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Tron Scores Easy Win Over Weak Competition

December 20th, 2010

The weekend numbers were mixed with only one film performing really well and a few more pulling in middling numbers for this time of year. Overall the box office was up 47% from last weekend adding $135 million to its running tally, meaning it crossed the $10 billion mark over the weekend. The good news is this was a weekend faster than that milestone was reached last year and the second highest in history. The bad news is that it was down 2% from last year, while the year-to-date race now has 2010 up by just 1.2% at $10.07 billion to $9.94 billion. There is a chance that by this time next week, 2010 will have surrendered its lead.

Tron: Legacy wasn't a bomb. That's the good news. In fact, it opened within the expected range with $44.03 million, which is quite strong for a December release and on par with National Treasure: Book of Secrets. On the one hand, that film went on to make more than $200 million at the box office, despite earning weak reviews. On the other hand, it had no competition, as it was the last significant release of 2007. With middle of the road reviews and two saturation level releases opening on Wednesday, Tron: Legacy will have a shot at $200 million domestically, but only an outside shot. However, $150 million might be more likely, which is merely okay for a film like this. If it can perform better internationally and become a hit on the home market, it could pay back its $200 million production budget, eventually. However, I don't think there will be another sequel, not even 28 years from now.

On the other hand, Yogi Bear 3D struggled with a mere $16.41 million during its opening. That's roughly a third of what Alvin and the Chipmunks opened with in 2007. Add in reviews that are just short of a tragic, and more or less direct competition opening on Saturday, and this film could be in for a short theatrical run. On the other hand, Gulliver's Travels could turn out to be worse than this film and the last minute date change is a really bad sign. Being the family film throughout the Christmas break could really help at the box office. After all, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 opened with $14.59 million over five days, and it went on to earn $82.57 million. December is the month for long legs.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader didn't really make its long-range prospects that much clearer, as it fell right in the middle of expectations with $12.39 million over the weekend for a total of $42.75 million after two. With the kids out of school, it should have strong weekday numbers, while with Christmas landing on Saturday, it could rebound next weekend. That's the best case scenario. Worst case scenario has a significant number of theater owners looking at its per theater average and dropping it on Wednesday / Saturday to make room for some of the new releases. We will know soon enough.

The Fighter's first foray in wide release wasn't an unqualified success, but it wasn't a disaster either. With some of the best reviews in the top ten, and a number of early nominations, it should have long legs at the box office. Also, it reportedly didn't cost a whole lot to make, especially compared to the average blockbuster, so it should earn a profit sooner rather than later.

Tangled was a surprise entry in the top five with $8.78 million over the weekend, lifting its running tally to $127.92 million after four weeks of release. School holidays, weaker than expected competition, some of the best reviews in the top ten, etc. all suggest it will continue in the top ten for at least a few more weeks. Meanwhile, it has already made more than a lot of analysts were predicting.

It's a shame the same can't be said for How Do You Know? The final wide release of the weekend was outright bomb, landing in eighth place with just $7.48 million on a $120 million budget. $120 million budget. $120 million budget! How do you make a romantic comedy and spend $120 million? Romantic comedies are one of the least expensive genres to produce, so I'm not sure how this happened. As for its future, its reviews are weak, but not fatal compared to the average romantic comedy, while theater owners will likely be looking for a reason to dump the film ASAP. The only good news is that theater owners are contractually obligated to keep the film next weekend, while there's nothing to replace it with the following weekend.

The Tourist was the only film in the sophomore class to not place in the top five, but it came close with $8.52 million over the weekend for a total of $30.61 million after two. Some analysts thought it would open with that much, so this is very disappointing.


Filed under: Weekend Box Office, The Fighter, Tron: Legacy, Tangled, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Yogi Bear, How Do You Know?, The Tourist