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The More the Merrier

November 27th, 2007

Thanksgiving provided plenty of reasons for studios to give thanks, especially since every single film managed to earn enough to be called a hit in one form or other. Even the weakest releases of the week did well compared to their modest costs. Overall, the box office brought in $162 million over three days, which is 55% more than last weekend. More importantly, it is virtually identical to the same weekend last year. Over five days, movies earned an estimated $229 million, which is up just shy of 2% from last year. This is great news after a Fall that most would like to forget, but the growth is still lower than ticket price inflation, meaning actual attendance was down.

Enchanted ruled the weekend while breaking records for biggest Thanksgiving opening, sort of. If you look at most sources, they will say Toy Story 2 is the biggest opener for a Thanksgiving weekend. However, technically that film opened on the 19th of November and merely expanded wide on Thanksgiving, so one could argue that it is not truly a Thanksgiving opening. If you were to accept this logic, then Enchanted's opening of $34.44 million from Friday to Sunday and $49.06 million since Wednesday would be the record, topping Unbreakables 2000 debut of $30.33 million / $46.01 million. On the other hand, Enchanted's performance was just a little bit weaker than Happy Feet's sophomore stint of $37.04 million / $50.69 million, which took place over Thanksgiving last year. Given the film's unbelievably positive reviews, Enchanted could earn as much as $150 million at the box office, depending on how well the December releases perform.

This Christmas turned out to be the biggest surprise of the weekend scoring second place with $17.96 million over three days and $26.34 million in total. As expected, the majority of the film's audience were African-Americans. However, they only represented 65% of moviegoers meaning this film has better than expected crossover appeal. Add in reviews that were just below the overall positive level, but strong enough to result in generally good word of mouth, and the film should last in theaters until at least the New Year. All this with a reported $13 million production budget. Excellent news for the studio.

Beowulf, on the other hand, fell a little steeper than expected, down nearly 40% over the three day portion of the week and earning $16.54 million. Even over five days it was down 14% to $23.59 million for a 10-day total of $56.63 million. This is not good for a film that cost $150 million to make.

Despite earning awful reviews and a Tomatometer score that was barely double-digits, Hitman opened well with $13.18 million / $21.09 million. On the other hand, it is important to note that the film was more front-loaded than the other new releases, which would indicate poor word-of-mouth and that will lead to short legs at the box office. However, it already has brought in more than it cost to make, so it should earn a profit regardless of what happens next.

With a couple of new releases doing better than expected, Bee Movie and Fred Claus were fighting for fifth place instead of fourth. However, the were both very close to Thursday's prediction with the former earning $11.81 million / $15.78 million and the latter pulling in $10.58 million / $14.94 million. For Bee Movie, this was enough to cross $100 million late on Friday, making it the 23rd film of the year to do so.

Up next is August Rush, which beat expectations with $9.42 million / $13.24 million. This is a great start for a film that only cost Warner Bros. $14 million for the distribution rights. On the other hand, the reviews were soft and there's a lot of competition for this market during award season and it might not have that much life left.

Finally we get to The Mist, which was the only new release to really miss Thursday's expectations. The film placed ninth over the weekend with $8.93 million and over five days earned $12.86 million. This is very disappointing since the film managed reviews that were nearly 70% positive. Maybe these strong reviews will result in strong legs, but with a production budget of just $13 million, it should please the studio regardless.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium was down 18% for the three-day weekend to $7.94 million while its total is a mere $22.18 million. This is terrible for a family film released at this time of year. However, Love in the Time of Cholera performed even worse, down nearly 50% to $967,000 over the weekend and $3.50 million in total.

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Filed under: Enchanted, Bee Movie, Beowulf, Fred Claus, This Christmas, Hitman, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, August Rush, The Mist, Love in the Time of Cholera