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The Weekend the Box Office Stood Still

December 15th, 2008

It was a rough week for new releases as none of the three debut films managed to live up to expectations, in dramatic fashion in some cases. However, holdovers did pick up some of the slack to help the overall box office to $92 million over the weekend. That was 11% higher than last weekend, but 43% lower than the same weekend last year when I Am Legend opened. Or you could compare it to the weekend when The Golden Compass opened, in which case it was nearly 12% higher. Either is acceptable. As for the year-to-date numbers, 2008 extended its lead over 2007 to 1.4% at $8.96 billion to $8.84 billion. It appears that 2008's lead is safe this late in the year, at least in terms of raw dollars. Ticket sales, on the other hand, will decline.

The Day the Earth Stood Still failed to live up to expectations with just $30.48 million during its opening weekend, which is about 50% lower than even the low end of Thursday's prediction. This is in part explained by the terrible reviews, but also due to the fact that Keanu Reeves is not that big of a box office draw. Sure, he's been in several major movies, but rarely as the number one draw. As for the film's future, with Christmas just around the corner, it should still have the legs needed to reach $100 million domestically, and if it does well internationally, it could show a profit during its initial push on the home market.

Speaking of legs, Four Christmases was down just 22% to $13.07 million over the weekend for a total of $87.78 million after three. At this pace it will reach $100 million by this time next week and profitability this time next year when it makes its debut on the home market.

Twilight finished within a rounding error of expectations with $7.95 million over the weekend for a total of $150.05 million so far. This is the 11th film to reach that mark this year, and arguably the most profitable of the ones that have made it there so far.

Bolt was right behind with $7.46 million over the weekend and $88.85 million after four. So far this film has had one weekend where it missed expectations, followed by another where it blew expectations out of the water. As a box office analyst, I find this annoying. However, at least its chances of reaching $100 million took a turn for the better this week.

Australia was a surprise entry in the top five with $4.17 million, which lifted its running tally to $37.77 million. However, this is too little, too late for this $100 million film. It would have to outperform its domestic box office internationally by a ratio of 2 to 1, or more, to have a shot at earning a profit.

The next wide release of the week was Nothing Like the Holidays. The film missed expectations and landed in seventh place with $3.53 million in 1,671 theaters for a per theater average of just $2,114. I can't imagine it lasting in theaters longs, even with the best reviews of the week.

The final wide release of the week was Delgo. To say this film missed expectations is an understatement as it pulled in a mere $512,000 in 2,160 theaters, which is the worst opening for a truly wide release, ever. Add in a Tomatometer score that is barely in double digits, and this film will be pulled from theaters as fast as the owners are contractually allowed.

Moving onto the sophomore class... Cadillac Records fell 54% to $1.59 million over the weekend for a total of $5.91 million. Meanwhile The Punisher - War Zone fell even faster, down 68% to $1.38 million over the past three days for a 10-day total of $7.01 million. Finally, box office numbers for Nobel Son were not released this weekend, which can only be bad news.


Filed under: Twilight, Four Christmases, Bolt, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Australia, Cadillac Records, Punisher: War Zone, Nothing Like the Holidays, Delgo, Nobel Son