The Twelve Days of Box Office
Daily Box Office Analysis for December 23, 2010
By David Mumpower
December 24, 2010

Why does everyone keep making fun of my goat-skin chaps?

Today and tomorrow's columns will be abbreviated, because we can be honest about the fact that you and I both have a lot going on the next couple of days. We at BOP hope you get all of the presents you want and that you are blanketed with love for the body of the next 48 hours. We appreciate your taking time out from your busy schedule to read what we have to say about the movies and thank you for your loyal support.

If you want the short version on the Thursday box office, it's this. Little Fockers once again finished in first place and was once again a good but not great performer. I mentioned in yesterday's column that the line of demarcation would be somewhere in the range of $7.3 million for today based on the past behavior of its immediate predecessor, Meet the Fockers. Thursday estimates have it falling just a bit short of that mark with a still respectable $7.1 million. It effectively matched its opening day of box office, which is what we had hoped/expected to happen. As I stated yesterday, box office will be down for EVERYTHING on Friday, because even those of us who are not the least bit religious still have a tendency to spend December 24th filling time in ways that do not involve movies. This is a busy period no matter whether you choose to celebrate the holidays.

The other new release on Wednesday, True Grit, was afforded a better fate than Little Fockers. The western re-make increased a solid 3.8% from Wednesday's $5.5 million to $5.75 million on Thursday. We like to see this sort of growth for the titles in release on Christmas week although in defense of Little Fockers, mid-week openers do not always demonstrate this behavior. Plus, I'm working with estimates today due to time constraints. It's entirely possible that Little Fockers has matched/exceeded Wednesday's debut and the estimate is underselling it.

The film slotted between Wednesday's new releases, Tron: Legacy, saw a solid increase of 8.8% from Wednesday to Thursday. It's Christmas Eve and the last thing you want to hear is a detailed explanation of box office modeling. Suffice to say that this is not quite as good as Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events managed in 2004, as that Jim Carrey comedy (that I love) jumped 16.5% in its seventh day of release. I'm starting to have concerns about the staying power of Disney's shiniest movie this holiday season. A few more days of data will crystal lize these thoughts or alleviate my concerns. Tron: Legacy is at $68.3 million after a week in theaters, which is still quite impressive for a largely unestablished franchise.

Rather than discussing any other specific releases in the top 10, I will instead point out a general trend here. If you look at the chart at the bottom of the column, you will notice the following. All of the titles save for Black Swan see revenue increases from Wednesday. This is the true start of the lucrative box office period. Consumers are starting to have the free time needed to watch all of the movies in release that interest them. The rising tide is now lifting all boats.

The only title experiencing a drop other than Little Fockers is Black Swan. If you are confused by this, don't be. Take a moment to notice Black Swan's venue count. In the box office analysis for Tuesday, that number was 959 venues; for Wednesday and Thursday, the number is 1,456. With the addition of 497 new exhibitions, Black Swan is functionally performing like a new opener. And as we discussed above, those occasionally fall back just a bit on day two. Thus, the box office behavior of the entire top ten is not only explainable but in fact eerily predictable at this time of year.

BOP thanks you for your continued patronage over the years. Now go get some eggnog, find someone cute and stand under the mistletoe with them. Next week, BOP will tell you how to spend your gift cards.