Monday, December 28, 2009

Black Sheep @ The Box Office: Merry Christmas, Hollywood.

Well, I'm full. I had plenty to eat over the last few days and food exhaustion may be the reason for my late report but I wasn't the only one who ingested a lot this weekend. Moviergoers ate up almost everything Hollywood was serving at the box office for the year's last full frame. Christmas Day has been a launching pad for a variety of fare over the years but this year it fell on a Friday and got a very big present - the biggest Christmas Day opening in history.

SHERLOCK HOLMES may have missed out on the weekend crown - an achievement claimed by AVATAR in its second weekend - but, with $24.8 million on Christmas Day alone, it easily surpassed former champ, MEET THE FOCKERS ($19.5 million), to become the best Christmas Day opening of all time. AVATAR also passed MEET THE FOCKERS, with $23.6 million, which is not bad at all for a film in its second week. SHERLOCK HOLMES ultimately brought in $65.4 million all weekend for a stellar wide per screen average of $18K. I can think of one person who just had the best Christmas of their lives - once-promising director, Guy Ritchie now has his first actual hit. And come to think of it, once washed up actor, Robert Downey Jr., now has two bonafide franchises on his hands. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, indeed.

James Cameron's AVATAR finished the weekend with $75 million, off only 2.6% from last week. It has already pulled in over $600 million internationally and it's success has naturally sprung talk of a sequel. I implore you, Mr. Cameron, leave this film alone. Take your wonderful technology and incredible imagination and create another great new thing. The point of AVATAR was to create something no one had ever seen and a sequel would inherently defeat that purpose. I'm asking nicely.

Speaking of sequels, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKEQUEL (sp?), opened in third place after dethroning AVATAR on it's early Wednesday release. When the first film came out, I was floored that anyone wanted to see it but then it was huge. It brought in $44 million opening weekend, a couple of weeks before Christmas, and went on to make $212 million in North America. So this time, I was ready for it. The question wasn't whether it would do well; it was whether it would do better than the first. And I'm sad to say it did. On Wednesday, it brought in $18 million and it would finish its five day run with $77 million, $28 million more than the first made in five-days. Good job, people. I applaud you.

Opening in fourth place, the Nancy Meyers comedy, IT'S COMPLICATED. Comparatively, the opening is modest, pulling in a near $8K average on almost 2900 screens. It is still a strong opening for an R-rated adult comedy and Meyer's second largest December opening, after the Mel Gibson hit, WHAT WOMEN WANT. Not to sound too sexist but I'm thinking that Meryl Streep's biggest fans, people like my mom, were probably busy with holiday stuff this weekend so movies might not have been their priority. Good word of mouth should carry this one well into the new year.

That said, I actually did go to a movie with my mom this Christmas. My holiday movie this year was Rob Marshall's NINE. It was my second viewing and my mom's first (she loved it!). I was disappointed on first viewing and wanted to like it more. I did definitely enjoy it more on second viewing but people were less than enthused about making it their holiday movie. Yes, NINE increased its gross over 2000% this week but it could barely muster a $4K per screen average on 1400 screens. A film with this pedigree and this kind of push should have been much bigger. Oscar chances for the incredible cast and film were on the rise in the last week but the lack of audience support has definitely set them back.

Outside of that, most films in the Top 10 saw slight declines this week - except oddly enough for Disney's A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which plummeted by 60%. I guess the movies are a place to escape Christmas, not celebrate it further. THE BLIND SIDE and INVICTUS saw modest increases well into their runs, proving inspiration goes well with turkey and stuffing. And Oscar hopeful, fan favorite and critic's choice, UP IN THE AIR, expanded to over 1800 screens and saw a healthy 266% increase for a slot in the Top 5.

Outside the Top 10, Heath Ledger's last screen performance, one that was not completed and was filled in by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Ferrell, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS, was attended by Terry Gilliam fans everywhere, pulling in an average of $32K on 4 screens. Personally, I'm avoiding the film. I realized that I would rather leave my last memory of Ledger as THE DARK KNIGHT. There was plenty of holiday cheer actually for platform expansions. Jean-Marc Vallee's THE YOUNG VICTORIA added 143 screens for a 277% increase; Pedro Almodovar's BROKEN EMBRACES added 41 screens and improved over 75%; Tom Ford's A SINGLE MAN added 37 screens and improved over 120%; and CRAZY HEART, starring Oscar hopeful, Jeff Bridges, tacked on 8 screens and saw an 88% increase.

NEXT WEEK: Nothing; I got nothing. That's because there is nothing coming out next week. Hollywood is done with 2009. The only release is a limited one on Wednesday - Austrian director, Michael Haneke's critical darling, THE WHITE RIBBON, bows in New York and L.A. in order to qualify for the Oscars. The box office report will not appear next weekend, in this form that is. I will be looking back at 2009 as a whole and breaking it down into winners and losers. Good times.


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