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Earth Looks to Open Big

December 12th, 2008

There are three wide releases this week, including the only action film in the month of December, The Day the Earth Stood Still. There's no doubt it will be the biggest hit of the week. The only real question is if it can open better than I Am Legend did this week last year and help 2008 keep pace with 2007.

I mentioned in the monthly preview that I was worried about The Day the Earth Stood Still and how it would live up to the original. I suspected it would have great special effects, and that would be about it. It appears my worries were well founded as the reviews are overwhelmingly negative. That said, it is opening in just over 3,500 theaters with an aggressive ad campaign to match, and it should pull in $50 million over the weekend, more or less. In fact, studio estimates could be just over $50 million on Sunday, but the final number will be just under $50 million come Monday. That's a little better than initial expectations, but the advertising has been a lot more aggressive.

Four Christmases' reign at the top will come to a screeching halt this weekend, but its run to $100 million will not. If it can crack $10 million over the weekend, and it should, that would put it on pace to reach $100 million during the Christmas week, perhaps a little sooner. Normally, given the type of movie this is, that would be more than enough to show a healthy profit. But with a price-tag of $80 million, it will have to wait until the home market for that to happen.

On the other hand, Twilight has already shown a decent profit and everything it earns now is pure gravy. And this weekend it should earn $7 million, giving it third place and just under $150 million during its run.

The next wide release of the week is Nothing Like the Holidays, which is opening in the fewest theaters of the three wide releases, but earning the best reviews. Granted, at 50% positive, it is not earning great reviews, but they are strong enough that the Christmas movie should draw in its target audience, and have some crossover appeal. It has a shot at third place with just over $7 million, but I think it will have to settle for just under $7 million. That's enough to keep it on pace to match original expectations.

Bolt should come in just behind with $6 million over the weekend for a total of $87 million after four. That puts it on pace to just miss $100 million, but Disney could decide to push it over the top.

The final wide release of the week is Delgo, a film that has been in the works for six years, which is bad news for a digitally animated movie. Technology has improved a lot since they started working on this film, and the animation looks quite dated, especially compared to WALL-E, or even Bolt both of which are better choices than this movie. The film is opening in more than 2,000 theaters, but combining the terrible reviews, the nearly total lack of buzz, and the absence of an effective ad campaign, and the movie could earn less than $2 million at the box office. It could also surprise and grab a spot in the top five with just over $6 million. Splitting the difference gives us $4 million, which is as likely a prediction as any.

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Filed under: Twilight, Four Christmases, Bolt, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Nothing Like the Holidays, Delgo