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Night Lasts Three Weeks

January 9th, 2007

There were a couple of pleasant surprises this week, including a generally stronger than expected performance by the holdovers. Better than expected still resulted in an 18% drop-off from last weekend to $133 million, but that's 3.5% better than 2006's start.

Night at the Museum was amazingly strong, and down just 35% to $23.7 million over the weekend. This lifted its running tally to $163.8 million, overtaking Casino Royale for 8th place for movies released in 2006. It also makes a final tally of $200 million much more likely.

Pursuit of Happyness also beat expectations, albeit by barely a rounding error. Its 33% drop off was the lowest in the top 10 (not counting films that expanded), giving it $12.9 million for the weekend and $124.0 million overall.

Children of Men was the first of the 'new' releases. The film expanded into more than 1200 theaters and scored third place with $10.2 million. This gives it a per theater average of $8,435, which should be strong enough to see some further expansion over the coming weeks. The film is still being overlooked by nearly every award nomination committee, but with outstanding reviews it still has a chances at Oscar glory when the nominations are announced on January 23rd.

Possibly the biggest surprise of the week was Freedom Writers as the inspirational teacher story earned overall positive reviews and a place in the top five. Neither of these outcomes were expected. Over the weekend the film made $9.4 million on 1,360 screens and with the strong word-of-mouth it could see expansion next weekend. Or it could be a niche market film and that will likely mean it will crash during its sophomore stint. It is too soon to tell.

Dreamgirls didn't hold up as well as most thought, falling 39% to $8.7 million over the weekend. However, it is important to note that the film still managed a per theater average better than $10,000 while its total box office of $54.3 million is more than any live action musical has made since Chicago.

Just missing the top five is the first of roughly a dozen digitally animated movies to come out this year. But if Happily N'Ever After is any predictor, 2007 will not be a banner year for these films as it missed the top five with just $6.6 million. Granted, this is not that much lower than expectations and with just 5% positive reviews you can hardly blame Digital Overload on its struggles. As for its future, it goes up against another poorly reviewed digitally animated film, Arthur and the Invisibles, this weekend and the direct competition can't help.

As expected, Code Name: The Clearer missed the top ten, placing 12th with $4.2 million. Given its reviews and its per theater average, I would expect a sharp drop-off next weekend and the loss of 1,000 or more theaters the weekend after. By the time January is over, no one will have any memory of this film.

Finally we have Thr3e, which lived down to lower expectations, earning just $675,000 in its 458 theaters. However, even with a lower per theater average and terrible reviews, the film still should be able to top its $2.4 million production budget. Christian films tend to have strong legs; for example, Facing the Giants opened with just $1.3 million but made it past $10 million and is still in theaters. On the other hand, these films are not growing in popularity and results like this are enforcing their niche market standing.


Filed under: Night at the Museum, The Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, Freedom Writers, Children of Men, Happily N'Ever After, Code Name: The Cleaner, Thr3e