Daily Box Office Analysis for December 10, 2007
By David Mumpower
December 11, 2007

I'm feeling singled out.

Box office for Monday, December 10th, is not considered one of the Twelve Days of box office. That period generally considered to start around December 21st. We have never studied what happens in the period before the most glorious time of the year for movie exhibitors and distributors. So, we are going to throw that in over the next ten days while we await the golden days of box office that will hopefully save the last quarter of the year from disaster. Seriously, the last three months of receipts have placed us on the fast track to box office oblivion. With [tm:3002_]I Am Legend[/tm] and [tm:2736_]National Treasure: Book of Secrets[/tm] in queue and a dozen other respectable to strong titles joining them, there is much cause for optimism for the rest of the month. This week, not so much...

The number one film for Monday is The Golden Compass, a title whose production budget is as *little* as $180 million, but whose negative cost may exceed $250 million, depending on which studio suit you trust (and this is a trick question, the correct answer being to never trust any of them). Given weekend box office of $25.8 million, this one is already on life support. Solid daily numbers could make it respectable enough to limp along to $100 million, but I want to be honest going in here. The Golden Compass has already absorbed a death blow. We're just playing out the string from here on out.

This particular string is Monday box office of an estimated $1.7 million. New Line as a studio rarely reports exact box office numbers, so we won't have the precise numbers for it that the rest of the top ten will possess. What we do know is that this gives the movie a running total of $27.483 million. For those of you paying attention to BOP's other analytical discussions, yes, this does mean that a film the studio expected to earn at least $30 million over opening weekend is unlikely to get there until after six days of box office. The word we are looking for here is "Oof".

We don't want to let the previous failure of The Golden Compass blur our vision in seeing weekday box office for Monday as well as the rest of the month. Despite the weekend horror, this could still be a great weekday start, right? Unfortunately, it is not. Those of you who have read prior daily box office analysis at BOP know that our staff firmly believes in learning from historical research and precedents. Taking a look back at 2006's second Monday in December should be instructive in showing how well The Golden Compass has held up.

Apocalypto, another disappointing December title, opened to only $15.0 million in its first weekend. This total represents only 58% of what the much bigger budgeted The Golden Compass managed. So, its Monday performance should be 58% of the [bp:173_]Nicole Kidman[/bp]/[bp:3280_]Daniel Craig[/bp] title's first Monday, give or take a tad bit of wiggle room. It's not. Apocalypto earned $1.51 million on its first weekday, a total that almost matched what the Philip Pullman adaptation managed. So, Apocalypto earned 58% of The Golden Compass' weekend total, but it spiked up to 8[tm:2838_]9[/tm]% in terms of Monday performance.

In point of fact, the $1.7 million for The Golden Compass is less than what Daniel Craig's last major December release, Casino Royale, earned in its second Monday in release. This is particularly troubling given that the latest Bond flick's second Monday occurred immediately after Thanksgiving, making it the centrifugal point of the moment box office dies for four days. Anything in release the week after Thanksgiving is going to get destroyed since people had all the free time they wanted to see a movie the prior week. If they wouldn't go see one during a five-day holiday period, they certainly aren't going to see one during the following Monday-Thursday period.

In terms of percentage holdovers, Apocalypto fell 65.5% from its first Sunday of $4.37 million to its first Monday of $1.51 million. Casino Royale fell 71.9% from its holiday-inflated second Sunday of $6.16 million to its second Monday of $1.73 million. Apocalypto's first Monday represents 10.1% of its weekend total. Casino Royale's post-holiday deflated Monday represents 5.6% of its holiday-inflated total. Those are the two logical extremes for comparison to The Golden Compass. Its total of $1.7 million on Monday is a decline of 75.1% from the Sunday tally of $6.823 million. The $1.7 million reflects 6.6% of its weekend box office. That puts it much closer to Casino Royale, which had outlying factors both ways to artificially deflate its result, than to Apocalypto, a film with which it should compare quite similarly. Given this knowledge, what has just happened to The Golden Compass is a dreadful result. This would be body blow number two. People simply do not want to see this movie.

With regards to the top ten as a whole, the news is much better. Last Monday, December 3rd, saw combined top ten box office of $4,327,743. The top ten was anchored by [tm:2658_]Enchanted[/tm], which earned a steady $779,510. With a much stronger first place entrant in terms of actual box office (Enchanted is obviously the much bigger movie overall, just not in the isolated comparison of Monday box office), yesterday's top ten winds up with $4,836,939. This is an increase of 11.8%, but keep in mind that what I just said about Casino Royale is applicable here as well. Last Monday's films were dealing with the post-Thanksgiving box office lull, a scenario that becomes less of a factor with each passing week in December. As such, this total may be better in terms of simple mathematics, but the underlying mechanics of it are not good. There are only two movies making as much as $500,000 right now, and only four are making $400,000. Even during the post-Thanksgiving lull last Monday, there were still five titles earning at least $400,000. The point of this is that the next three days are going to be yet another brutal period for box office in the Fall of 2007. I Am Legend desperately needs to be huge to get the industry out of its slump.