Twelve Days of Box Office: Day Two
By David Mumpower
December 22, 2006

The picture is a metaphor for Eragon's financial status.

Day two of the Twelve Days of Box Office is highlighted by a not-at-all surprising plunge by yesterday's champion. Rocky Balboa offered a strong debut on Wednesday with $6.2 million, but the final installment in the Rocky franchise failed to sustain momentum on day two. The MGM release earned only $3.4 million on Thursday, a hefty though not yet devastating decline of 45%. Whether this is a foreshadowing of a heavy frontloading remains to be seen. At the moment, the safer assumption is that we are seeing the normal behavioral pattern of significant day two declines for Wednesday releases, albeit to a larger degree than normal. We will know a lot more either way with the release of Friday numbers, but that won't stop us from forming a way-too-premature conclusion in a moment.

While Balboa saw a stiff drop from Wednesday, the rest of the top five experienced much more success. The Pursuit of Happyness increased almost $300,000 to $3.2 million. That's a tidy 10% bump for the Will Smith and Son awards contender. Charlotte's Web also increased $260,000 to $2.3 million, a 13% boost. Even shaky-legged Eragon saw growth from Wednesday. Thursday's $2.0 million for the $100 million budgeted (yikes!) Fox project is also a 13% increase. Noticing a pattern here? Rounding out the top five is the sixth best earner from Wednesday, Happy Feet. The feel good penguin picture's 31% growth is the largest in the top ten. With just right at $154 million in box office now, Warner Bros. officially has their first CGI-animated blockbuster.

Looking at the meta-perspective for the top ten, the news does seem a bit grim for Rocky Balboa. Every other title increased from Wednesday to Thursday save for Apocalypto, which was $20,000 away from being a wash. Considering that the average increase within the top ten is over 13%, that 45% drop is all the more unsettling. Generally, the philosophy is that people don't go on Thursday since the opening day rush is over and the weekend is but a day away. What we see with the overall box office landscape for Thursday, however, is that as we approach the official holidays, more and more consumers have vacation days, allowing them to catch a movie if so inclined. Friday numbers will confirm or refute the speculation, but there is cause for concern about Rocky Balboa's overall appeal as opposed to the mullet-loving '80s fans who have missed his less-subtle brand of cinema.

Tim Briody's excellent Friday Numbers Analysis column, day three of our Twelve Days of Box Office, will shed further light on the subject. We'll start getting into the more detailed numbers wonk stuff just after Christmas, so keep checking back every day for more of our acclaimed, borderline anal analysis.