November 21, 2006

Box Office Update 11/17-11/19: Happy Feet Dances by Bond

The battle for the top spot went right down to the wire. A troupe of tapdancing penguins waged a battle for box office supremacy with the reinvigorated James Bond franchise. Happy Feet narrowly beat out Casino Royale to reign supreme in this pre-holiday frame. The spread between the two films was a mere $700,000. Sure, sounds like a lot, but when the totals are north of $40 million, it seems much smaller.

I have seen both of these debuting films. Happy Feet turned out to be better than I was expecting. It had a good story, it will plaster a smile on your face, and it has an original look in a year overstuffed with lackluster CG films. It is a definite crowd pleaser, and judging by the reaction of those in attendance, this will do quite well over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Bringing in a different audience, Casino Royale marks a new era for James Bond. Daniel Craig proved to be more than up to the task delivering a dark and complex iteration, and possibly the best since Sean Connery asked for a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. The stunts were big, the suspense palpable, and the campiness that had been taking over the series diminished. This is one of the smartest and well executed actioners of the year.

There was one other new entry to the top ten, an entry that will only have one shot at the chart. After Dark's Horror Fest: 8 Films to Die For took a bow at 488 locations around the country. I was curious as to how this was going to be counted, it falls under the banner of the festival, but it comprised 9 horror films together. I guess they decided to lump the takes of all of them as a single film, a fact which helped boost it into the shallow end of the top ten pool. Hopefully, it will get some sort of DVD release. I like horror films, but was unable to make it to see them.

The rest of the field were pretty consistent in their drops, all in the vicinity of 50%. The drops were slightly magnified as last weekend included the Veteran's Day holiday, where many schools had Friday off. Among those returning films were a couple of close battles, including Flushed Away and Stranger Than Fiction, and Saw III and Babel. Those two pairs could have just as easily gone in the opposite direction.

Three films dropped from the list this week: The Prestige (13), The Return (14), and A Good Year (15).

This Week

Last WeekTitleWknd GrossOverallWeek in release
1NHappy Feet$41,533,432$41,533,4321

Casino Royale

42The Santa Clause: The Escape Clause$8,302,661$51,704,1193
54Stranger Than Fiction$6,605,197$22,905,3442

Flushed Away

75Saw III$2,916,062$74,968,3534
97The Departed$2,585,402$113,841,4307
10NAfter Dark's Horror Fest: 8 Films to Die For$2,310,680$2,310,6801

Box Office Predictions Recap
Holy underestimation, Batman! I did well in positioning this week's ofinishers, but when ti came to the grosses of the top pair, I was off, off by a lot. I didn't figure to see any of the big numbers until the holiday weekend hit. I guess everyone wanted to get a head start. I knew I was in for some trouble based on my own anecdotal evidence. As I chatted with my friends, who work at the local cineplex, they had huge lines for both the penguins and for Bond, to where they were selling out shows, something I did not expect. Rather, not to this level.

I will console myself with getting the top four right, and less than $10,000 from having the top six. The last four sort of fall apart, but I can live with it. I knew that Let's Go to Prison wasn't going to make a splash, especially when I had a private showing. I was surprised at the strength of the Horror Fest, and glad for it.


PredictionTitleWknd GrossPrediction
11Happy Feet$41,533,432$27 million
22Casino Royale$40,833,156$21 million
33Borat$14,602,874$17 million
44Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause$8,302,661$12 million

Flushed Away


$10 million

56Stranger than Fiction$6,605,197$9 million
87Babel$2,904,642$4 million
98The Departed$2,585,402$3.75 million
139The Prestige$1,949,969$3.5 million
710Saw III$2,916,062$3 million


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