As usual, Christmas Eve was dead at the box office and Christmas Day was extremely busy. With Christmas landing on Saturday this year, the box office took another hit adding to the woes of not having a Lord of the Rings film in the mix. Could Meet the Fockers and Fat Albert make up the difference? Not likely.
Fockers Manhandle Christmas at the Box Office
Box Office Prophets: Box Office Report for December 24-26, 2004
By John Hamann
December 26, 2004
The number one film at the box office this weekend is Meet the Fockers. After a slow Christmas Eve and a busy Christmas Day, Fockers ended the weekend with a three-day total of $44.7 million from 3,518 venues. It had a monstrous venue average of $12,700. The comedy, which stars Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, cost $80 million to make and has a five-day haul of $68.5 million since opening on Wednesday.
Hanging on to second spot (at least until actuals are released tomorrow) is Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Jim Carrey vehicle pulled in an extremely disappointing $12.5 million, down a stunning 58% compared to last weekend. With Christmas Eve landing on a Friday, box office was hurt badly, as numbers are extremely low on the day before Christmas. Large drops are expected, but this is nasty. The $140 million film has now grossed $59.3 million after ten days of release.
Finishing third this weekend is 20th Century Fox’s Fat Albert, which got off to a so-so start. The film, based on the TV cartoon of the same name, grossed $12.4 million from 2,674 venues and had an average of $4,646. Because of Christmas Eve, one might think films like Fat Albert would hold well next weekend, but because Friday is New Year’s Eve, box office could take another hit. The best news for these films is that the stretch of days between Christmas and New Year’s are extremely lucrative at the box office, so they don’t need to sweat things too much based on weekend numbers. Still, Fox had to be looking for more from this probable franchise.
Fourth spot this weekend goes to Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator, which leapt from arthouse release on just a couple of screens to 1,794 venues over the Christmas weekend. The Aviator failed to crack the $10 million mark, grossing $9.7 million. It had a venue average of $5,242. The film with a whole bunch of Oscar potential has now grossed $10.8 million, and could play for many, many weeks to come.
Fifth goes to Ocean’s Twelve with $8.6 million. The WB flick had a better hold than Lemony Snicket, but still dropped 52% compared to last weekend. The caper flick, with its $110 million budget, has now grossed $86.7 million.
Darkness, the new horror/suspense flick with Anna Paquin got out of the gate with an okay start in sixth, but with a moderate budget at about $12 million, could be another healthy horror title for Dimension Films. Darkness grossed $6.4 million over the Christmas weekend, so it’s off to a great start, at least compared to its production budget. Shot back in 2001, the film has already made some international appearances.
The Polar Express rode in to Christmas, and got through the holiday with the best hold in the top ten. The Tom Hanks extravaganza grossed $6.3 million in its seventh weekend of release and has now pulled in a total of $140 million, after dropping only 25% this weekend.
Eighth goes to Spanglish, as last weekend’s new release has hit the skids. The Adam Sandler film pulled in an estimated $5 million this weekend, dropping 43% compared to its opening weekend gross. The $100 million Sony release has now grossed $18.5 million after ten days of release.
Another film rising up the ladder from arthouse success is The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Bill Murray’s latest Wes Anderson film. The Life Aquatic grossed $4.9 million from 1,105 venues and had an average of $4,417. The Buena Vista release has a total so far of $5.3 million.
Finally in tenth is The Phantom of the Opera, Joel Schumacher’s version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The $60 million production grossed $4.2 million over the three-day portion of the weekend, and has pulled in $6.5 million since opening on Wednesday. If you are thinking that a tenth place finish is horrible news for the musical, don’t. Phantom had the second highest venue average in the top ten at $6,752.
Overall, box office was abysmal compared to last year at the box office, with most of the bad news coming because Christmas Eve fell on a Friday. The top ten this year grossed about $114.5 million, which compares poorly with last year’s $159.2 million; however, one must remember that last year wasn’t hurt as badly by Christmas Eve.