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Weekend Wrap-Up for November 9-11, 2007

Fred Claus Left Bee-hind at Weekend Box Office

By John Hamann

November 11, 2007

Look at their eyes. They're on drugs.

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Last weekend the stars came out at the box office, and the likes of Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe and Jerry Seinfeld lifted the pressure off the box office, as American Gangster and Bee Movie pushed the top 12 films over last year's totals for the first time in six weeks. This weekend, the stars are out again, with Tom Cruise, Vince Vaughn, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep bringing out Fred Claus and Lions for Lambs. Would a Christmas movie and a political drama be enough to lift the box office over last year? Don't count on it.

Unfortunately for Fred Claus and Warner Bros., the Christmas movie was not part of the race to be number one at the box office this weekend. The race was between American Gangster and Bee Movie, and thanks to the Veteran's Day holiday, Bee Movie is our number one film of the weekend. Bee Movie, written, produced and voiced by Jerry Seinfeld, climbs into the number one position after lagging behind American Gangster by about $7 million last weekend.

Bee Movie earned $26 million in its second frame, off 32% compared to its debut. While not the most stellar of holds, one must remember that Fred Claus did roll out this weekend, stealing a fair chunk of Bee Movie`s demographic. The animated DreamWorks/Paramount flick cost the studio $150 million to make, and at best, it will only match that figure domestically. At this point, I have Bee Movie`'s 51% fresh rating leading it to about $125 million, unless it hits a home run over Thanksgiving weekend. So far, the CGI flick about a bee suing humans over honey has earned $72.2 million.




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Our number two movie is American Gangster, the Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe tour de force. Being the more adult film, Gangster didn`t hold as well as Bee Movie, as it earned $24.3 million and fell an expected 44% compared to last weekend. I think that from here, we will start to see some better holds for Gangster as the weekends progress towards Christmas. The $100 million film should earn at least $125 million before the end of its run, making it Denzel Washington's highest earning film, surpassing Remember the Titans $115.6 million. So far, American Gangster has earned $80.7 million.

Finishing third is Fred Claus, which is stealing the early November release date made famous by Tim Allen and the Santa Clause movies. The Vince Vaughn/Paul Giamatti comedy didn't break out, but it didn't flop either. Fred Claus earned an okay $19.2 million this weekend from 3,603 venues. It had an average of $5,33. While Warner Bros. was certainly looking for higher ticket sales this weekend, let's have a look at what the first Santa Clause did back in 1994. The good news is that the first Clause opened to $19.3 million 13 years ago; however, adjusted for inflation that opening would equal about $28.6 million today, a figure that tracking and the studio were looking for from Fred Claus this weekend. Vince Vaughn had to be hoping for more himself, as he has quietly become a box office force to be reckoned with over the last few years. Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston opened The Break-Up to $39.2 million in June 2006, and opened The Wedding Crashers to almost $34 million and sent it on to earn over $200 million at the 2005 summer box office. He has been in 11 films that have opened above $15 million, and Fred Claus makes that a cool dozen. What could be a problem for Fred Claus is holding power, as a film like this needs to stay strong until Christmas if it hopes to cash in. Critics weren't kind. At RottenTomatoes, 87 critics chimed in on Fred Claus and only 20 found something to like. That gives Fred a rotten rating of 23%, which could hamper its legs in the future, although Fred's audience shouldn't be reading reviews.


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