Sunday actuals are in and the numbers extrapolated from Friday using historical trending were extremely accurate with one surprising, impressive exception.
Twelve Days of Box Office: Day Five
By David Mumpower
December 25, 2006
Night at the Museum earned just under $6 million on Sunday, giving it a three-day tally of $30.9 million. The Dick Van Dyke (I don't care how much he's in it, he's the biggest star) CGI-intensive comedy had a weekend multiplier of 2.51. Those of you who perused Friday's column realize not to read too much into the low weekend multiplier. All of the movies should be showing strong recoveries on Monday. Night at the Museum should have a performance in excess of $10 million today. Whether that is good enough for it to maintain first place remains to be seen; however, Academy Awards frontrunner Dreamgirls enters the marketplace and it could rain on Ben Stiller's dinosaur parade.
The movies in second through fourth place performed exactly as expected. In fact, our Friday analysis estimates missed the trio by an average of only $200,000. That's the beauty of holiday modeling. There is a great deal of certainty in the process. The Pursuit of Happyness, the second place earner, wound up with $3.2 million yesterday, giving it $14.9 million for the weekend. The internal multiplier of 2.76 was one of the best in the top ten. Similarly, The Good Shepherd's $2.2 million on Sunday gives it the predicted $9.9 million for the weekend along with an internal multiplier of 2.79. Less fortunate was the movie slotted between them in third place, Rocky Balboa. Stallone's latest project lacks the box office Eye of the Tiger it needs. Another $2.0 million on Sunday reflects an internal multiplier of only 2.46 with a weekend tally of $12.3 million. The movie's grand total of $21.8 million represents a respectable five-day opening, but there is cause for concern that the finale in the boxing saga will reach the bottom portion of the top ten by the middle of the week.
The news is better for the pleasant surprise of Christmas Eve box office, The Nativity Story. When I extrapolated its weekend performance, I had a debate with my wife about whether or not the movie would show improvement on December 24th. Both of us were in agreement that Christmas Day would be huge, but with so many families traveling or celebrating yesterday, we were unsure of whether it would see any significant box office. It did. The Nativity Story earned $1.6 million on Sunday. Before you start pointing out that it had earned $2.0 million on Saturday and just under $1.6 million on Friday, remember the rules of the holiday. Movies are supposed to experience devastating declines on Christmas Eve. The Nativity Story did not. It had the smallest drop within the top ten, allowing it to simultaneously claim the best internal multiplier with a sensational 3.34. If this news is not positive enough for you, simply consider the fact that the holiday tale of the birth of Baby Jesus finished in tenth place on Friday and Saturday. Yesterday, it jumped all the way up to fifth place. Nice. New Line has also done something quite clever to celebrate the holiday. The movie's climactic scene is available for viewing today only. You can watch the end of The Nativity Story here. New Line deserves a lot of credit for this classy move.
Finishing my thoughts from Friday, here is how Christmas Eve impacts the box office. You will recall that the numbers for 2005 were $36.4 million on Friday, $20.1 million on Saturday (Christmas Eve) and $41.5 million on Sunday. The last time we had the same calendar configuration as now, 2000, saw $39.1 million on Friday, $43.4 million on Saturday and a precipitous drop to $20.1 million on Sunday (Christmas Eve). That's a 45% drop in 2005 and a 54% drop in 2000. For 2006, the final results are $39.9 million on Friday, $43.3 million on Saturday and $20.7 million on Sunday (Christmas Eve). The similarities between this year and 2000 are downright uncanny. We had $800,000 more business on Friday, $100,000 less business on Saturday and $600,000 more on Sunday. As far as statistically modeling scenarios go, this is as close to a perfect blueprint as we will ever see at the box office.