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Building on a Legend

December 13th, 2007

This weekend promises to give us the biggest opening box office for a film since August when The Bourne Ultimatum opened with nearly $70 million. I Am Legend won't earn that much, but it will easily win the box office race.

With I Am Legend, Will Smith is looking to add horror to the list of genres he has conquered. (Admittedly, it is action orientated horror, but that's still a form of horror.) Reviews are mixed and are currently sitting at 56% positive. While this is below the overall positive level, it is better than most wide releases earn and it shouldn't adversely affect the film's box office chances. Speaking of which, tracking has I Am Legend becoming Will Smith's fifth $50 million opening and his first since I, Robot. In fact, should it earn just 5% more than that figure, it would top I, Robot as his biggest opening. I don't think it will, but it will be very close. Look for $51 million over the weekend and $175 million in total. This might be enough to crack into the top ten for the year, depending on how well some of the last potential blockbusters perform.

The only other truly wide release of the weekend is Alvin and the Chipmunks, the digitally animated / live action rendition of the cartoon. The reviews are better than expected at 33% positive; I honestly expected this film to be relegated to single-digits. This has given a slight boost to the film's box office potential compared to the beginning of the month and it could reach $100 million in total. Anything close to $20 million over the weekend would give the film a real shot at that milestone thanks to its younger target demographic and the upcoming holidays. Right now it is tracking at between $15 million and $18 million. The lower end would give the film about $75 million in total while the upper end would help it stay in theaters a little bit longer and earn $100 million, perhaps after a small push by the studio. I think $16 million over the weekend and just over $80 million in total is the mostly likely result.

The Golden Compass struggled during its opening weekend and now the competition will take its toll. It could avoid the dreaded 50% drop-off, which would give it just under $14 million over the weekend and about $45 million in total. However, given its production budget, that's simply not enough. Even a strong international numbers won't be enough here to completely turn things around.

Meanwhile, Enchanted continues its march to $100 million. Even shedding theaters won't hurt the film too much and it should add just under $7 million to its total this weekend, which would put it about a week from reaching that milestone.

The Perfect Holiday was far from perfect during its opening day as it landed in fifth place with just $380,000, which is roughly 70% less than expected. The only mitigating factor is the Wednesday opening and perhaps not enough people knew it was opening that day. This would help it grow slightly tonight and recover over the weekend. Or it could collapse and fall further down the charts. Sadly with weak reviews and lots of competition, the latter is more likely. This will reduce the film's weekend box office to $3 million for a 5-day total of less than $4 million. It will also give Fred Claus and No Country for Old Men an opening for fifth place, as both are tracking at just under $4 million.

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Filed under: I am Legend, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Enchanted, No Country for Old Men, Fred Claus, The Golden Compass, The Perfect Holiday