Box Office Archive for December, 2009

Avatar Numbers… Again…

There are only two films in box office history that have shown anything quite like Avatar’s second weekday block so far- The Chronicles of Narnia and Titanic.
Obviously, the traditional limits on December openings have something to do with this. But still…
Narnia started off with a $65 million, but was a bit soft, relative to that opening, on the weekdays. The movie accelerated a little on its second set of weekdays – from $3.6m to $5.7m on Thursday 1 to 2 being the biggest leap – and faster again in its third weekday set, nearly doubling M-Wed numbers. The big number, however, was still $11.9m on Dec 26.
Titanic opened on Dec 19, the same relative Friday as Avatar. A $28.6m weekend led to a decent week. The second weekday set was up about 35% a day, though there was a massive jump from Christmas Eve, a down day every year, and New Year’s Eve, a very strong box office day. That New Year’s Eve high was $11.6m.
Last Tuesday, Avatar had the #3 Tuesday of all time with $16.1m, behind only The Dark Knight and opening day for Transformers. Yesterday, the number went UP – which has literally happened only 3 other times on a Tuesday in history with a gross over $8m – to $18.3 million… becoming the new #3 Tuesday of all-time.
This pushed Avatar to $250.4m in 12 days… #6 fastest all-time… and #1 non-sequel all-time.
Based on this, you’re probably looking at about $18m tomorrow and about $22m on New Year’s Eve Thursday… and about $20m on Friday, Day 15. That would make Avatar the #3 fastest grosser of all time, ahead of only TDK and Trannys 2. And there is a good shot at hitting $350m by the end of business Sunday… Day 17… pushing it to #2 behind TDK only. If for some reason it doesn’t hit $350m on Sunday, it would still be #2 all-time fastest if it hit $350 any time in the 5 days next week.
Oh yeah… there is a very real chance that the film will break $1 billion worldwide before it’s fourth weekend starts. If not, it seems pretty sure to happen in that fourth weekend.
The fastest movie to $1 billion worldwide to date is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which did it in nine weeks.


