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Christmas Gifts Include a Major Milestone plus a Lump of Coal or Two

December 27th, 2010

It was a good news, really bad news weekend. Let's start with the good news. The overall box office for the year reached $10 billion for only the second time in history. Bad news, the box office this past weekend was so bad that 2010 lost its lead over 2009. It did rise from last weekend by 8% to $145 million, but that's 47% lower than the same weekend last year. Granted, Christmas Eve landing on a Friday did have a lot to do with that, but this is still a terrible result. Year-to-date, 2010 has now earned $10.33 billion, which is about $50 million behind last year's pace. It won't get better next weekend, so 2010 won't be setting the record.

Little Fockers wasn't exactly a disaster, but it certainly wasn't an unqualified success either. The last film in the Meet the Parents franchise opened with $30.83 million over the weekend and $45.08 million in total. It made less over five days than Meet the Fockers made in just three, plus it had six years of inflation to boost its box office numbers. With no competition next weekend, it should be able to match its production budget by the time the next wide release hits theaters. Unfortunately, with terrible reviews, there's little chance it will have the same legs as its predecessor and it will have to rely on international numbers and / or home market numbers to break even.

True Grit was one of the few bright spots at the box office, as it placed second with a surprisingly strong opening of $25.6 million / $36.82 million. This is arguably the biggest opening ever for a Western. (Wild Wild West had a larger opening, but you could also argue that was not a true Western but some weird Sci-Fi hybrid.) It is absolutely the biggest opening in the Coen Brothers' career and with Oscar-worthy reviews, it should have the legs to get to $100 million, which would be a first for the brothers.

Tron: Legacy fell a little faster than expected, falling to $19.15 million for the weekend and $87.37 million after two. It will have no trouble hitting $100 million, but will have to wait till next weekend to do so. With a $200 million budget, it will need strong international numbers and home market sales to break even, but while I'm not too sure about the former, it should perform extremely well on Blu-ray.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader held on a lot better than expected, down just 23% to $9.48 million over the weekend for a total of $62.60 million after three. Its run so far is very similar to The Princess and the Frog, which means it is on pace to reach $100 million, barely. This is good news for the studio, as no film they've released in 2010 has hit the century mark. Going a full year without such a hit could have proven embarrassing. In fact, that could have something to do with another box office result of the weekend, but I'll get to that in a second.

Yogi Bear 3D fell to fifth place with $8.8 million over the past three days and $36.79 million after ten. There's little good news with this result, and by the time January wide releases start coming out, theater owners will be looking to drop this film.

Gulliver's Travels couldn't even match the lowered expectations, placing eighth with $6.31 million. Granted, it was only in theaters for two days, but this is still a terrible result for a film that cost $112 million to make. I think the studio saw this coming, and decided to put all their resources into helping Dawn Treader top $100 million instead of spending money on this movie. Given its reviews, this was likely a wise choice.

The Fighter was a pseudo-sophomore release having spent one week in limited release. During its second week in wide release, it managed $8.5 million for a running total of $27.6 million. Assuming it can grab some more major nominations, it should match its original expectations. On the other hand, How Do You Know? is an utter bomb. This past weekend it fell out of the top 10 with just $3.7 million over the weekend and $15.16 million after two.


Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Little Fockers, Gulliver's Travels, The Fighter, Tron: Legacy, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Yogi Bear, How Do You Know?, True Grit