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Steppin' Out on Top

January 17th, 2007

Martin Luther King Jr. long weekend saw a new film take top spot while several films in the top five outperformed expectations. However, overall the box office was 3% lower from last weekend at $128 million and just 2% higher than the same weekend last year. That's likely not enough to keep up with ticket price inflation. Obviously it is too early to panic, or even make predictions, but this is not the start the industry was hoping for.

Stomp the Yard, or as it was previously known, Steppin', led the way on the box office charts this weekend, pulling in $21.8 million from Friday to Sunday and $25.9 million including Monday. It wasn't the only film to top its four-day prediction in just three days, but it was still the biggest surprise of the weekend. As for the film's future, the holiday opening and lowly reviews will likely leave it with short legs, but with a production budget estimated at under $15 million, it is well on its way to profitability.

Night at the Museum was not able to remain in first place for the fourth weekend in a row leaving Meet the Parents as the only Ben Stiller film to manage that feat. On the other hand, $17.2 million / $21.8 million is still better than expected and by this time next week it will have become the sixth film from 2006 to reach $200 million at the box office.

With $8.9 million / $11.7 million, Pursuit of Happyness finished just a tiny margin below expectations, but still finished one place higher in third. The film is already a big hit and at this pace could knock Over the Hedge out of 10th place for the year.

While Dreamgirls was the big winner at the Golden Globes, its expansion didn't go as smoothly as anticipated. (Perhaps people were more interested in seeing if the film won many awards than actually seeing it.) From Friday to Sunday the film made $8.4 million, while adding in Monday gives us a figure of $10.3 million. However, the added publicity should help it climb the charts during the rest of the week while putting $100 million well within reach.

The final film in the top five was Freedom Writers with $7.3 million / $8.8 million. This is in line with predictions, but weaker competition allowed it to place higher on the charts.

Things are a little more confusing with our next film, Alpha Dog, which placed sixth or seventh depending on if you include Monday or not. During the three day weekend the film managed sixth, just ahead of Children of Men, both with $6.4 million. However, adding in Monday and the films finished in the opposite order with $7.4 million apiece. Long term, Alpha Dog should benefit from reviews that were the best of any wide release of the week, but will be seen as a low-level hit at best.

One place lower on the charts was Primeval as the film was hamstrung by a sudden release date change. It's $6.0 million / $6.8 million is as good as one could expect given the circumstances, but had the film been handled better it could have doubled that result. And that's even taking into account the films terrible reviews.

So far there have been a few films to expand wide during the month of January, none of which have really managed to make the leap. The latest to struggle was Arthur and the Invisibles as it brought in just $4.3 million / $5.7 million. This is lower than Happy N'Ever After opened with last weekend, and this despite a holiday. Granted, the reviews were poor, but it should have still done much better. One last note, this film is the first of a planned trilogy, but it appears that the movies will have to earn the vast majority of their box office on the international scene. And even then, they could have serious problems just breaking even.

Since we've already gone through the first nine, we might as well round out the top ten with Charlotte's Web. The film added $3.7 million / $5.3 million over the weekend for a running tally of $73.7 million, which is a little low compared to its production budget.

Moving onto the sophomore class, there were only two movies that have not been mentioned already: Happily N'Ever After and Code Name: The Clearer. The former fell to 12th place with $3.1 million / $4.3 million while the latter fell out of the top twenty with a mere $1.6 million / $2.0 million. Even ignoring the 3-day / 4-day issue, these were still terrible holds and both films will practically disappear from theaters by Friday.


Filed under: Night at the Museum, The Pursuit of Happyness, Charlotte's Web, Stomp the Yard, Freedom Writers, Children of Men, Happily N'Ever After, Arthur et les Minimoys, Primeval, Code Name: The Cleaner, Alpha Dog