifer Lyons is the only name I recognized, mainly due to her numerous guest appearances in many TV series I've enjoyed over the years. I think it is safe to say she's been typecast, but she's usually good in the roles she is given. The other is Tony Denman, who had a recurring guest role on G vs. E, which was an awesome show that ran for two years about a decade ago. I want that TV show on DVD and I want it now.

Name: Up in the Air - Trailer
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: TheUpInTheAirMovie.com
Release Date: December 4, 2009 (limited)
Release Date: December 25, 2009 (expansion to wide release)
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Draedy
Keywords: Road Trip, Mid-life Crisis, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Predicted at $40 to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million
Notes: George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a corporate specialist whose job it is to travel the country and fire people. Because he spends so much time in the air, he has amassed nearly 10 million frequent flier miles; however, as he nears his goal, he is forced to show a newcomer to his company, Natalie, the ropes and takes her on one of his trips, but her reaction to what he does makes him re-evaluate his life. So far, the reviews are outstanding; however, the film is opening in limited release and won't expand wide until Christmas day. It's tough for any film to thrive in limited release enough to make the transition to wide release, and since Christmas day will be so busy, it could get squeezed out at the box office.

Weekend of December 11th, 2009
A solid week for new releases with three films of note: one wide release, one previous limited release expanding wide, and one limited release that might expand later on. While the three films have varying box office potentials, they all have some measure of Awards Season buzz attached to them. Whether or not that buzz translates into nominations and wins is another matter. As for the comparison to last year, things look very rosy. There was only one truly wide release, and it struggled at the box office. This year the The Frog Princess should earn more than the top three films earned last year, which would be just over $50 million. In fact, it might earn more than the top ten earned last year, which would be close to $80 million.

Name: Invictus - Trailer
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: InvictusMovie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: December 11, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Source: Based on a Factual Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Rugby and Politics
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: This film is directed by Clint Eastwood. Do I need to say anything more? Actually I do, since there are some reports that the movie will open in limited release on the 11th. If this does happen, it could have some trouble expanding wide. Granted, it stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, which has Oscar written all over it, and it co-stars Matt Damon, who has serious drawing power of his own and is due for Awards Season glory. However, it's a movie about rugby, or at least how in 1995 South Africa's run in the Rugby World Cup helped to unify the country after the fall of apartheid. The box office potential of sports movies are almost directly correlated with the popularity of the sport, and rugby is definitely not a top tier sport here. If it does open in limited release, it should still expand significantly and it should still manage $25 million, or more, but there is a possibility it stumbles out of the gate and never makes a real impact at the box office. If it opens wide, $75 million is likely, but $100 million is not out of the question. The above box office potential is the average of those two extremes.

Name: The Princess and the Frog - Trailer
Distributor: Disney
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/DisneyPictures/PrincessAndTheFrog
Release Date: November 25, 2009 (exclusive)
Release Date: December 11, 2009 (expansion to wide)
MPAA Rating: G for General Admissions
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Musical
Keywords: Secret Magic, Princess, African-American, Curses, etc.
Production Budget: Unknown - Predicted at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $225 million
Notes: The first "traditionally" animated movie to come out of Disney since Home on the Range. I put "traditionally" in scare quotes because while it is 2D like hand animated films and not the normal style of 3D rendered computer animation like Toy Story, it was still animated on a computer. Also of note, this the first Disney Princess movie to feature an African-American as the lead. As for the film's box office chances, it will likely be a huge hit. The studio announced that they were shutting down there hand animation division back in 2004 and going back on that means they have a lot of pressure to make sure it scores, otherwise it will have been a huge, and costly, mistake. Because of this, John Lasseter, who is producing, will have made sure the story will be top-notch, because that's the most important part of a film's success, and he knows that well. I expect amazing reviews, lots of positive buzz, and even a possible Oscar nomination. Last minute notes: As expected, the reviews are fantastic, so much so that most people think it is a lock for an Oscar nomination, especially since there will be five nominations for Best Feature-Length Animated Film this year. As for its box office chances, the film managed nearly $800,000 over the three-day weekend and $1.2 million from Wednesday to Sunday... in just two theaters. This is better than expected and perhaps a portent of even better box office numbers ahead.

Name: The Lovely Bones - Trailer
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: LovelyBones.com
Release Date: December 11, 2009 (Limited)
Release Date: December 25, 2009 (Expansion)
Release Date: January 15, 2010 (expansion to wide release)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Heaven, Serial Killer, Dysfunctional Family, Visual Effects, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: There has been a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding this film for a long time now. Perhaps too much buzz, as its early reviews have only been mixed. There has been a lot of praise for the cast, especially from relative newcomer Saoirse Ronan, who could earn a second Oscar nomination for her performance in this film, and she's only 15 years old. However, it seems a lot of critics have been complaining about the fantasy imagery that Peter Jackson uses in the movie, which tends to overpower the emotional impact of the movie. Additionally, because it is opening in limited release, there's a chance it never truly expands wide because of the high expectations and it will be limited to $10 million or less. Or it could overcome weak reviews and the average moviegoer could become enchanted by the visuals, which could help it earn more than $100 million. We will know more in a couple of weeks, and since it doesn't open wide until January, we will update our analysis then.