Up & Down The Avatar

This started as an entry only about the second story, below. But on a whim, I clicked on BO Mojo for Monday’s Avatar number, aka Torture For Some Of You.
Second Monday – $19.4m estimate
It’s the #7 Monday of all-time. It’s up from last Monday by 19%, which as you may recall, was a pretty amazing day as well, which we attributed to last weekend’s weather.
The only second Monday that is better is Shrek 2, which was on its way to being the #2 domestic grosser of all time (now #3, behind The Dark Knight as well as Titanic.) Oh yes… and that Monday was Memorial Day.
In fact, the only non-holiday Monday bigger was The Dark Knight‘s fourth day of release. Avatar, which is still $93 million behind TDK’s domestic 11-day gross, did $8.9m more than TDK on their respective Day 11s. Catching up a bit.
Avatar was the 10th fastest film in history to $200 million. If it hits $250m tomorrow or Wednesday, it will be the sixth fastest to $250m. It looks to move up to being fourth fastest grossing film in history by the tine it hits $300m domestic this weekend. It should be #2 all-time by the time it hist $400m.
Still. I’m not sure at all that Avatar will outgross The Dark Knight‘s $533 million domestic. But it will pass TDK’s $470m international number before the New Year’s weekend is over.
Sorry for the torture for those of you who hate this. I do understand that I was not this aggressive about reporting the daily Dark Knight numbers. I probably should have been. But as the above notes, the numbers weren’t that interesting after the first 10 days. Amazingly, Avatar is still growing.
It took a week for Robert J. Elisberg to take a swing at Pete Hammond and Steve Pond over glowing reports about the Avatar screening at The Academy.
Firstly… trying to use Academy screenings to measure how movies are doing with The Academy is a bad, bad idea. Always has been. Always will be. For one thing, there are always a parade of varying interpretations of what happened. I don’t think there has been a movie that’s won Best Picture in recent years that was not said by some to have had a modest to poor response at the Academy screening… as well as someone saying that it was gangbusters.
The only reliable measurement to get from an Academy screening is how many people showed up. This tells you, very quickly, how much work the distributor in question has to do to get other 4500+ voting Academy members to see the movie.
By that measure, Fox had a great screening. And the film’s huge success should get them to something like 50% – 60% of Academy membership seeing the movie in theaters before the next couple of weeks are over. Fox, no doubt, will work hard to get the rest into screenings in the weeks thereafter.
It is one of the mistakes I think Oscar prognosticators make… spending too much time trying to read the group. Sometimes, the answer is bigger than the group. Avatar is one of those movies.
You know when it was clear that Avatar was the movie to beat for Best Picture? Well… the opportunity for it to change the game was there before it screened. It’s a soft year. But then, there was the night of that first look… December 10. (Here is the column I wrote the next day.)
(So ends the self-serving section of this entry.)
In any case, Elisberg seems kinda angry that Pete & Steve heard things went well at that screening. Could it be that he doesn’t much care for the movie?
“I was at that screening. In fact, I was first in line.”
Creepy. An hour early at The Academy. But more important, if Elisberg was first in then he wasn’t there when Academy members were actually turned away… a very rare occurrence. Elisberg acknowledges that the theater was full by showtime, but tries various ways of suggesting that this wasn’t special or at all meaningful. He even uses the capacity audience for Up… which looks to be the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture in Oscar history… as a negative for Avatar.
“More importantly, from the few people I and friends spoke to afterward, the reaction was absolutely mixed.
Everyone was awed by the otherworldly-spectacular special effects. But for some, the script was a bit ordinary and ultimately somewhat disappointing. Others, though, while acknowledging the script weaknesses, overlooked them and adored the film.”
Well. That’s it then. Mr. Elisberg’s circle of friends and their snap decision defines the film’s Oscar potential. Much better read than Pete or Steve. (that’s sarcasm.)
As I say, I am not in disagreement with Elisberg that the Academy screening is a bad way to read the Oscar future of a film… as is Pete’s “film class” where he screens awards hopefuls. But Pete does get, in a general way, some very interesting reads off of his class and the many, many Q&As he does. In the weeks before nomination, Pete is usually the person most likely to smell a change in the voting class before it happens. This doesn’t mean his guesses are always right. But his thermometer is placed in a good place, particularly late in the nomination season.
I guess what strikes me about Elisberg’s attack is that he is so definitive about his perspective being right when the takes from Pete & Steve, while perhaps a bit hyperbolic, are more in line with stories I have heard from Academy members who were at that screening than Elisberg’s… including from at some who were turned away.
I don’t actually object to Elisberg adding his perspective to this minor event. But perhaps it could be his experience and not mean that Pete & Steve must be shills to repeat what they heard.
In the end, the likelihood that Avatar will win Best Picture is all about it being seen as a game-changer, a successful entertainment for the world, and a massive commercial hit. That and the lack of an alternative that is nearly as muscular.


