Twelve Days of Box Office
By David Mumpower
December 29, 2006

What do you mean, you haven't seen Dreamgirls yet?

Thursday's box office results went pretty much as expected. There was but one noteworthy performance, another signal that the lasting appeal of Dreamgirls might be quite a bit less than most analysts, myself included, were expecting.

In day seven of the Twelve Days of Box Office, I confidently stated that the numbers for the titles in the top ten would remain fairly static throughout the rest of the weekdays. After a day of Tim Briody taking a break from my "manifesto" to discuss the most important box office stories from the holiday mid-week, let's take this opportunity to study the past two days of data to see how well my theory held. I am not going to lie. A couple of the movie performances were much less uniform than I had anticipated.

A look at day seven's top ten shows that A Night at the Museum earned $13.4 million, The Pursuit of Happyness earned $7.1 million, Rocky Balboa earned $4.5 million and The Good Shepherd earned $4.1 million. Dreamgirls also earned $5.8 million on Tuesday, but that's a project we identified as an exception. So, we will deal with it later in the discussion. For now, let's focus upon how the rest of the top five held up over Wednesday and Thursday.

After the $13.4 million Tuesday, Ben Stiller's comedy blockbuster fell only 10.9% on Wednesday to $11.9 million. There was further depreciation on Thursday as the project fell another 5% to $11.3 million. As was noted earlier in these discussions, the films that see the most fluctuation are the ones with the largest totals. As such, it's not surprising to see the $2.1 million correction from Tuesday to Thursday. Some of the other productions in the top ten are a bit more surprising.

The Pursuit of Happyness declined from $7.1 million to $5.7 million to $5.4 million. Those are drops of 20% and 5% as well as an overall fall of $1.7 million from Tuesday to Thursday. Rocky Balboa saw an even stiffer fall from $4.5 million to $3.3 million to $3.0 million. Those are declines of 27% and 9% as well as an overall decline in revenue of $1.5 million to Tuesday to Thursday. Finally, The Good Shepherd started at $4.1 million then fell to $3.0 and $2.7 million. Those are drops of 27% and 10% with $1.4 million fewer receipts from Tuesday to Thursday.

Looking at these numbers, there appears to be uniform behavior throughout the top five. Every title listed above started off very strong on Tuesday then lost a lot of momentum on Wednesday followed by even more of a decline on Thursday. Oddly, this was not the case throughout the top ten. Two notable exceptions occurred. Charlotte's Web moved from sixth place on Tuesday with $3.9 million to $4.2 million on Wednesday (an 8% boost in business) followed by $4.3 million on Thursday, good enough for third place on each day. Happy Feet followed this model as well. The penguin CGI flick started in ninth place on Tuesday with $2.4 million before eighth place on Wednesday with $2.6 million then seventh place on Thursday with $2.7 million. You don't need a doctorate in rocket science to deduce the reason for this anomalous behavior. With so many families on vacation this week, genial, comfortable titles such as these are bulletproof in terms of holdover appeal. This allows them to escape the otherwise consistent behavior throughout the top ten.

The rest of the top ten saw the uniform behavior I had anticipated. Eragon's Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday totals were $3.1 million, $2.7 million and $2.6 million respectively. We Are Marshall started at $2.9 million Tuesday, fell to $2.3 million Wednesday, then fell ever so slightly further to $2.2 million on Thursday. The impeccably cast romantic comedy The Holiday, earned $2.2 million on Tuesday then accumulated $2.0 million each on Wednesday and Thursday. All of these titles fell within the few hundred thousand of deviation I stated should be expected in the day seven analysis.

That leaves us with only Dreamgirls to discuss. I thought that this was a Beyonce musical that would behave similarly throughout the week. Instead, its behavior has been more easily identified with Eddie Murphy's batch of lackluster comedies (Holy Man, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Metro, Vampire in Brooklyn, and Showtime to name a few). Okay, that's an exaggeration but only a slight one. While everything else in the top ten has been holding its own, Dreamgirls has been acting like a mob informant plunging into the ocean as he tries to remove the cement shoes.

The movie's fall from $8.5 million on Monday to $5.8 million on Tuesday was to be expected. The declines to $4.0 million on Wednesday followed by $3.6 million on Thursday are harder to explain. Simply put, this should not be happening. A simple look at all of the empirical data for the rest of the top ten over the past two weeks shows that movies make relatively similar money each day. How, then, are we to explain the fact that a movie with huge Oscars buzz fell from $8.5 million to $3.6 million in 72 hours? And even if we remove the opening day out of the equation, the plunge from $5.8 million on Tuesday to $3.6 million on Thursday would still be the largest out of the top ten. Hopefully, Dreamgirls will stabilize over the weekend and will gain its second wind as we move further into awards season. At the moment, however, it seems like another Ali.