Sunday, December 20, 2009

Black Sheep @ The Box Office: Avatar Goes Far!

There are two major points to discuss this week when it comes to the box office. The first is that giant blue movie, AVATAR. Studios avoided pitting anything against the anticipated juggernaut, except for a feeble and unsuccessful attempt on Sony's part to counterprogram with DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? (The answer to that question, by the way, is no, no one has apparently heard of them.) AVATAR may not have done the business they were expecting but it was still certainly an event. I caught the film on Saturday morning and as the theatre had not opened yet, there were lines of people around the block waiting to get in. The IMAX screenings were sold out for the day but yet the people were still pouring in to the lobby in hopes of a miracle. Fox insists that AVATAR would have grossed even more if it weren't for the snow storms in the North East of the country and they are probably right. Despite the excuses though, AVATAR still made over $70 million, an average of over $21K per theatre, and with the holidays and inevitably good word of mouth to follow, it will certainly go on to justify its own hype.

The other story at the box office this week is the influence of the Golden Globes, if there is any such thing. AVATAR itself scored a Best Picture nod but I doubt that had any influence on anyone's decision to see it. Fellow Best Picture nominee, UP IN THE AIR continued its successful expansion, going from 72 to 175 screens and seeing its gross increase by nearly 30%. The film goes wide on Wednesday, hitting 1800 screens, and looks poised to be a holiday favorite. Another Best Picture nominee, Rob Marshall's star-studded musical, NINE, platformed on 4 screens this week before going wide next Friday. The result was an impressive $62K per screen average. Reviews are mixed though so it should be interesting to see if audiences find it amidst the busy frame. Tom Ford's A SINGLE MAN, nominated for Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore), dropped off by 36% this week but still managed a healthy $15K average before its wide expansion next week. Troubling figures came in for Peter Jackson's THE LOVELY BONES. The film has not been seeing much awards love and dropped off over 60% in its second frame. It too goes wider next weekend. Two other actor nominees, Emily Blunt in THE YOUNG VICTORIA and Jeff Bridges in CRAZY HEART made their debuts. Bridges fared better with an average of $21K on four screens and Blunt pulled in a decent $7.4K on 20 screens. And finally, PRECIOUS expanded past its 664 screen count where it had stalled a couple weeks back to hit over 1000 screens. The Best Picture nominee still dropped off 12% though, signaling that its once bright hopes for Oscar gold are dwindling.

NEXT WEEK: It's Christmas! This means big titles and small chipmunks apparently. ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKUEL opens on over 3700 screens on Wednesday, hoping to duplicate the success of the original. Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin hit 2800 screens with their Golden Globe nominated comedy, IT'S COMPLICATED. And Guy Ritchie's remake of SHERLOCK HOLMES, starring Robert Downey Jr, will hit more than 3600 screens. There will be plenty of presents under Hollywood's tree this year.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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