Weekend Box Office by Klady – Big X-Mas

To start, Klady’s Avatar estimate is $1.3m off what the studio is touting and $2.8m lower than WB on Sherlock Holmes. Okay. We’ll see where it goes in the finals.
What’s really remarkable about the weekend’s record box office is that you have to go all the way down to #8 on the “biggest weekend ever” list to find a #2 film as big as Sherlock Holmes or a #1 as small as Avatar. On top of that, you have a $49.9m estimate on A&TC: The Squeakquel, which is another Christmas record breaker and the #7 December opening of all time. This was, unusually, a success of an array of titles, not one mega-number driving the weekend to a record.
Klady’s estimate has Avatar $1.5 million behind The Dark Knight‘s #1 Second Weekend gross off all time. And it’s just ahead of Shrek 2, which in its second weekend was the box office leader of the aforementioned #8 Best Weekend ever, followed by newcomer The Day After Tomorrow, which opened about $6 million bigger than Holmes. (Note again: December openings are different. By estimate, Sherlock’s launch is the #5 Dec open of all time and the #1 Christmas opening by a margin of almost 30 million bucks. No small success.)
The huge difference between this weekend and that Shrek 2/Day After Tomorrow weekend is that #3 movie. For that 2004 weekend, #3 was Troy’s 3rd weekend with a $12m take. Even this weekend’s #4 movie, It’s Complicated, doubled that.
The riches of this weekend are myriad. As noted above, this is the biggest 1-5 punch ever. Avatar, Sherlock, and Munks2 are now the #2, #5, and #7 openings in December history. The previous best, by the measure, was #1, #10, and #11 in 2007.
There is some down side…
2.5x the Friday start of Sherlock Holmes has to be a little disappointing, in light of a great number overall for the film. Does it mean anything in terms of word of mouth? Probably not. It was, I think, the intense must-see that made the opening day number bigger than proportional to the other 2 days, not a decreasing audience over a 3-day.
The “awards movies” were not sensational. $11.5m for Up In The Air on 1895 screens is okay, but no world beater. (it is, however, almost as much as the entire gross of The Hurt Locker.) Nine, on 1412 screens, is close to a wipeout with $5.4m. Invictus is looking like a $35m – $40m total domestic grosser. And Precious is now in the under-$1m a week category, looking like it will settle in at about $45m domestic. And in smaller openings, Crazy Heart did $13,170 per on 12, which is nothing special. Nor is A Single Man‘s $7130 per on 46.
Of course, Avatar is now looking like the awards movie to beat. It had the #26 domestic opening of all-time. It was the #26 Day Four grosser as well. Day Five, #23. Day Six, #22. Day Seven, #21. Day Eight, #16. Day Nine, #11. Day Ten, by estimate, #9. Who knows where it will be by this time next week?


Friday Estimates by Klady – Chris-massacre!

Not much more to say than I said last night. (And I guess that if I mentioned that Nikki got someone to cough up early numbers on Christmas Day, it’s worth pointing out that the number was wrong, as usual, Nikki wrote over the error as though it never happened, and she continue to run a non-analysis of what is to come this weekend.)
I know that some will think it is Sherlock bashing, but with an estimated $1.2 million lead, Holmes over ‘Tar, I expect Avatar to move ahead today, much as it passed the Chipmunks on Day 2 and on Sunday as well. With the additional fire of opening day, it is both too easy to overestimate how the movies stack up against one another and to undervalue the huge achievement of opening Holmes to a $25.5 million Christmas Day. Given that Christmas is a major moviegoing day, the built-up must see for a movie like Holmes could be expected to reflect a 15%-20% bump on opening day. And we did see a 5% Saturday drop on the first Saturday of Avatar.
We shall see.
It’s Complicated‘s start will make it Nancy Meyers’ best opening other than What Women Want, which then starred a tip-top movie star in Mel Gibson. Streep is having a great run, but not like Gibson in his heyday. And this opening is commensurate with Julie & Julia.
The real cume for The Squeakquel is $41.5m , which isn’t much behind the first 3 days of the first film. (I’d say “original,” but that word couldn’t be much less appropriate for these films.)
Up In The Air is the best reviewed film of the new commercial group, but the numbers are not as thrilling as the reviews. Paramount is walking an interesting line here… wanting to take advantage of the love… wanting to keep riding the awards season… but not wanting to start a flow of “why isn’t it Juno?” stories by going full out and not doing Juno numbers.
And on a purely experiential note – grain of salt – I was surprised by a 40-something woman who goes with a group of girlfriends to the movies on a regular basis, thinking that It’s Complicated was the only option for women. When I suggested Up In, I had to explain why it worked for women. I don’t know if Par is punching that audience hard enough. But this is very much Kendrick & Farmiga’s film as well. And only recently, they went to a rom-com sell in spots. But it’s a tricky piece, though I think it will work for all adults.
Nine suffered its reviews in a real way. Unanimity amongst non-quoters can still have an effect, especially for a musical with most of its appeal in the big cities. Can it actually find itself unnominated by The Academy? Probably not. But it’s a Pyrrhic victory. “Harvey’s dead” stories will start before the holidays are over.
Invictus is also done… but will still probably get a nomination. But it’s good news for someone – maybe Lee Daniels or Lone Scherfig – because Eastwood is no lock for DGA or The Academy as director.
Disney’s mishandling of The Princess & The Frog will be blamed on the previous administration. Rich Ross will have the pleasure of managing up to an angry John Lassetter. They really do have to do a better job with Disney animated titles, aka not Pixar. This one is looking to come up short of Bolt, which is a real shame.


