The big news story in the box office world since last Tuesday has been Hancock. The Will Smith release battled with studio execs over content, struggled to get the desired rating from the MPAA and overestimated its weekend total by a mind-boggling $3.4 million. In short, this production has been a lot more adventurous, even treacherous, than your average Will Smith outing. A five and a quarter day total of $103,877,446 was a solid result, all things considered. Where the movie goes from here is going to be a fascinating study as well.
Daily Box Office Analysis for July 7, 2008
By David Mumpower
July 8, 2008
Hancock's reviews and word-of-mouth have been all over the place. Only 35% of critics at Rotten Tomatoes liked the movie well enough to recommend it. Even if we isolate this evaluation to only top tier critics at the site, the results are similar at 36%. Opinions from casual fans have run the gamut with some people such as my wife feeling that Will Smith and Charlize Theron offer stellar performances. Others such as those stated in BOP reviews by Matthew Huntley and Scott Lumley range from disappointed to pure, unadulterated loathing. Myself, I fall in the same category as Mr. Huntley. Hancock is moderately entertaining, but it seems to be a less than optimal result relative to the talent involved on the project as well as the sublime story idea. Also, I expect this to be the consensus opinion, meaning that Hancock's legs should be lackluster. Is this how Monday box office played out? Sort of.
Hancock's official weekend total is $62,603,879, almost identical to WALL-E's $63,087,526 the previous frame. So, we have two films of similar scale whose Monday numbers are comparable. Before you start slamming your keyboard and getting ready to type a malicious email to me indicating an inappropriate relationship with family members, keep in mind two things. The first is that I was born and raised in East Tennessee, so I'm plenty used to such accusations. The other is that these titles have more in common in this one instance than you may think.
WALL-E is always going to play better on weekdays, but its Saturday/Sunday total on opening weekend was $39,923,418. Hancock's first Saturday/Sunday saw combined receipts of $44,075,912. While the titles have similar weekend totals, Hancock experienced the scenario I forecasted in a column last week. Its Friday total was artificially deflated due to the July 4th anti-holiday box office phenomenon. For this reason, its weekend number is smaller in scale than the movie actually should have been. Hancock plays bigger, as it were. On paper, the Will Smith film might have had an ever-so-slightly smaller total than WALL-E but in reality, it's a title with more initial demand that was damaged by a rare calendar configuration.
Given that the titles are similar but Hancock has more demand, WALL-E's playing bigger on weekdays is counterbalanced. A film that is 10% more popular on Saturday and Sunday compares well to one that will get a boost from children's ticket sales on summer weekdays. Now that we've established that the two releases are of equal scale, the numbers will paint a picture. WALL-E fell from $17,807,221 on its first Sunday to $8,913,286 on its first Monday. This is a drop of just under 50.0%, and its total represents 22.3% of its initial Saturday/Sunday revenue. Hancock earned $18,294,508 on Sunday then fell 53.8% to $8,481,615 on Monday. Yesterday's earnings are roughly 19.2% of its weekend total. In evaluating Hancock relative to WALL-E, it had less overall box office yesterday, a steeper depreciation and a smaller percentage of Saturday/Sunday holdover.
The good news is that the outcome is not a blowout. Hancock's first Monday is at least competitive with WALL-E's initial weekday. Whether this remains true the rest of the week is a to be determined, but I doubt it. We have seen three straight weeks of movies perform unexpectedly well on Monday only to fall back to expected parameters afterward. I have a feeling the same will be true of Hancock.
Overall box office for the top ten was down from last week's $24,576,510. Yesterday's total of $21,024,436 is a 14.5% drop from last week. Even so, this is one of the best Mondays of the summer to date.