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It was one of those good news / bad news weekends; however, the bad news was minor compared to the overwhelming positive stories to talk about. Yes, the overall box office plummeted 47% from last weekend to $99 million, but that was expected for a post-holiday weekend and it was still 20% higher than the same weekend last year. Also, total ticket sales for the year now sit at $9.66 billion, which is not only 8.5% higher than last year's pace, it is within a rounding error of 2007's record-setting total. That means it is possible that 2009 has already set the record for biggest yearly box office with three weeks left in the year.

It took three weeks but The Blind Side was able to climb into first place with $20.04 million over the weekend, which matched expectations perfectly, and lifted its total to $128.87 million. At this pace, $150 million is assured, while it should top The Proposal as the biggest hit of Sandra Bullock's career. Additionally, given its per theater average, I don't think too many theater owners will be itching to dump it, even with the holiday fare coming in fast and heavy in the coming weeks. If the film is still playing in significantly more than 2,000 theaters come Christmas day, it could have a small shot at $200 million by the end of its run.

New Moon was punished over the weekend and fell 64% to $15.43 million, which was the worst week-to-week decline in the top ten. But that wasn't much worse than expected, nor was it that much worse than the average for all films. It now has $255.36 million domestically on a budget that was likely not significantly more than $100 million (that includes domestic P&A, but not international P&A), meaning it will show a profit during its domestic theatrical run, which is something only about one in ten films manages to do. As for its future, it is about to overtake Star Trek on the yearly chart, while The Hangover is also in its sights. That said, with a per theater average that has weakened dramatically since its opening, there's a good chance it will start shedding theaters on Friday, and it might not last until the end of the year in wide release. That depends heavily on how well the upcoming competition does.

Brothers opened with $9.53 million over the weekend, which was (nearly) perfectly in line with Thursday's predictions, but thanks to weaker than expected competition, it was able to open in third place instead of fourth. With mixed reviews and a solid but not spectacular opening per theater average, it could have slightly better than average legs thanks in part to the upcoming holidays. This makes matching original expectations an obtainable goal.

Amazingly, Disney's A Christmas Carol climbed a spot to fourth with $7.76 million over the weekend for a total of $115.25 million after a month. At this point in its run, The Polar Express had made only $109.83 million, which gives this film a nice lead. However, Polar Express made $9.59 million in its fifth weekend, which means that lead might not last very long.

Old Dogs spent one last weekend in the top five with $6.89 million and a total of $33.92 million. Given its reviews, there's little hope of recovering this weekend, while given its per theater average, theater owners will be unwilling to give it a chance.

Armored missed the top five during its opening weekend, landing in seventh place with $6.51 million. Its reivews were not bad and it could find a receptive audience on the home market, but even reaching $20 million theatrically is likely too much to ask at this point.

Everybody's Fine proved once again that you don't open a movie wide unless you are willing to spend the money to advertise it. The film opened in tenth place with $3.85 million in 2,133 theaters, which means it missed the Mendoza Line. Its reviews were close enough to 50% positive that they don't explain this performance, but the total lack of a promotional blitz does. Maybe it will find a more receptive audience on the home market.

The final movie to open wide was Transylmania, although with a theater count of just 1,007, that description is generous. Then again, with zero positive reviews, calling it a movie might not be 100% accurate either. The vampire spoof earned a mere $264,000 and missed the top twenty. By next weekend it will be little more than a faint memory.

Moving onto the sophomore class, we find Ninja Assassin in eighth place with $5.06 million over the weekend for a total of $29.92 million after two. If it can manage a 40 / 60 split on the domestic / international box office, which is likely, then it should be able to make a profit sometime on the home market. Meanwhile, The Fantastic Mr. Fox fell out of the top ten despite fantastic reviews. It earned just $2.92 million over the past three days for a total of $14.08 million after 24 days of release. (Some of that was in limited release.)