Name: Yesterday Was a Lie
Distributor: Koch Vision and E1 Entertainment
Official Site: HeliconArts.com/Yesterday
Release Date: December 11, 2009 (Limited)
MPAA Rating: PG for language, some violent content and smoking
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Film Noir, Faulty Memory, Private Investigator, and more
Production Budget: $500,000
Box Office Potential: Under $1 million
Notes: There's almost no chance for this film to expand wide, as it's the wrong genre, it doesn't have the support of a major studio, and it is opening in the heart of Awards Season, so the competition will be massive. Normally we don't discuss limited releases on these monthly previews, not unless there is at least a reasonable shot at the film expanding wide. However, we've been following this movie for a long time; in fact, it has been more than four years since it was first mentioned on The Numbers. This is not quite the record for longest time between first mention and the film's theatrical release, which is currently held by Delgo but could be broken by Foodfight!, should that movie ever find a release date. Yesterday Was a Lie has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but it does have numerous reviews online that are almost all positive and has won more than ten awards at film festivals over the past two years. This bodes well for its critical reception, but for most people the 2010 DVD release will be the first time they will be able to see the movie. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it then.

Weekend of December 18th, 2009
This week brings us what is arguably the most anticipated film of the month. Possibly the most anticipated film of the year. Avatar, should make more than all three wide releases from last year. It could make more than the entire top ten made last year. It could make more than all films in release made this time last year.

Name: Avatar - Trailer
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: AvatarMovie.com
Release Date: December 18, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Visual Effects, 3D, and more
Production Budget: $237 million
Box Office Potential: $300 million
Notes: It has been more than a decade since James Cameron directed a fiction film, which is strange given the performance of the last one at the box office. That film was, of course, Titanic, which currently holds about a billion box office records around the globe, including the biggest domestic, international, and worldwide box office totals. In fact, it has made more internationally than the second placed film, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King made worldwide. There's little hope that this movie will do the same, but if the high end of its reported production budget is correct, it could make half of that film's total and still not show a profit theatrically. Yep, this could be the most expensive movie ever made and some reports have it costing $300 million. Add another $150 million in worldwide marketing costs, and it will take about $900 million worldwide to show a profit before it reaches the home market. On the other hand, if the production budget is closer to $237 million and marketing is $100 million, then it will need to make about $250 million domestically and $600 million worldwide while having a decent home market run to show a profit. It should be able to reach this lower level, as the buzz going into the movie is impressive. That said, there is some concern for a couple of reasons. First, while a lot of people are excited, there are just as many people who are looking at the film with some trepidation. It's been in the works for about a decade now and there are some who will wait to see if it lives up to expectations first, which means its reviews are especially important. Also, while it has a lot of buzz, that buzz has been happening for long time and this could result in burnout before the film finally hits theaters. Personally, I don't think it will be the biggest hit of the year, but it could come close. Even the low-end expectations have it earning $200 million domestically, while $400 million is not out of the question. Worldwide, it could make anywhere from $400 million to $1 billion. The best prediction at this point is little more than an educated guess.

Name: Did You Hear About the Morgans? - Trailer
Distributor: Sony
Official Site: DidYouHearAboutTheMorgans.com
Release Date: December 18, 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - I assume it will be PG-13
Source: Comedy
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Culture Clash, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Predicted at $40 to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker star as a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Things take an interesting turn when they witness a murder and are rushed from New York City to a small town in Wyoming under the care of the Witness Protection Program. So the film is part culture clash / part pre-divorce romance. The two leads that have had some success in this genre, as does writer / director Marc Lawrence. In fact, his two previous films, Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics were both in the same genre, and both starred Hugh Grant. I don't expect this movie to be a huge hit, but it should be a solid performer in the counter-programming slot. One last note, about half the sources I saw have this film coming out on the 11th of December and not the 18th. However, the official site has the 18th, so that's more likely, regardless of how many sites say the 11th.

Name: Nine
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: Nine-Movie.com
Release Date: December 18, 2009 (exclusive)
Release Date: December 25, 2009 (expansion to wide release)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and smoking
Source: Based on Musical
Major Genre: Musical
Keywords: Movie Business, Mid-life Crisis, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - predicted at $40 to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: The third film with "Nine" or "9" in the title to be released in the past several months. This film is based on the musical of the same name, which is in turn based on the movie 8� by Federico Fellini, which is in turn based on his life. This film is directed by Rob Marshall, who directed Chicago, which is still one of the biggest musicals of all time. In addition to the source of the script and a director with success in the genre, this movie has an amazing cast that includes five Oscar winners. It's a film that could reach $100 million at the box office, but going the limited release route could prove problematic. Additionally, there are as many as seven films opening or expanding wide on Christmas day. That's just far too many for all of them to succeed. If this film can earn some serious Awards Season buzz, then it will have a much better chance of reaching $100 million at the box office. However, it is too soon to tell if that will happen.