Christmas Day BO

Someone told Nikki Finke that Avatar and Sherlock Holmes were a virtual tie today with $24 million each and that both would do near $70m for the weekend. That someone, however, is kinda pulling the weekend number out of their ass.
Here’s the deal. There is no real precedent for any of this. A Friday Christmas Day hasn’t happened since 1998. The #1 film that Christmas was Patch Adams, which opened to $8.1 million that Friday/Christmas and did 3.12x that number for the 3-day.
Last year, day-before-Christmas opener Marley & Me had a $20 million Friday and did 2.6x that number for the 3-day.
The previous biggest Christmas Day was Meet The Fockers, which had $19.5 million that day. But it was a Saturday and the fourth day in the run. Christmas Eve is always a down day, so the 3-day isn’t a fair measure. If you start the 3-day with the Saturday, running through Monday, it was $52.9m. The early/premature estimate is that the two films had a 23% better Christmas than Fockers, which would translate into a $65.1m 3-day.
But like I say… this is all completely a guess by everyone. The rules of this week are not consistent with what we’d expect in the rest of the year. And the “it’s tied” thing is pretty much an admission that the estimates are still not formulated terribly clearly. Tomorrow morning’s numbers, whatever they are, will be a little iffy as well.
All that said, two films breaking the record for Christmas Day at once is pretty amazing. Both studios should be very happy. (Nikki’s source is also forgetting – shocker – that the same number for Avatar and Sherlock is advantage Sherlock, which doesn’t have the benefit of 3D pricing.)
Still, this is a bigger deal for Avatar than Sherlock in that this is Day 8 for the film. If $24 is accurate, that’s a 71% increase on the previous Christmas high for a movie not in its opening week. (It was Day 9 for LOTR: Return of the King.
And LOTR: Return of the King is the only standard by which Avatar‘s box office can really be measured at this point. If $24m is an accurate number, then Avatar is about $6.5 million behind King’s 8-day number and about $20 million behind the number as of the end of Christmas Day. Avatar could close that gap this weekend… or not. Impossible to say until it happens or doesn’t.
King’s 10-day was $190m. Avatar will top that. But the end of the second weekend (Day 12 for King) was $222m, which Avatar will not top.
King had $290m domestic in the bank by the end of the New Year’s holiday (Jan 4), about 64% of its final domestic total. Where will Avatar by the equivalent time? And will it have the same, better, or weaker legs in the new year. We’ll see.
And as for Sherlock… one day doesn’t answer much, except that it looks like a $200 million-plus movie. It could be a little lower… could be over $250m. No way of knowing yet.
Anyway… things are still interesting… if you are interested in this stuff. I expect Klady’s numbers in the morning… they should be a bit closer to reality, given that they will include late shows from the west coast tonight (Friday).


