Sunday, December 07, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Leftover's Anyone?

Typically, the weekend after Thanksgiving is not a busy one at the box office. This year proved to be no exception to that rule. The only major wide release was almost completely ignored and the rest of the Top 10 dropped off on average by 56%. I guess everyone is still full after last weekend.

If they are full, it is of Christmas cheer. Sorry, cheesiness is unavoidable when it comes to the holidays. I’m sure its likely fairly avoidable in FOUR CHRISTMASES as well. The Vince Vaughan/Reese Witherspoon holiday comedy has earned over $70 million in 12 days and had one of the strongest holds in the Top 10. The film will certainly see strong holds as the happy day grows nearer. As for the rest of the holdovers, it was a matter of watching to see who would fall off the most. The biggest losers were BOLT, QUANTUM OF SOLACE and MADAGASCAR 2, all dropping off over 60%. Meanwhile, AUSTRALIA held the fourth narrowest decline overall but 52% is probably still a great deal lower than Fox had hoped for. So far, AUSTRALIA has made $30 million domestically. That’s only about $100 million off from the production cost. G’day, mate!

The Top 10 saw two debuts this week. One was a modest success and one was an embarrassment. PUNISHER: WAR ZONE pulled in one third of what its 2004 predecessor, THE PUNISHER. No other new title came close to 2500 screen count and yet, right below it on the chart, a title playing in three times less screens, made nearly as much coin. CADILLAC RECORDS, a film that is more likely to earn Golden Globe nominations rather than Oscars, stars Adrian Brody and Beyonce Knowles as the legendary Etta James. The film finished with the second highest average in the Top 10 but with the onslaught of more prestigious prestige pictures coming in the weeks ahead, the music will fade pretty quick.

As per usual, all the art house love happened below the Top 10. With awards season now in full swing, limited runs will be the hottest tickets around as they test the waters in different markets in hopes of a healthy expansion. Two titles with no such worries thus far are National Board of Review winner for Best Picture, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and six-time Satellite Award nominee, MILK. The two have certainly started strong and each earned on average around $18K per screen. These numbers are incredibly high for holdover art titles. They aren’t the only game in town though. Opening on just three screens in New York, L.A. and Toronto this weekend was Ron Howard’s FROST/NIXON. The film took in the second highest per screen average of the year with $60K. It too has received some very promising early award nods and Frank Langella’s performance is sure to drive more audiences to see the successful stage translation in the weeks to come.

NEXT WEEK: The art house gets crowded with Stephen Daldry’s THE READER, WENDY AND LUCY, starring Michelle Williams in a much buzzed about performance, Clint Eastwood’s grumpy old man movie, GRAN TURINO and another stage translation, DOUBT. On the heavier side of the scale, Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly attempt to toy with sci-fi gold with the remake of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

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