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Box Office Treasure over Christmas

December 27th, 2007

Over five days, 8 wide releases debuted in theaters, which is an insane amount of competition. It comes as no surprise that only a couple excelled while almost half failed to find a real audience. Overall the three-day weekend brought in $160 million, which is within a rounding error of last weekend. Comparing it to last year, on the other hand, is moot since December 24th landed on the weekend, and it is one of the worst days at the box office. Without that issue, 2007 was up by 34% from 2006, but that is a misleading number.

As expected, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets opened in first place but it was able to earn just a little more than expected with $44.78 million during its first weekend. Based on Friday's estimates, the film should have pulled $50 million over the weekend, but the reviews took a sharp turn since Thursday and the word of mouth obviously was weaker than expected as well. That said, it should become 2007's 27th $100 million film this weekend, which is just two shy of the record.

Since National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets beat expectations by a small margin, it comes as no surprise that I Am Legend missed expectations by the same margin earning $33.50 million over the weekend for a 10-day total of $136.77 million. On Thursday it became Will Smith's 11th $100 million movie and it is on track to become just his first $200 million movie Men in Black, which was released a decade ago.

The holidays boosted Alvin and the Chipmunks's box office as it slipped just 36% to $28.18 million over the weekend for a total of $84.05 million. $150 million is not the end goal and even if it doesn't make it there, there's little reason not to suspect a sequel is already being given the go-ahead.

Sadly, none of the other new releases connected with audiences over the weekend.

Charlie Wilson's War became the first Tom Hanks' wide release since That Thing You Do! to miss the $10 million mark during its opening pulling in just $9.66 million over the weekend. This poor opening came despite excellent reviews and Golden Globe nominations, which is further proof that people are just not interested in watching any movie to do with current war on terror; the political atmosphere is just not right. (On a side note, John Cusack wrote and starred in a film, War, Inc., which is having all sort of trouble finding a distributor for the same reason.)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street came within a rounding error of $10 million over the weekend despite opening in just 1249 theaters. Should the film earn more nominations and maybe a few wins, its word-of-mouth could match its its reviews which would help it grow at the box office. That said, $100 million is now a pipe dream, but it should still match its production budget domestically and earn a profit early in its home market run.

P.S., I Love You missed the top five with $6.48 million over the weekend, but that's close enough to Thursday's predictions to call a victory. With no new wide releases this weekend, and only one next weekend, it should stick around longer than its per theater average and reviews would otherwise indicate, but it won't reach anywhere beyond a midlevel hit.

Despite earning excellent reviews, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story bombed with just $4.17 million during its opening weekend. Personally, I blame four of the six writers of Scary Movie who have managed to create of string of pseudo-spoofs that are so bad that moviegoers are actively avoiding every film in the genre. Word-of-mouth will help the film, but not before the home market. I just hope the studio doesn't skip on the DVD release because of the film's box office performance. I could understand if does, but I hope not.

As for Christmas day, despite three new wide releases, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets remained in first place with $13.66 million during the day for a total of $65.44 million after five. I Am Legend landed in second place with $9.78 million during Christmas day and has $150.95 million in total.

The first of the new releases was Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, which earned third place with $9.52 million. To put this into perspective, the record for a Christmas Day opening is just $10.22 million earned by Ali back in 2001. While that film earned less than $60 million in total, several recent films have made less opening on Christmas day and still crossed $100 million in total. Dreamgirls did it last year, but it opened in less than 1000 theaters. Cheaper by the Dozen did it in 2003, but it was a family film and was boosted by the holidays. It will be interesting to see how well this film does from now on and how the reviews affect its performance.

The Great Debaters placed sixth during its opening day earning $3.60 million in just 1164 theaters. With good reviews, but not award-worthy reviews, its legs should strong like most December releases. Look for it to beat initial expectations and earn even more on the home market.

The final wide release this Christmas was The Water Horse, which bombed with just $2.39 million in 2772 theaters, barely reaching the top ten. Reviews were good, but not good enough to save the film.


Filed under: I am Legend, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Charlie Wilson's War, P.S. I Love You, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, The Great Debaters, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story