Box Office Hell for Christmas 3-Day… 25-27

(updated with BO Guru, 12;12p Thursday)
You can see how wild the guessing is getting with so many big releases arriving at the same time…


Avatar Moving Along

For people who follow box office seriously – as opposed to comparing December openings to May openings and judging based on it – Avatar’s Tuesday number of $16.1 million is ever more spectacular than the Monday number, which felt like it was pushed a bit by weekend weather issues. It’s the best Tuesday ever in a December and 27% better than any December Tuesday that isn’t Christmas Day or the day after, which are the strongest moviegoing days in the month each year.
In 5 days, it’s $18.3m out ahead of I Am Legend and just $14.6 million behind LOTR: Return of the King‘s 5-day. King opened on a Wednesday, so their 5-day was an opening followed by a weekend, which should have put it out ahead for the December record.
Tomorrow, Avatar should fall to between $7.5m and $9 million, in the long-standing tradition of Christmas Eve. And then, on Friday, don’t be surprised if the film beats Meet The Focker‘s Christmas Day record of $19.54 million.
All three new titles – Alvin & The Chipmunks, Sherlock Holmes, and It’s Complicated – should open strong, though historically, the competitive Christmas weekend leads to opening 3-days of $30 million or less.
The outlier is Marley & Me, which did have a first 3 days of $41 million, opening on Christmas Day last year, though the weekend stats are skewed because it was a Thursday opening.
There were four wide releases that opened Christmas Day Last year…
Marley & Me – $14.4m – $41.1m 3-day
Benjamin Button – $11.9m – $31.4m 3-day
Bedtime Stories – $10.6m – $30.6m 3-day
Valkyrie – $8.5m – $24.1m 3-day
Things could look similar this year, though some heavier trickle up seems likely.
And we also have Nine and Up In the Air going out on 1400+ screens each.
Roughly, I think Avatar is looking at $50m or so, both Chipmunks and Sherlock should start around $40m, Complicated around $25m, and the Up In The Air expansion around $15m. Or something like that.


Blue Monday

Well, the snow seems to have melted on Monday. In fact, many businesses, including municipal offices, were closed on Monday as towns dug out. And the Avatar number was outrageous.
$16.4 million.
I can now tell you that Fox was guessing at about 2/3rds of that going into last evening. So this number is a bit overwhelming to them as well.
Perspective – This is the #11 Monday gross of all-time. It is the #3 non-holiday Monday of all time, surpassed only by Pirates 2 and The Dark Knight, both of which were mid-summer movies…. both of which has had opening 3-days of over $135 million. This is the #1 Monday gross in history that didn’t occur in May or June.
Now… I do think that the weekend slog boosted this number. I don’t expect the rest of the weekdays to be quite this enormous.
Tuesday is a day that is a bit more of a Christmas season strong suit, with six of the top twelve Tuesday of all-time coming in December. Four of those are on Christmas Day or the day after. But the December high is $13.6m for National Treasure 2. The biggest single Tuesday is Transformers‘ opening day, with $27.9 million, followed by TDK’s fifth day with $20.9 million.
Wednesday is another thing again, thick with opening days. But The Dark Knight‘s Day 6 is top non-opening Wed with $18.4 million, followed by Twilight: New Moon‘s $14.2m.
And on we go….


Avatar "Actual" Up To $77 million

It’s still $200,000 short of the December record.
As noted yesterday, the estimates yesterday were less reliable than normal because of east coast weather conditions. And indeed, Fox was about $4 million low on its estimates yesterday.
Does it much matter? No.
Would it have kept Brooks “I Know Nothing, Except Avatar Must Die” Barnes from referencing unnameable “analysts” who “expected Avatar to sail past previous December behemoths?” Probably not. He’s finally coughed up the real number (which I have confirmed elsewhere) of $310 million on production, which he says will be reduced to $280 million with tax credits.
Counting all costs and all revenues, that puts the breakeven of worldwide theatrical at between $500m and $600m. The film is almost halfway there in its first 3 days. So apparently, the NYT thinks a 2.5x multiple requires a “supernatural hold on audiences.” I suppose I Am Legend had a superdupernatural hold, as it did more than 3x opening.
Regardless, it seems that Avatar will be past $600m worldwide before the holidays are over and the only “financial calamity for Fox and its financing partners, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners” will be each partner trying to make sure they are paid all of their profits.
Super. Natural.


