December 30, 2008

Box Office Udate 12/26-12/28: Marley & Me Charm the Holiday

We are in the home stretch of 2008. The final weekend of the year showed some signs of life as the top four films topped the $20 million mark. Frankly, I find myself rather surprised by the surprising potency of the weekend, although I guess I shouldn't be. There is a nice blend of arthouse and mainstream gracing the cineplex and there are worthwhile films on both sides of the coin.

The top film for the weekend (and for Christmas day itself) is none other than that tale of puppy love Marley & Me. Based on the novel of the same name it is the story of a married couple finding a connection through a very bad dog. Well, not necessarily bad, but definitely destructive. Marley is a yellow lab with a very chewy streak causing no shortage distress in the couples life. The couple is played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. The movie may be a bit emotionally manipulative, but there is no denying its effectiveness. It is funny, it is sad, and it will leave you with a strained smile on your face.

Coming in a safe distance behind in second place is the new Adam Sandler comedy. He leaves the PG-13 realm of Zohan behind in favor of the family friendly confines of Bedtime Stories. In this movie Sandler tells his niece and nephew stories that inexplicable become reality, which he attempts to take advantage of. I have not yet seen the movie, but it looks like it could provide some moderate entertainment value.

The third and fourth slots are filled by a couple of more new releases. First up is the latest David Fincher film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This long film is a cinematic treat that features both a fascinating central character and some great special effects. It is a movie that moves at a leisurely pace (read: slow) that slowly wraps itself around the viewer. No, not the best film, but it is one to be experienced.

Rounding out the freshman four is Tom Cruise's WWII film Valkyrie. It is a movie with a storied release schedule that finally found a home on Christmas and has turned out to be surprisingly popular. Whether or not it lasts is yet to be seen. Cruise stars as a German soldier who leads a plot to assassinate Hitler at the height of his power. It is obvious that the plot did not work, but it does seem like an intriguing story. The big question is how well does Cruise pull it off? I do now know. Yet.

Slip down the list to ninth and you will find Frank Miller's directorial debut, The Spirit. It is a comic adaptation that opened to savage critical notice. I found the film to be rather intriguing, not nearly as bad as critics would lead you to believe, but not nearly as good as I would have liked. It is worth checking out, just remember that it is no Sin City.

The rest of the returning films had very strong holds across the board. There is nary a loser in the bunch. Will it hold up next week when no new movies enter wide release? I would have a hard time believing it, but you never know.

Six movies dropped off the top ten this week: Four Christmases (11), Twilight (12), Slumdog Millionaire (13), Bolt (14), Quantum of Solace (17), and Australia (19).

This WeekLast WeekTitleWknd GrossOverallWeek in release
1NMarley & Me$36,357,586$50,738,5661
2NBedtime Stories$27,450,296$38,029,1131
3NThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button$26,853,816$38,725,6471
51Yes Man$16,657,046$49,798,5602
62Seven Pounds$13,203,236$38,762,6472
73The Tale of Despereaux$8,932,625$27,448,0852
84The Day the Earth Stood Still$7,697,799$63,480,1843
9NThe Spirit$6,463,278$10,305,5011

Box Office Predictions Recap
Well I'll be. This final weekend of 2008 turned out to be much livelier than I was expecting. You can tell by my generally well below actual guesstimates that I put forth. Not to say I am not happy for it, it actually turned out to be a pretty good weekend to go to the movies, what with families getting together and the actual presence of worthwhile cinema. It will be interesting to see if this little spurt of life carries over into the new year.

Here is how the field matched up:

ActualPredictionTitleWknd GrossPrediction
21Bedtime Stories$27,450,296$28 million
12Marley & Me$36,357,586$21 million


3The Curious Case of Benjamin Button$26,853,816$18 million
44Valkyrie$21,027,007$14.5 million
95The Spirit$6,463,278$11 million
56Yes Man$16,657,046$9 million
67Seven Pounds$13,203,236$7 million
78The Tale of Despereaux$8,932,625$6 million
109Doubt$5,339,742$3 million
810The Day the Earth Stood Still$7,697,799$3 million


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