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2009 is True Royalty

December 10th, 2009

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It's official: 2009 has broken the record for the highest total box office, surpassing the total earnings for 2007 this week. And the box office should only get hotter as we near Christmas. This weekend, Disney releases its first "hand animated" film in more than five years, which should help it top the charts with ease. In fact, I think it will top last year's number one film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, although I appear to be in the minority in that opinion.

The Princess and the Frog is the obvious number one film this the weekend. As Disney's first "hand animated" film in more than five years, it has a lot of buzz from aficionados of the medium. Additionally, the reviews have been very strong, most likely enough to help secure an Oscar nomination. It is also a great time of year to open a family film, which should be a recipe for sure success. The question is how great that success will be. It appears the consensus among analysts is $26 million to $28 million, but that seems low to me. After all, this time last year The Day the Earth Stood Still opened with more than $30 million, and it was a bad movie that was plagued with mediocre buzz. And in 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunks opened with $44 million and it was equally bad and had to deal with I Am Legend as competition. Finally, so far The Princess and the Frog has made nearly $3 million in just two weeks in just two theaters. If the film doesn't open with a per theater average of at least $10,000, then I would be shocked. That puts its bottom end at $35 million, while $40 million isn't out of the question, at least in my mind. Like I said, I am a lot more bullish on this film's chances that other analysts, so keep that in mind.

The only other wide release of the week is Invictus, which is the latest film from Clint Eastwood. That alone should help bring in moviegoers, and the good reviews should also help. The reviews are not "Awards Season" good, so it might get lost in the shuffle as more Oscar contenders are released. Then again, it already took home three National Board of Review awards. (Clint Eastwood won for Best Director, Morgan Freeman won for Best Actor (tying with George Clooney) and the film won the Freedom of Expression Award.) About the only downside I can see is its subject matter. Not a lot of people here will be too interested in the healing process of post-apartheid South Africa or rugby and this will likely stop it from being a major hit. That said, a $12 million opening and a $50 million total box office is still a strong run for a film like this. And if it does start picking up more nominations / awards, it could finish with $75 million, or more.

The best of the holdovers should be The Blind Side with about $13 million over the weekend, more or less. If it can finish on the "more" side of $13 million, then it will have a much better shot at $175 million in total. Even if it doesn't, it should reach $150 million by next weekend, and become the biggest hit in Sandra Bullock's career by Christmas.

New Moon is already the biggest hit in the career of most of its cast. Then again, most of them don't really have any credits outside of this franchise. And that's not snark... okay, it's not all snark, but for a lot of the principal cast, this is their first break in the movie business. New Moon should add between $6 and $7 million, which would lift its total to $265 million. However, it is shedding theaters and its per theater average is getting really low, so its decline will just accelerate from now on.

Brothers should round out the top five with just over $5 million over the weekend for a total of close to $18 million after two. This is in line with original expectations, more or less.


Filed under: The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Brothers, The Blind Side, Invictus, The Princess and the Frog