- C.S.Strowbridge December Starts in Record Fashion - The Numbers

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December Starts in Record Fashion

December 7th, 2009

It was one of those good news / bad news weekends; however, the bad news was minor compared to the overwhelming positive stories to talk about. Yes, the overall box office plummeted 47% from last weekend to $99 million, but that was expected for a post-holiday weekend and it was still 20% higher than the same weekend last year. Also, total ticket sales for the year now sit at $9.66 billion, which is not only 8.5% higher than last year's pace, it is within a rounding error of 2007's record-setting total. That means it is possible that 2009 has already set the record for biggest yearly box office with three weeks left in the year.

It took three weeks but The Blind Side was able to climb into first place with $20.04 million over the weekend, which matched expectations perfectly, and lifted its total to $128.87 million. At this pace, $150 million is assured, while it should top The Proposal as the biggest hit of Sandra Bullock's career. Additionally, given its per theater average, I don't think too many theater owners will be itching to dump it, even with the holiday fare coming in fast and heavy in the coming weeks. If the film is still playing in significantly more than 2,000 theaters come Christmas day, it could have a small shot at $200 million by the end of its run.

New Moon was punished over the weekend and fell 64% to $15.43 million, which was the worst week-to-week decline in the top ten. But that wasn't much worse than expected, nor was it that much worse than the average for all films. It now has $255.36 million domestically on a budget that was likely not significantly more than $100 million (that includes domestic P&A, but not international P&A), meaning it will show a profit during its domestic theatrical run, which is something only about one in ten films manages to do. As for its future, it is about to overtake Star Trek on the yearly chart, while The Hangover is also in its sights. That said, with a per theater average that has weakened dramatically since its opening, there's a good chance it will start shedding theaters on Friday, and it might not last until the end of the year in wide release. That depends heavily on how well the upcoming competition does.

Brothers opened with $9.53 million over the weekend, which was (nearly) perfectly in line with Thursday's predictions, but thanks to weaker than expected competition, it was able to open in third place instead of fourth. With mixed reviews and a solid but not spectacular opening per theater average, it could have slightly better than average legs thanks in part to the upcoming holidays. This makes matching original expectations an obtainable goal.

Amazingly, Disney's A Christmas Carol climbed a spot to fourth with $7.76 million over the weekend for a total of $115.25 million after a month. At this point in its run, The Polar Express had made only $109.83 million, which gives this film a nice lead. However, Polar Express made $9.59 million in its fifth weekend, which means that lead might not last very long.

Old Dogs spent one last weekend in the top five with $6.89 million and a total of $33.92 million. Given its reviews, there's little hope of recovering this weekend, while given its per theater average, theater owners will be unwilling to give it a chance.

Armored missed the top five during its opening weekend, landing in seventh place with $6.51 million. Its reivews were not bad and it could find a receptive audience on the home market, but even reaching $20 million theatrically is likely too much to ask at this point.

Everybody's Fine proved once again that you don't open a movie wide unless you are willing to spend the money to advertise it. The film opened in tenth place with $3.85 million in 2,133 theaters, which means it missed the Mendoza Line. Its reviews were close enough to 50% positive that they don't explain this performance, but the total lack of a promotional blitz does. Maybe it will find a more receptive audience on the home market.

The final movie to open wide was Transylmania, although with a theater count of just 1,007, that description is generous. Then again, with zero positive reviews, calling it a movie might not be 100% accurate either. The vampire spoof earned a mere $264,000 and missed the top twenty. By next weekend it will be little more than a faint memory.

Moving onto the sophomore class, we find Ninja Assassin in eighth place with $5.06 million over the weekend for a total of $29.92 million after two. If it can manage a 40 / 60 split on the domestic / international box office, which is likely, then it should be able to make a profit sometime on the home market. Meanwhile, The Fantastic Mr. Fox fell out of the top ten despite fantastic reviews. It earned just $2.92 million over the past three days for a total of $14.08 million after 24 days of release. (Some of that was in limited release.)

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Filed under: Everybody's Fine, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Brothers, The Blind Side, Transylmania, Disney's A Christmas Carol, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ninja Assassin, Old Dogs, Armored