The Twelve Days of Box Office Day Six
By David Mumpower
December 27, 2013

Poor Brick is wearing the cone of shame.

Remember that Madonna song with the lyrics, “Holiday, celebrate”? A lot of folks in Hollywood are not singing that tune today. Box office for the day after Christmas is in and, if anything, the news is if anything gloomier for most December 25th releases.

Before we kick some films while they’re down, let’s start with yesterday’s top three, all of which were in release prior to Christmas. And that says everything, really. First place once again went to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The latest Peter Jackson indulgence grossed $10.5 million on Thursday, an increase of 13% from Christmas Day’s $9.3 million.

How strong has The Hobbit performed this week? During the Monday-to-Thursday period of its first week of release, the fifth Tolkien adaptation attained $22.4 million. From December 23rd - 26th, it earned $32.9 million. That’s a week-to-week increase of 47% for a movie that has nowhere near the demand of prior titles from the franchise.

Frozen continues to bounce around the top ten this week, soaring from seventh place on Christmas Day to second place yesterday. In the interim, its box office increased 44% from $6.3 million to $9.1 million. Perhaps no film in the top ten better demonstrates the importance of holiday box office inflation. Last week, Frozen grossed $7.6 million from Monday-to-Thursday. Yes, it earned $1.5 million more yesterday than during all four weekdays the week before Christmas.

Frozen has gained $27.4 million so far this week, an increase of just under $20 million from last week. Its box office is up by a factor of 3.6 thanks to the magic of holiday inflation. The impeccable quality of Frozen has made it the people’s choice among Thanksgiving holdovers. It has earned $219.5 million already, and the next 10 days of box office will be glorious.

Anchorman 2: The Legend of Ron Burgundy finishes its ninth day in theaters in third place. Unlike the top two films, Ron Burgundy’s latest adventure declined from Wednesday to Thursday. This is true of every other film in the top 10 except for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In the case of Anchorman 2, the drop was 9% to $7.4 million. With $64.1 million already in the bank, the sequel should surpass the original’s $84.1 million domestic take by Sunday, Monday at the latest. Whether you believe that is a solid performance is up to you. I maintain that as weird as this movie is, earning $100 million in North America is a fairly impressive accomplishment, popular brand or not.

We can safely discuss the next two films before we reach the time when everyone should hide the women and children. Dissimilar yet frequently linked titles The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle rounded out the top five on Thursday. The Scorsese film fell 27% from Christmas, grossing $6.6 million. Do not read anything into that. As I stated yesterday, Christmas Day releases almost always decline the following day. The only question is how much.

American Hustle earned a similar amount with $6.4 million, falling roughly half as much from Wednesday at 14%. Thus far, the Christian Bale/Jennifer Lawrence movie stands at $40.5 million while The Wolf of Wall Street is at $15.8 million. American Hustle has already matched its $40 million budget. Alas, Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie is no Gatsby, at least not thus far.

The second best of the Christmas Day releases is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and that is sad. No, Mitty is not a bomb by any stretch of the imagination. $4.8 million on Thursday means that it did drop 39% from Christmas Day, though. That is not a good sign for a movie intended to be leggy. Since we are only talking about one day, however, Walter Mitty may very well recover. With $12.6 million after two days, that $90 million budget feels out of reach domestically. We will track it further over the next week.

The other feel good movie of the holiday season, Saving Mr. Banks, held very well yesterday. Another $4.7 million in the coffers represents a daily decline of only 9%. Thanks to the power of holiday inflation, its best two days of release are its two more recent days. That is a good sign for a movie with $23.8 million in the bank thus far.

Okay, if you are involved with the production of a Christmas Day release that has not been mentioned yet, this is probably a good time to stop reading. Seriously, go with my blessing. I will understand. If, on the other hand, you are someone who relishes Schadenfreude, the world is your oyster.

47 Ronin finished in eighth place yesterday with a paltry $3.7 million. We are discussing a 48% drop for a film that has grossed only $10.7 million after two days. Using the 47 Ronin budget calculation yesterday of $3.7 million per Ronin, Universal could only spring for three thus far. And they would need a small loan for that third Ronin since they are currently $400 thousand short. How lousy is this performance? Universal Studios has already acknowledged that they are taking a write down on the project because its financial failure is a certainty.

Rounding out the top ten are the only other gainer yesterday, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and a soon dead property, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas. Catching Fire increased 20% to $3 million, giving it a domestic total of $380.9 million. In the process, it became one of the 20 most successful domestic releases all time, passing Finding Nemo and Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith. The news is less positive for Madea. The world’s favorite fat-suit transvestite fell 25% to $2.2 million. With only $36.9 million in the bank, Madea appears to be as old and tired as the character acts onscreen.

With the top ten fully discussed, the obvious question is what happened to Grudge Match. The answer is that it fell 46% yesterday, acquiring only $2.2 million in box office. Stating the obvious, Grudge Match is no The Grudge (Google it if you’re already forgotten).

Of course, the news could be worse, believe it or not. About ten days ago, a staff member of BOP asked me for my thoughts about the top 12 for Christmas week. At the time, I noted that they had forgotten Justin Bieber’s new movie, Believe. As I pointed out, even if the follow-up to Never Say Never earned only a third of the prior film, a reasonable expectation for a saturated brand, it should still earn around $10 million over its first few days. Well…

Believe performed so poorly yesterday that I honestly forgot to mention it yesterday. I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened to me after 15 years of box office analysis yet that is what transpired. Why? Believe bombed in staggering fashion. It has grossed $2.25 million in two days, $1 million of it coming yesterday. In other words, it opened horribly then promptly fell 19%. The first Bieber film grossed $73 million. This one is not certain to reach $10 million. If I knew any Bieber songs, I would use one to sarcastically taunt this performance. Fortunately, my mind is still pure. I have successfully ignored Bieber Fever and the rest of the world is starting to catch up to my way of thinking.