Friday Box Office Analysis
By Tim Briody
December 22, 2007

We're not saying a word about Mr. Cage's Freudian fantasies.

Five wide releases hit theaters the weekend before Christmas, but the one that got coal in its stocking isn't the one you might think.

[tm:2736_]National Treasure: Book of Secrets[/tm]

The action/adventure sequel picks up pretty much where the first one left off, earning a very decent $17.2 million on Friday. The first one opened with $11 million the weekend before Thanksgiving three years ago, so we can't compare the two numbers directly, but it's still quite good. National Treasure scored a 3.2 Friday-to-Sunday multiplier on its opening weekend and with Christmas Eve falling on a Monday, I see no reason why that won't be duplicated this weekend, with the chance for more. That's a $55 million weekend of Book of Secrets, and it will be a tight race with [tm:3002_]I Am Legend[/tm] for biggest movie of the month.

[tm:3545_]Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street[/tm]

After National Treasure 2 and I Am Legend, things fall off quite a bit with the openers. [bp:14[tm:2838_]9[/tm]5_]Tim Burton[/bp]'s adaptation of the Sondheim musical took in $3.8 million on Friday, in a mere 1,249 screens (less than a third of Book of Secrets). A recurring theme about today's column will be that Christmas box office isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. Openings are somewhat deflated (unless you're I Am Legend or National Treasure, of course) in exchange for solid returns in the days between Christmas and New Year's. Despite [bp:84_]Johnny Depp[/bp] and Tim Burton, something like this is about as tough a sell as you can get, and the fact that it's second among the five openers is pretty impressive. Figure about $12.5 million over the weekend, and a good holiday run.

[tm:1457_]Charlie Wilson's War[/tm]

[bp:3277_]Tom Hanks[/bp] and [bp:167_]Julia Roberts[/bp] together in a film would have been a mega-blockbuster five years ago. Instead, Charlie Wilson's War, clinging to hopes that it's an end-of-the-year awards contender, opens to $2.8 million on Friday. Written by BOP fave Aaron Sorkin, an opening frame of $9 million just goes to prove that moviegoers really aren't all that fascinated by politics. It's going to have to show some solid word-of-mouth to really cash in over the next ten days and build some badly needed awards momentum.

[tm:1941_]P.S. I Love You[/tm]

The heavily panned and ridiculed chick flick P.S. I Love You checks in with $2.4 million on Friday, perhaps exceeding expectations ever so slightly. Our heart goes out to anyone who suffered through this, but take solace in knowing you totally scored some major points, dude. I expect a weekend total of about $8 million.

Walk Hard: The Legend of Dewey Cox

Uh-oh. Walk Hard: The Legend of Dewey Cox is actually the weakest of Friday's new releases, coming in with only $1.5 million on Friday. While we can't stress enough the fact that a high tide rises all boats, this isn't a very good start at all, especially considering the glut of advertising and the roll that Judd Apatow was on. Walk Hard should come in with about $4.7 million for the weekend.

I Am Legend

After setting the record for a December opening, I Am Legend falls pretty hard, off 63% from last Friday with $11.2 million, letting National Treasure pass it with ease. The drop off was a bit larger than expected, if we really knew what to expect coming off such a huge opening. I Am Legend will also vastly improve on the 2.56 multiplier it came in with over the opening weekend, bringing it to a $37 million second weekend.