Weekend of December 25th, 2009
Christmas day lands on the Friday this year, which is both good news and bad news. It means we could have several records broken on that day. It also means practically every major studio will have a wide release or a wide expansion on that day (or a couple of days early in one case). Compared to last year, 2009 feels a lot more crowded, even though last year there were six films that opened / expanded wide compared to seven this year. Interestingly, by the time Christmas rolls around, 2009 should have broken a lot of records, including overall box office and most $100 million films, and a strong final weekend could help push the total for the year above the $10 billion mark for the first time in history, if it hasn't reached the mark already.

Name: Alvin and the Chipmunks - The Squeakuel - Trailer
Distributor: Fox
Official Site: MunkYourself.com
Release Date: December 23, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: New Guy in School, Animal Lead, Talking Animals, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Predicted at $60 to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $200 million
Notes: The sequel to Alvin and the Chipmunks, which opened in 2007 to terrible reviews but still became one of three $200 million hits that month. The studio is obviously hoping for a similar result this time around, perhaps a little more, as the film likely cost more to make than its predecessor. It does open a couple of days before Christmas, which is a great time of year to open a film, but it doesn't give it much time to capitalize on the school holidays, so it better earn a lot of money its first two weeks. Personally, I think it will earn similar reviews, open faster at the box office, but collapse quicker. $200 million is a fair target for the film, but it only has a 50/50 chance of getting there. That said, as long as it makes half as much as its predecessor, it should show a healthy profit by the time it reaches the lucrative home market.

Name: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Trailer
Distributor: Sony Picture Classics
Official Site: DoctorParnassus.com
Release Date: December 25, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: The Devil, Actors, and more
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $45 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million
Notes: The film has already become a midlevel hit in a couple of international markets, including Italy where it has made more than $10 million. However, it has also struggled in a number of other markets, while it is only opening in limited release here. Granted, if it generates some positive buzz here, it could be a surprise hit, but with reviews that are only a little over the 60% needed for an overall fresh rating, this seems unlikely. The curiosity of seeing Heath Ledger's final performance could help, but with crowded field, I don't think it will be enough.

Name: It's Complicated
Distributor: Universal
Official Site: ItsComplicatedMovie.com
Release Date: December 25, 2009
MPAA Rating: Currently R, but under appeal
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Divorc�e Romance, Love Triangle,
Production Budget: $75 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Divorc�e Romance with a twist. In this case the twist is the two divorc�es used to be married to each other. Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin star as as a couple who haven't been married in a decade, but have a fling despite the latter being married to Agness and the former interested in Adam. The film is written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who had success with Something's Gotta Give, which opened this time of year back in 2003 and has a similar target demographic. Then again, her most recent film, The Holiday, received mixed reviews and earned roughly half as much at the box office. The early buzz here is good, focusing mostly on the cast, but if it is stuck with that R-rating it could have a tougher time at the box office. Not that the target demographic here is too young to see R-rated movies, its just they might be turned off by the connotation of an R-rated comedy. If it does get a PG-13 rating after appeal, then $100 million becomes a lot more likely, but regardless, if could be a solid midlevel hit.

Name: Sherlock Holmes - Trailer
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: Sherlock-Holmes-Movie.WarnerBros.com
Release Date: December 25, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Private Investigator, Costume Drama, and more
Production Budget: Reported at $80 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million
Notes: This movie should be a costume drama mystery; however, the trailer makes it look a lot more like a buddy cop action comedy. At first glance, it could have a similar run to National Treasure - The Book of Secrets, but as a costume drama, it has a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel to it, which is bad news for the studio. On the plus side, Robert Downey, Jr. had three $100 million hits last year (although one of them was a cameo role). On the other hand, Jude Law's box office track record is not as rosy, while Guy Ritchie's biggest box office hit barely made more than $30 million. Given its release date and assuming its reviews are at least average and its opening theater count is solid, it should at least have a shot at $100 million. On the high end, if the buzz grows and the reviews are strong, then it could be a $200 million hit, which could lead to a franchise.

- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2009-12-01

Movies 
 Armored
 Brothers
 Everybody's Fine
 Transylmania
 Up in the Air
 Invictus
 The Princess and the Frog
 The Lovely Bones
 Yesterday Was a Lie
 Avatar
 Did You Hear About the Morgans?
 Nine
 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
 It's Complicated
 Sherlock Holmes