Avatar Worldwide

So the first 3 days, $159.2m.
$100 million of that is in the top 7 markets…
Russia – $21m
France – $19m
U.K. – $14.2m
Germany – $13.2m
Australia – $11.3m
Spain – $11m
South Korea – $10.8m
The number for the 3-day is Just behind 2012, is at about $575m international and is still adding $s.
Do we think that Avatar has stronger legs than 2012?
Interestingly, the 3D issue in the rest of the world may slow the film less than in the US, where there is a harder push for a higher percentage of playdates to be in 3D.
Cameron is now in Japan to promote their opening on Wednesday. $100 million grosses in Japan alone are viable… $200 million has been done by non-Japanese films only twice.
(btw, Public Enemies is now within 6 million of being Michael Mann’s highest grossing film, worldwide, in history.)


Weekend Estimates by Klady – Avatar Hit (A Little) By Mother Nature

First thing… don’t trust the estimates this week, No one knows. Fri/Sat probably took a hit of a few million. From the NFL coverage this morning, things look better in the east. But will people be running to the grocery store or to shop for Christmas or the movies. I don’t know and no one else does either. This is one of those weekends when treating projected estimates like news – and it’s always an iffy choice when you are looking at records and such that are close – is an epic fail for the media.
It seems that Fox’s position is $73m for the #2 all-time December opening. Klady is being a bit more conservative. Either could be right. Either could be wrong, low or high.
In any case, Avatar is in the range of expectations, neither breaking significantly bigger than expected or lower. And now, the real future of this film will start to shape up, day by day, over the next few weeks.
Disney’s decision to hold The Princess & The Frog has not paid off. The film, which has been well received, is well behind Bolt after its tenth day in wide release. They made some more space for A Christmas Carol. I guess, but they got the worst of both worlds, plucking the bloom off the rose by opening on just 2 screens for 10 days, triggering all the media attention when no one could see the film, then pushing the film wide in one of the weakest possible weeks in the 2-month holiday season followed by Avatar’s opening weekend.
I assume this was not a Rich Ross strategy, because it kinda sucked. And it would be tragic if the failure of distribution strategy here became a finger-pointing at 2D animation exercise.
The Blind Side is a true phenom. You have to go back to 2007 to find a holiday season movie that was at this kind of number in Weekend 5 of wide release. That was Alvin & The Chipmunks… and that film did its fifth weekend in the not-so-competitive mid-January period. In fact, the only November releases in history that I can find with as good or better a fifth weekend are How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Aladdin. Not the Potter or Twilight or Bond franchises.
This is the part where Alcon would like me to tell you that The Blind Side is wholly owned by Alcon and WB is just distributing and marketing the film, much as Iron Man is owned by Marvel and “just” distributed by Paramount and the second round of Star Wars films are owned by George Lucas and “only” distributed by Fox.
Sony is grousing about the snow regarding the Morgans opening. Fair enough… for a million or so. Still not a thriller.
Paramount seems to have been trying an accelerated Slumdog Millionaire release for Up In The Air so far. Slumdog rolled up on December on under 80 screens for 4 weekends before going to 169 screens for $2.2 million and a $12,873 per screen. Up In just went 175 in its third weekend after 2 weekends under 80 screens and did an estimated $3.1 million and a $17,714 per screen.
On Wednesday, the expansion to 1800 screens, which Slumdog didn’t try until nominations. This next week, Paramount is pushing up against Sherlock Holmes and Avatar and Nine and It’s Complicated. So what is Up In The Air‘s niche here? 40-50 year old heterosexual couples with dominant females? There might be $20 million out there for the film in the fives day weekend, assuming Nine pretty much flops. But is that where they want to be? And can they count on Juno-like holds, given that this is not a teen-driven event movie? We’ll see.
Precious‘ box office run is over… at least for now. The number is on the low end of the Tyler Perry scale. And getting to this number was an achievement. I’m sure it’s a bit disappointing for some involved and the failure to reach and exceed the overhyped expectations – which is the standard by which I think Oscar disconnect becomes an issue, not the actual gross – likely leaves the film nominated, but only a high-possibility winner with Mo’Nique.
And unbeknown to me, The Hurt Locker has apparently gone back into some form of release… 129 screens… interesting… too late to be meaningful. In fact, trying and failing to generate some more box office – presumably because Summit has realized that they may well have blown their chance to win Best Picture – may be the last nail in that coffin. Again, perception. The failure to release one of the very best action films of the year as though someone outside an arthouse might want to see it was a mistake that Summit should own up to. “The movie didn’t do $50 million because we may a conservative strategic mistake in a tight market and under-released the film. Sigh…” Then it isn’t on the movie. A failed re-release is like affirming everything that makes Academy members shy about voting for commercial weak sisters for Best Picture.


