Twelve Days of Box Office: Day Six
Dreamgirls succeeds where Showgirls did not
By David Mumpower
December 26, 2006

Has anyone seen my friends from Party of Five?

We are halfway done with the Twelve Days of Box Office and for the third time in six days, new product has entered the marketplace. Black Christmas, a re-make featuring a defiant marketing campaign is the big story...unless you want to discuss Dreamgirls. Why does no one ever root for the box office underdog the same way they root for Gonzaga?

Since you people seem to enjoy showy, successful projects, I guess we will lead with Dreamgirls. The movie that has done the impossible, gained Eddie Murphy Oscar buzz, debuted with a scintillating $8.4 million on Monday. This was good enough for second place behind Night at the Museum's $11.9 million. Considering the fact that Dreamgirls had 400 fewer exhibitions than any other title in the top ten, this performance is nothing short of extraordinary.

We have already had the discussion about how opening day success does not always translate to long-term financial viability, but something tells me Dreamgirls will not suffer the same fate as the flagging Rocky Balboa. While I don't want to spoil anything with regards to future updates in our Awards section, Dreamgirls is considered the frontrunner in most Oscars tracking discussions. Since movies with such buzz have a tendency to run through March, Dreamgirls appears to be a likely candidate for $100 million. Of course, it's impossible as well as reckless to project overall performance after one day of receipts. So, keep in mind that I am bullish about its long term prospects and leave it at that for now.

Third, fourth and fifth place were anchored by the usual suspects. Pursuit of Happyness drops one slot due to the new competition from Beyonce, but it still manages a solid $7.6 million. The Will Smith and Son project crosses the $60 million threshhold and appears certain to break $100 million. I said it the other day and I will probably say it again over the next few days. Will Smith is as reliable a box office star as there is working today. Rocky Balboa recovers from some heavy punches over the weekend, fighting back with a respectable $5.0 million on Monday. The man who apparently inspires Jeff Garcia to fight on in the face of adversity has now earned $26.8 million after six days of release. Meanwhile, The Good Shepherd creeps along with another $4.1 million, bringing its grand total to $14.0 million. The Robert De Niro movie is going to make a lot more than the $17 million his other directorial effort, A Bronx Tale, earned. Then again, the 1993 production cost about $22 million, almost $90 million less than this latest project. Stating the obvious, The Good Shepherd is in a lot of trouble financially.

Finishing just outside the top five is the other new entrant from Christmas Day. Glen Morgan, half of the Morgan/Wong X-Files team who found later fame with the Final Destination franchise, has re-made Black Christmas, the 1974 classic from director Bob Clark. You might know him from another work that was on TBS all day yesterday, A Christmas Story. Face it, the man had some turbulent holidays growing up. Anyway, Morgan took a shot at creating another modern update of a slasher classic, but the results are largely mixed. Black Christmas earned only $3.3 million in its debut.

There is also a significant chance that this one will not see the same strong holdover that all the other projects in the top ten are experiencing. If that is the case, the low-budget nature of the genre probably still makes this a wash as a worst case scenario and potentially even profitable for MGM. But in three months when you ask someone what the other release was the day that Dreamgirls came out, there is almost no chance they will come up with the right answer. Black Christmas is mainly good for trivia purposes, much like 1999's The Love Letter (look up the release date on it to figure out why).

Today's top ten table has been done a bit differently from prior days in the Twelve Days of Box Office. When you look at the table below, pay particular attention to how movies improved from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. In the future, whenever someone on the site discusses how much a holiday may negatively impact a movie's forward progress financially, keep this case study in mind. Eragon's 72% growth is the smallest in the top ten.