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Marley a Gift to the Box Office

December 30th, 2008

Not every film lived up to expectations over the weekend, but more than enough did that we can safely say 2008 ended on a high note. Over the past three days, the box office pulled in $201 million, which was more than double last week's haul of $90 million. It was also close to 8% better than the same weekend last year, however, that's not enough for 2008 to recover, and it is still almost 1% behind last year's pace $9.55 billion to $9.63 billion. Ticket sales were off by more than 5%, which is the second worst decline in more than a decade. That said, nearly $10 billion in ticket sales is still huge, and as long as production budgets don't get out of hand, the industry is healthy.

Marley & Me surprised analysts earning top spot on Christmas Day breaking the record with $14.38 million. This was followed up by an impressive $36.36 million over the weekend for a 4-day total of $50.74 million. With reviews that were among the best of the weekend (thought that's not saying much) and its family friendly nature, $100 million should be easy to reach, perhaps as earlier as this time next week. As for where it will end up, $200 million is not out of the question, it all depends on how long it can hold on in January.

Second place went to Bedtime Stories or The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, depending on if you are looking at the 3-day or the 4-day weekend. The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons started out better than expected with $11.87 million on Christmas day, which would have been the new record had it not been for Marley & Me. But it did not hold on as well over the weekend and managed $26.85 million over three days for a total of $38.73 million after four. It did earn the best reviews out of any of the wide releases, and the second best reviews in the top ten. However, at 73% positive, I don't think it will be a major player during Awards Season. It will continue to pick up some nominations, but I think its only win could be an Oscar for Best Makeup.

Meanwhile, Bedtime Stories disappointed, kind of. It earned $10.58 million on Christmas day, which was lower than expected, but still higher than the previous record holder for best Christmas day opening. It is important to note that the third place film on Christmas day earned more than any previous film that had opened on that day. Impressive. Bedtime Stories then rose to second place over the weekend with $27.45 million for a Thursday to Sunday total of $38.03 million. Despite terrible reviews, the film still has a shot at becoming a $100 million hit, it all depends on its legs, which should be strong thanks to its target audience.

Valkyrie beat expectations by a significant margin with $21.03 million over three days and $29.52 million over four. Its reviews did fall below the overall positive level, but as long as its actual budget is somewhere between its official budget ($75 million) and the reported budget ($95 million) it should earn a profit, eventually.

Fifth place went to both Yes Man with $16.66 million over the weekend and $49.80 million after two. This is below expectations, but nearly exactly what it cost to make, so the studio can't be too disappointed.

The final wide release of the week was The Spirit, which landed in eighth place with an opening of $6.46 million / $10.31 million. This was on the very low end of expectations, and with the weakest reviews in the top ten, there's little hope for strong legs over the coming weeks.

Doubt did manage a spot in the top ten with $5.34 million in 1267 theaters. This gives it some measure of mainstream success, however, with a per theater average of just under $5000, I don't think it will be expanding too much more from now on. Not unless it starts turning its Awards Season nominations into wins, that is.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Seven Pounds added $13.20 million over the weekend for a total of $38.76 million after two, Meanwhile, The Tale of Despereaux earned $8.93 million over the past three days for a total of $27.45 million after ten.


Filed under: Marley & Me, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bedtime Stories, Yes Man, Valkyrie, Seven Pounds, The Tale of Despereaux, Doubt, The Spirit