Weekend Wrap-Up for December 14-16, 2007

Will Smith a Legend at the Box Office

By John Hamann

December 16, 2007

That's a state of the art bathtub, built for comfort.

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Finishing a very big second is Alvin and the Chipmunks, the ridiculous-looking new feature from Fox. Alvin, Theodore and... this one has so much dust on it that I can't even remember the last chipmunk's name, or are they squirrels? Anyway, the new family movie with Jason Lee and David Cross blew my expectations away as well as tracking, as it opened very strongly with $45 million, which is a bigger shock to me than the disappointing Golden Compass debut last weekend. Alvin and friends were put out to 3,475 venues, and somehow managed to earn a huge venue average of $12,950. This one was expected to open in the $20-25 million range, so like I Am Legend, tracking dropped the ball in a big way this weekend. Alvin stakes a spot in the top ten December openers of all time, well ahead of huge star-driven projects like Lemony Snicket and Catch Me If You Can.

While Fox and the exhibitors showing this one must be thrilled, parents have to be hurting. Much like the Garfield flicks, this one got lambasted by critics, earning a 26% rotten rating at the review compilation website RottenTomatoes. Alvin and the Chipmunks was not an inexpensive effort for production partners Fox and Regency Enterprises, as this one cost $70 million to make. At first blush, this looked like way too much to spend on such a ridiculous concept, but families ate it up, and it ended up almost doubling the opening of the first Garfield flick, which debuted with $21.7 million. The original Garfield was a summer movie, so its legs weren't great - it finished with about $75 million. Alvin should earn a lot more over the rest of December. The real key to this release, though, will be international grosses; Garfield earned $75 million domestic, but took in $125 million overseas. Alvin and the Chipmunks is another huge win for the folks at Fox.

Third spot goes to last weekend's disappointing The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Things got a lot worse this weekend. After finishing last weekend with a disappointing opening frame of $25.7 million, the family action film tanked this weekend, earning only $9 million, giving the $180 million film a weekend-to-weekend drop of 65%. New Line kept their behemoth at 3,528 venues, and the film earned an average of $2,558. Heads are going to roll now at New Line, as what was once a big upcoming franchise for the studio will now be one of the bigger flops of all time, as it will be lucky to earn $80 million. Currently, The Golden Compass has earned $41 million.


Finishing fourth is Disney's Enchanted, as it begins to get buried by other family-friendly pictures. Enchanted earned a decent $6 million this weekend - despite duking it out with Alvin and The Golden Compass - and dipped 44% compared to last weekend. Is it too late for Enchanted to cash in on the Christmas holiday? Not really. I see a very slight dip coming in the next frame, and then a series of million dollar days (or two million dollar days) coming between December 25th and December 30th. Currently, Enchanted has earned $92.3 million after four weekends of release, and could finish with as much as $125 million - a large success for the folks at Disney.

Fifth spot goes to No Country For Old Men, the opus from Joel and Ethan Coen. No Country has held up quite well over the last few weekends, and this one is no different. Miramax added 24 more venues to bring Country's screen count up to 1,348 this weekend, and the film earned $3 million. It was off 29% from last weekend, as a string of Golden Globe nominations put it back in the spotlight this week. No Country For Old Men has now earned $33.6 million.

Finding sixth place is Fred Claus, as this one took an odd tumble. Fred Claus earned another $2.3 million and was off 51%. So far, Fred Claus has earned what's becoming a respectable $69 million and should do well right up until December 26th.

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