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Christmas Surprise over Thanksgiving

December 2nd, 2008

Tryptophan overload wasn't enough to slow do the box office as every film matched or exceeded Thursday's predictions (or came within a rounding error of doing so). This helped the overall box office pull in $164 million over the three-day weekend and an amazing $234 million over five. Over the three-day weekend the box office was down by less than 1% from last weekend, but it was up by just under 2% over last year and nearly 3% over the five day period. (Strangely, it is $10 million behind the record, which was set in 2000. Ticket price inflation alone should have resulted in that record going down by now.) Year-to-date 2008 has now brought in $8.60 billion compared to $8.57 billion over the same period on 2007.

Four Christmases won the box office race this past long weekend with a surprisingly strong start. In fact, it earned almost as much over three days, $31.07 million, as it was expected to earn over five. Add in Wednesday and Thursday and the film brought in $46.05 million, which puts it on pace to top original expectations by a large margin. Even with very weak reviews, this film will have little trouble reaching $100 million during its run, while it will likely be a big seller when it hits the home market this time next year.

Twilight came in second, or third; it depends on whether you are looking at the 3-day or the 5-day weekend. Over three days the film earned $26.34 million, which was down more than 62%. Even given the Fanboy Effect, this was a steep decline given the holiday. That said, the film already had $119.71 million and should reach $150 million domestically, which is more than enough to pay for its combined budget. (In fact, it might have done so already depending on the studio's share of the box office, which tends to be front loaded.) This is the first major hit for Summit Entertainment, but hopefully they can turn the franchise into a long-term moneymaker, which will help them become a major player in the industry. The more studios out there making money, the better it is for the industry as a whole.

Bolt saw growth over the weekend, and not just comparing its 5-day number to last weekend's 3-day number. It saw growth of 1.4% over the Friday to Sunday period, as it placed second with $26.58 million. Adding in Wednesday and Thursday and it made just a hair under $36.00 million over five days for a total of $66.85 million after ten. At this pace, it should hit $100 million sometime during the Christmas break, which should please Disney, as their last two releases will both finish with more than $90 million but less than $100 million domestically. That's frustratingly close to the century mark.

Quantum of Solace landed in fourth place with $18.83 million / $27.49 million, which was ahead of Thursday's predictions. This lifted its running tally to $141.42 million, and puts it on pace to become the biggest hit in the Bond franchise, but it will likely take one more week to get there.

Australia reached the top five during its opening, but with just $14.80 million / $20.00 million it was a phyrric victory at best given its $100 million production budget. Its mixed reviews will hurt the film, as expectations were higher, while the competition from Oscar caliber films is only growing. That said, I don't expect the film to disappear from theaters quickly, and if it does well internationally, it could show a profit eventually.

The final new wide release of the week was Transporter 3, which started its run in fifth place on Wednesday. However, by the time Sunday was over, it has slipped into seventh place with $12.06 million over three days and $18.23 million after five. This latter number was within a rounding error of expectations, and given its expected production budget, it is enough to assume it will show a profit early in its home market run.

While it is not a wide release, Milk did reach the top ten with $1.45 million / $1.94 million during its opening weekend. A per theater average or $40,000 is huge, and earning it in 36 theaters is even more impressive. There's little doubt it will expand and the Oscar buzz should also grow with it.

Finally, while it took more than two months to get there, Eagle Eye finally reached $100 million, becoming the 22nd film of the year to hit the century mark.


Filed under: Twilight, Quantum of Solace, Four Christmases, Bolt, Eagle Eye, Australia, Milk, Transporter 3