December 26, 2007

Box Office Update 12/21-12/23: National Treasure: Book of Secrets Leads a Large Freshman Class

This final weekend leading into Christmas featured a wholesale swap of the top ten, with six titles entering the upper echelon. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend for movie going with the top three films combining for a total tally well north of $100 million. It also saw good openings for a number of newly released films and a strong expansion of another. I know I did my part going out and seeing as many of these films as I could.

Leading the box office charge is the sequel to the 2004 hit National Treasure. National Treasure: Book of Secrets brought Nicolas Cage the best opening of his career, narrowly besting Ghost Rider from earlier this year (based on studio estimates). The movie is a fun adventure, nothing great by any stretch. What it provides is a fun adventure suitable for the whole family, and those are few and far between these days. Silly as the plot may be, it does exactly what it sets out to accomplish. Based on its reception, it would appear to be a shoe-in to cross the $100 million mark and head towards besting, or at least matching, the $173 million take of the original.

Following that are last week's top two bread winners. Will Smith's I Am Legend slipped a respectable 55% from last week, which was to be expected based on its monstrous opening. It further solidifies Will Smith as one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood as he matches Tom Hanks record of seven $100 million films in a row, a record that could be broken when Hancock opens in July. Right behind that is Alvin and the Chipmunks, the surprise hit from last weekend. It fell less than 40% from its opening mark. I saw the film and it was surprisingly good, not great but definitely watchable.

Next up are three new releases in a row. First, in fourth, is Charlie Wilson's War, the Tom Hanks political comedy. Next is Tim Burton's spectacular screen telling of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Rounding out the trilogy is PS I Love You, Gerard's Butler first film since 300 put him on the map.

There was one other new release to enter the top ten, although it is already being branded a flop. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story opened in 8th place with an estimated $4.1 million. It deserves to do better than that. It is a very funny take on the music biopic genre that has been Oscar bait over the past few years. John C. Reilly delivers one of the best performances of his career in the Jake Kasdan directed, Judd Apatow written film.

Finally, there was one other new entry to the top ten. Juno, in its third week of release, reached the tenth position as it continues its roll out to wide release. It is a smart, witty, insightful comedy from first time screenwriter Diablo Cody and only the second feature from director Jason Reitman. It really is excellent work and should do well as its reach increases. Think of it as the 2007 version of Little Miss Sunshine.

Among the returning films Enchanted continues to do very well. It is now on the cusp of crossing the $100 million mark. Disney has to be very happy with how well it has performed. They should also be happy with the high quality of the film.

This week's top films will not have to wait long for new competition as the next batch of films will be opening on Christmas Day. This new competition includes Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, The Great Debaters, and Waterhorse: Legend of the Deep.

Six movies dropped off the top ten this week: Atonement (11), No Country for Old Men (12), The Perfect Holiday (14), This Christmas (15), Fred Claus (16), and August Rush (17).

At the time of this writing final figures were not available, the figures used are the studio estimates.
This WeekLast WeekTitleWknd GrossOverallWeek in release
1NNational Treasure: Book of Secrets$45,500,000$45,500,0001
21I Am Legend$34,225,000$137,490,0002
32Alvin and the Chipmunks$29,000,000$84,867,0002
4NCharlie Wilson's War$9,618,000$9,618,0001
5NSweeney Todd$9,350,000$9,350,0001
6NPS I Love You$6,505,000$6,505,0001
8NWalk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story$4,100,000$4,100,0001
93The Golden Compass$3,980,000$48,418,0003

Box Office Predictions Recap
I was doing Okay until I reached fourth, then everything began to fall apart. It began with my overestimation of Walk Hard, for some reason I thought that was going to be sure to open stronger, much stronger, than it did. That was my biggest misstep. If I had dropped that down a bit and moved up the films behind it I would have been in pretty good shape. I didn't, so I'm not. Most of my gross predictions were pretty off as well. The one I am proud of is getting Juno's gross pretty close, even if I overestimated where it would place.

Anyway, here is how I picked the field:

ActualPredictionTitleWknd GrossPrediction
11National Treasure: Book of Secrets$45,500,000$46 million
22I Am Legend$34,225,000$37 million
33Alvin and the Chipmunks$29,000,000$22 million
84Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story$4,100,000$18 million

Charlie Wilson's War

$9,618,000$16 million
56Sweeney Todd$9,350,000$15 million
67PS I Love You$6,505,000$9 million
108Juno$3,400,000$3.5 million
79Enchanted$4,152,000$3 million
910The Golden Compass$3,980,000$2.5 million


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