Wednesday Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
November 23, 2006

He looks horny.

The Thanksgiving five-day box office weekend began as expected yesterday. Happy Feet and Casino Royale outclassed new competition from four new openers to finish 1-2 for the sixth straight day. Happy Feet appears likely to win the holiday battle. Its Wednesday performance of $7.4 million is $800,000 ahead of Casino Royale's $6.6 million.

Out of the four new openers, all struggled to gain ground against the strong holdovers. Deja Vu was the most successful, earning an estimated $3.6 million from 3,108 exhibitions, good enough for third place overall. Deck the Halls, a low-budget Christmas comedy, had been projected as a sleeper hit by some. That appears ambitious. The Fox release managed only $2.0 million from 3,203 venues. This total barely exceeds the $1.8 million The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause earned on its 20th day of release. Not good.

The other two Wednesday debuts struggled mightily. Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Jack Black's return to his roots, discovered very few people willing to rock out. The New Line project took in an estimated $1.3 million from 1,919 play dates. Similarly, Darren Aronofsky's ambitious generation-spanning The Fountain brought in less than $900,000 from 1,049 sites. That amount is good for only a tenth place finish. The only good news here is that is was fifth in terms of per venue average for the day.

For those of you unfamiliar with Thanksgiving box office behavior, projecting five days of receipts from a single day's performance is a shaky proposition. The first consideration is calendar configuration and the second is recent box office trending. The last time we had Thanksgiving on the 23rd was 2000. The two openers that year were Unbreakable and 102 Dalmatians. The M. Night Shyamalan film earned $6.8 million on Wednesday and accumulated right at $46 million over the five days. That's a five-day multiplier of 6.75. 102 Dalmatians had a miserable start of $2.6 million on its first day, yet wound up with $26.2 million over five days. That five day multiplier was over 10.

Looking back to 2005, there were five new openers. Out of those new films (holdovers ruled the day here as well), Rent finished first on Wednesday with $4.8 million, Yours, Mine and Ours was second with $3.2 million, Just Friends had $2 million; In the Mix took in $800,000 and The Ice Harvest scrounged up $500,000. Over the five-day period, Yours, Mine and Ours earned the most of any of the new films with $24.3 million. Rent was next with $17.1 million, followed by Just Friends with $13.2 million, In the Mix with $6.1 million and The Ice Harvest with $5.0 million. Those multipliers fall in the range of 3.6 to 9.3. It's safe to disregard Rent's multiplier since it had one of the lowest five-day multipliers in Thanksgiving box office history.

As we can see from the collated data from Thanksgivings 2000 and 2005, the down and dirty method for guestimating box office is to multiply the Wednesday number by 7.0. Doing so for this week's openers would give Deja Vu roughly $25 million, Deck the Halls $14 million, Tenacious D $9.1 million and The Fountain $6 million over five days. Keep in mind that these are just rough guidelines, and please check back Friday and Saturday for more detailed evaluations.