Friday Estimates by Klady (A1)

It’s the fifth best day ever in December. The only better days were opening day and the first Saturday of LOTR: Return of The King and the opening and Saturday of I Am Legend.
This suggests that Avatar may “only” do $68 million this weekend. Horrors. And will the snow that is shutting down theaters on the east coast be an issue? A marginal one… but a few million in ticket sales in this situation can make a difference in perception.
The next key is today, as Legend went down a tick on Saturday, but Narnia and Rings have a history of going up on Saturday. What will Avatar do? We’ll know when we know.
The Princess & The Frog was clearly hurt by the Avatar opening.
Did You Hear About The Morgans? was a bust waiting to happen. Sony bailed on the premise of the movie about a week ago, pushing from the “War of The Roses softened by being forced together” campaign to a classic rom-com about two fish out of water. Unfortunately, neither star is really an opener on their own. They are both strong names and faces in the right vehicle with the right partner.
Twilight still has some juice and though it won’t catch The Hangover this weekend to become #4 for the year, it probably will be next weekend.
On the awards front, Invictus is in a bit of danger of looking like a weak box office sister in the Oscar race. The issue of box office success, which has also come up around pictures like The Hurt Locker. The difference is that Invictus is a wide release and Hurt never got past 535 screens. The opening of Nine on 4 screens, given the massive push by Weinstein, is fine, but not significant. Expect them to string things out on as few screens as possible to avoid box office danger alarms after taking a scalding in the press this week. As you can see, awards groups are still vulnerable to the craft of the film and the mighty team of actors. Too bad the movie doesn’t come together.
And though neither is considered much of a threat for Best Picture, but legit candidates for acting, Crazy Heart and The Young Victoria came out of the gate soft. Ironically, the box office for Heart is probably going to be found in non-awards areas, like the South, where Searchlight can find the country audience, if they don’t get too wrapped up chasing Jeff Bridges’ Oscar.


