December 18, 2007

Box Office Update 12/14-12/17: I Am Legend Lands at the Top

What can I say other than "Wow!" Who would have thought that the Will Smith starring I Am Legend would have been greeted with such enthusiasm. I guess after last week's disappointment in The Golden Compass helped pave the way for this weekend's success. Of course, Will Smith and an action film will likely always have a wider appeal than a fantasy film. Especially when said fantasy fails to pay off on the wonder and excitement that the trailers promise.

I Am Legend opened to the tune of $77.2 million. This extraordinary take makes it the largest December opening ever, beating out 2003's Return of the King. It is also the fourth biggest opening mark of 2007, and the highest for a non-sequel (the top openings this year belong to Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End). The movie really delivered where no other film has been able to in recent weeks and helps to further cement Will Smith's superstar status. Smith is on his way to tie the record of consecutive $100 million films at seven, he is tied with Tom Hanks at this mark. As for the film? Well, I have not yet written my review, but it was better than I was expecting and was strong throughout until the end. Keep an eye out for my forthcoming review.

The number two movie was Alvin and the Chipmunks, another new release this weekend and another film to outdo its estimates. It opened with a spectacular $44.3 million. It is also the first broad spectrum family film to open since Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium opened on November 16th and proceeded to whither. Alvin is another film I have seen but not yet written a review for. Suffice to say, I was ready to truly dislike the film. I was happy to discover that it was actually pretty good. The effects were good, and the story actually worked. Not to mention the crowd I saw it with was really into it. This will likely benefit from strong word of mouth and keep the families coming out over the next couple of weekends.

At the other end of the spectrum, The Golden Compass opened last week at number one, although it was considerably weaker than was expected and what New Line had hoped for. It's second weekend take is no consolation as it dropped a massive 65% and is on its way to producing a huge loss for the studio. It doesn't help that the movie is less than impressive. If it continues its current track, it will be lucky to reach $70 million, and that is against a budget said to be in the $200 million vicinity.

At the other end of the spectrum, No Country for Old Men continues to impress. It stepped into sixth place this weekend while only dropping 31%. The film should continue to do well as it racks up the critical awards as we steam through Oscar season. Atonement is also impressing, now in its second weekend. It was only showing at 117 theaters and it still managed to crack the top ten, finishing in ninth place with a per theater average north of $15 thousand, second best among the top ten.

Next weekend will see a number of films enter the fray in the final weekend before Christmas. Tom Hanks' will seek success with Charlie Wilson's War, Nicolas Cage seeks more history with National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Gerard Butler puts down his sword in favor of romance with Hilary Swank in PS I Love You, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp reunite with the Golden Globe nominated Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and John C. Reilly stars in the biopic parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Plus, the art house circuit will see expansions with Atonement, Juno, and The Kite Runner hitting more screens.

Three movies dropped off the top ten this week: Beowulf (12), Awake (13), and Hitman (8).

This WeekLast WeekTitleWknd GrossOverallWeek in release
1NI Am Legend$77,211,321$77,211,3211
2NAlvin and the Chipmunks$44,307,417$44,307,4171
31The Golden Compass$8,825,549$40,768,6612
56No Country for Old Men$2,827,530$33,390,0036
6NThe Perfect Holiday$2,283,360$2,930,1881
73This Christmas$2,260,812$46,004,2924
84Fred Claus$2,221,438$68,880,7226
107August Rush$1,765,319$28,045,1104

Box Office Predictions Recap
Placements were pretty good, box office guesses were not so. The top three were pretty easy to guess, the rest were just lucky guesses. What really surprised me was just how low I was on predicting I Am Legend and Chipmunks. Who would have guessed the two would be quite as popular as they are? I mean, I knew they would likely open well, just not this well. Was everyone so starved for a movie that they all chose this week to go out to them? Whatever the case may be, it will be interesting to see how it translates into the final weekends of 2007.

Anyway, here is how I picked the field:

ActualPredictionTitleWknd GrossPrediction
11I Am Legend$77,211,321$44 million
22Alvin and the Chipmunks$44,307,417$19 million
33The Golden Compass$8,825,549$15 million
64The Perfect Holiday$2,283,360$13.5 million


$5,533,884$5.5 million
56No Country for Old Men$2,827,530$3.5 million
77This Christmas$2,260,812$3 million
88Fred Claus$2,221,438$3 million
129Beowulf$1,380,513$2.5 million
1010August Rush$1,765,319$2 million


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