Daily Box Office for December 17, 2007
By David Mumpower
December 18, 2007

Cutest child ever.

Clearing up any confusion entering today's discussion, we have not entered the "12 Days of Box Office" period we chronicle each year at Box Office Prophets. The time frame for that is considered to be the days from December 21st to January 1st, the week of Christmas until the start of the New Year. This is a guideline rather than a hard rule due to the fact that the entire discussion is dependent upon calendar configuration. The 2007 campaign will be particularly tricky to evaluate since the week before Christmas is not a holiday of any sort for most people.

With Christmas Eve on a Monday, all of next week is the gravy train for movies in release. The only weekdays that may get a bump are Wednesday and Thursday. The 2001 calendar will be our comparison for 2007, as it was the last year to have the four major holidays in this time frame to occur on Monday and Tuesday. What we know from this model is that Monday the 17th behaved as expected with the normal Sunday-to-Monday drops in the 60-75% range. Tuesday also showed relatively ordinary behavior as all of the titles in the top ten experienced increases between 1% and 19.8%. Similarly, Wednesday exhibited normal weekday tendencies with near-universal declines from Tuesday. The only day that offered a hint of things to come was on Thursday the 20th, wherein only three of the top ten titles experienced declines. Out of the seven movies that experienced Wednesday/Thursday growth, three grew by more than 40%. So, any discussions of weekday box office over the next three days will anticipate ordinary behavior until Friday's column. Next week's discussions will be the ones that exemplify the tremendous upswing in box office over the holiday period. This week's will be, well, primarily focused on only two titles.

There was a new opener this past weekend. Maybe you heard about it. While everyone and their grandmother was at I Am Legend from Friday to Sunday, there was no guarantee that its record-shattering three-day performance's momentum would carry over to its first Monday. The problem here is that we don't have a point of reference to determine if it did or not. The only other title to ever open north of $70 million in the history of December box office was The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. That title's first weekday was its opening day, December 17th. Obviously, the fanboy rush negates the value of such a comparison there. Its next day was a Thursday, and it was still operating in differing fashion from a normal weekday. This would normally bring us to its first Monday, but that was on Monday, December 21st. See above if you have forgotten why this creates a problem.

Given that we cannot compare I Am Legend to the only movie like it in December box office history, it becomes an entity unto itself. All I can do at the moment is report rather than analyze and evaluate. In this instance, the relevant data is that I Am Legend earned $7,465,450 on its first Monday. That certainly smokes the $1.7 million The Golden Compass limped into earning in its first Monday. Then again, we may say the same thing about the $2,641,866 Alvin and the Chipmunks earned, so all we are doing with this evaluation is again kicking The Golden Compass while it's down. Given that New Line spent today kissing and making up with Peter Jackson in order to line up a pair of The Hobbit sequels, all that needs to be said about the box office failure of The Golden Compass has been done by its own distributor. What we want to determine is the performance of I Am Legend (and Alvin and the Chipmunks), but I am afraid that evaluation won't be forthcoming for another week. That won't stop us from trying over the next few days, though.

The top ten for Monday earned $12,843,822. This sounds great until we realize that I Am Legend comprises over 58% of that number. If we include Alvin and the Chipmunks, the number increases to almost 79%. That's the cynical perspective, though. The optimist's point of view would be that we are up over $8 million from last Monday's top ten of $4,836,939. After countless weeks of box office disappointments, we finally have some releases that matter in the greater scheme. This is so much better than finding anything insightful to say about Good Luck, Chuck.