The Avatar Number

Fox is saying $3.5 million for the midnights.
Already this is being taken out of perspective completely.
The December record – and keep in mind, this includes the top two grossing films of all time – is a $77.3 million opening.
A $100 million opening in December would be shocking. It would be better than a 30% increase on the former December record. More significant than Spider-Man taking the all-time opening from Potter’s $90.3 to $115m in 2002.
But I don’t think that’s going to happen.
$80m to $85 million is a realistic number. And that will still shatter records.
We’ve already discussed December.
The highest grossing opening of ALL TIME for an original screenplay movie is The Passion of The Christ‘s $83.8 million… and I’m not sure that really counts.
I Am Legend‘s $77.2m is not 100% an original, but I think it was original to the vast majority of people buying tickets that weekend. There weren’t millions clamoring for a rethink on Matheson.
After that, it’s 300, kinda, at $71 million.
For me, after IAL, the next legitimate comparison is Up, which had the Pixar brand as Avatar has the Cameron brand, opening to $68.1 million. Then, Bruce Almighty at $68 million.
As I keep saying, perspective is important here.
If I had to project – and I must… I must – a conservative estimate would be $75m this weekend, $45m M-Th, $45m next weekend, $40m M-Th, and $35 New Year’s weekend for a total of $230m by the end of the holiday with more to come. It could be $50 million higher.
The thing to keep in mind is that the film has under 4000 screens, which is about half the number of screens on which movies like this now tend to open… sometimes even more. It’s not that no seats will ever be empty – this is a myth created by people who live in cities and go to a handful of the busiest screens in the world – but that the opportunity for anytime viewing, showtimes every hour for the next 3 weeks, is not there for this film. More people will wait a bit longer.
My ultimate number, as it was a week ago, is between $400m and $500m domestic and $700m and $800m internationally, meaning between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion worldwide in theatrical. That number is not conservative. But I do think it’s pretty realistic.
Here are your…
The Dark Knight $158,411,483
Spider-Man 3 $151,116,516
The Twilight Saga: New Moon $142,839,137
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest $135,634,554
Shrek the Third $121,629,270
Spider-Man $114,844,116
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $114,732,820
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $108,966,307
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith $108,435,841
Shrek 2 $108,037,878
Titanic $1,842.90
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $1,119.10
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest $1,066.20
The Dark Knight $1,001.90
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone $974.70
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $961.00
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $938.20
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $929.40
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers $925.30
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace $924.30
Notice that only 3 of the Top Ten openers are Top Ten grossers worldwide.
ADD, 2:39p – A reader pointed out that I hadn’t really addresses the $3 – $4 extra per ticket that people pay for 3D.
I had in my head, but that’s no real use to you.
Given at the increase in ticket price is about 25%, it is not insignificant. But as is always the reality, dollars don’t know how they are being spent. Does this mean that someone is going to argue that Avatar is not really the top opener in December of it does less than $95 million? I’m sure. There are people who like to find excuses to be contrarian.
My main point here is that the record is not terribly important. Second, the opening weekend of a December movie does not define the run in the way it does in the summer or other times of the year. Third, did people pay extra to see I Am Legend on IMAX screens… and are we really looking to diagnose every film this way? Fourth, do the budget estimates get a 25% cut to match the increased ticket pricing?
People love crunching numbers to create direct comparisons in situations in which it is simply silly. It almost always seems like an exercise in insulting people’s intelligence by assuming, for instance, that they don’t understand that Gone With The Wind is not in the same box office universe as Spider-Man and the numbers have completely different contexts. Of course, this exacerbated by journalists who deserve such insults to their intelligence and do not do their research.
If you are one who wants to count tickets, be my guest. I see it as a worthless pursuit. No one writes about the number of tickets sold to kids films vs adult films nor do the “tickets sold” people, who are guessing at the numbers based on MPAA estimates of avg ticket price and theatrical grosses. But an animated movie probably sells 20% – 30% more tickets to get to the same gross as an “adult” movie because of reduced ticket prices for kids. Does that make Up 20% or 30% more successful than The Hangover, because no doubt, it sold at least 20% more tickets?
I fine all the nit picking irritating and, again, a waste of time. It’s another excuse by media to own the spigot of “what’s doing good” and “what’s doing bad,” just as the NYT’s false $500m story did, tearing down Avatar, or the overhype of Twilight: New Moon. Pricing is a tool used to get to the largest amount of money possible. Not every film – and not every widget – works under the same pricing guidelines. it is the job of journalists to address the specific clearly and to keep the general in perspective. At least, that’s how I see it.


The Road To Box Office Hell?

1 I Am Legend $77,211,321
2 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $72,629,713
3 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe $65,556,312
4 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers $62,007,528
5 King Kong $50,130,145


Weekend Box Office by Klady – P-Froggy

The estimates for the weekend all seem to have that holiday feeling, every one, from the top frog to #10 more than tripling their Friday estimates.
I don’t know that there is anything much more to speak to that’s new since yesterday…


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon