Daily Box Office for December 26, 2007

By David Mumpower

December 27, 2007

And the writers get none of it! None of it, I say!

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The pattern of behavior is exactly what has happened here. Tuesday had combined top ten receipts of $58,159,595. Yes, that is the largest total out of the bunch. It is also a massive spike of over two and a half times what Christmas Eve's top ten managed. Is Christmas Day simply that good for box office? Well, yes, it is, but the phenomenon exists beyond the single day. The proof of this lies with Wednesday's top ten of $50,436,946. If you will glance up one paragraph, you will note that this number exceeds either Friday or Sunday in terms of combined top ten box office revenue. A random Wednesday is showing superior performance to two of the prior three weekend days. In a nutshell, this is the power of the holiday box office period.

For those of you new to the process, the key to attending a movie is free time. Given reasonable opportunity to attend and quality product to consume, customers will do just this. The period in late December is the best of the year for a reason. Potential consumers have more free time during this stretch than at any other point during the year due to a combination of company holidays, official government holidays, and vacation time. With regards to that last point, a lot of people are required to spend any accrued vacation days from the calendar year prior to its end, meaning that if they have not used them by December, they are almost out of time. In addition, many folks use this opportunity to travel home to spend time with relatives. Movies become a nice manner of polite escape once family members begin to wear upon one another's nerves, creating a sort of vacation cabin fever. This creates a potent cocktail of outside forces that makes any and all movies a reasonable solution to avoid (at least temporarily) the alcoholism and pushy pestering of annoying relatives. Studios capitalize on this each year.


The only exceptions to this phenomenon are Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Along with July 4th, these are the three "anti-holidays" on the calendar each year. On these holidays, consumers choose not to avail themselves of movie options at the Cineplex for various reasons. Instead, they choose to spend time traveling, shopping, or celebrating. In the cases of July 4th and New Year's Eve, it's the celebrating that becomes a negative factor. In fact, films that skew younger and more family oriented are not as negatively impacted on New Year's Eve as those that skew more adult. The reason is that families still have time to get to the matinees that afternoon, so the ordinary box office is not as negatively impacted. Raucous party goers do not have the same option for their festivities. Movies become an either/or proposition versus drunken revelry with the booze and sex almost universally winning out. This means we may expect next Monday's box office to be similarly weak relative to the previous and following days.

Christmas Eve's struggles are a bit more complex. The holiday is a travel day most of the time with consumers unable to go to a film due to being on the road. Obviously, this is not the case in 2007 since almost everyone who needed to travel somewhere was able to do so on the weekend prior to the holidays. The only exceptions would be those whose companies did not give a vacation day on Christmas Eve, but they wouldn't have been able to go see a movie anyway. That's not the root cause. Instead, it is that Christmas Eve has become the day where more people celebrate the gift-giving process. Combined with the fact that it is frequently the "catch-up day" where visiting family members have the first, best opportunity to make a year's worth of catch-up small talk, there is strong causality preventing people from going to the theater. And that is not even factoring in the unfortunate sorts who have not finished their holiday shopping prior to Christmas Eve. Historically, their numbers were larger than is the case in the era of Internet shopping, but this is still another segment that negatively acts against potential movie box office. In short, Christmas Eve movie releases are really up against it.

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