Christmas Bonanza Continues at the Box Office
By John Hamann
December 30, 2007
As expected at the box office this week, things have been very good for studios and exhibitors. With Christmas landing on a Tuesday this year, the box office thrived last weekend, thrived over Christmas week, and had an even better weekend this frame. Thankful movies have included big action flicks like National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend, as well as smaller films out to only a handful of screens like Juno, Atonement and Sweeney Todd. The biggest winners, though, are the kids flicks, and from out of nowhere, Alvin and the Chipmunks looks to be one of the bigger winners of the holiday season.
With Christmas 2007 already a memory, new movies are taking a weekend off, letting the big holiday releases breathe after an extremely hefty meal. Films like Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and The Water Horse: The Legend of the Deep see their first weekend action in this frame after opening on Christmas Day last week. If the pattern holds this weekend, kids flicks should see a lift, while the bigger action flicks should see a small drop compared to last weekend, but the usual big percentage drops should be softened. The last time Christmas fell on a Tuesday was in 2001. A small film called Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring opened the weekend before Christmas to $74 million over five days, and dropped only 18% in the post-Christmas frame. By the end of its second weekend, it had earned $174 million. While the gross was remarkable, LOTR was one of only two films that saw a percentage drop in the post-Christmas frame. Everything else was up, especially films aimed squarely at kids. Jimmy Neutron saw a 9% increase in its second frame, which is the only reason this dud made $80 million by the end of its run. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was up 55% from the pre-Christmas weekend and Monsters, Inc. was up 61%. This weekend, I'm looking for the same trend. The question is whether a small lift for Alvin and the Chipmunks, the season's biggest surprise, can catapult it past the National Treasure sequel.
The number one film of the weekend is National Treasure: Book of Secrets, as Alvin and Friends couldn't put enough push together to get it past the Nicolas Cage follow-up. In its second weekend, National Treasure 2 took in $35.6 million and was off a slim but expected 20%. Still at 3,832 venues, this silly but entertaining film had a venue average of $9,299. Book of Secrets has had a great Christmas week, earning about $45 million between Monday and Thursday. National Treasure: Book of Secrets crossed the $100 million mark on Friday, its seventh day of release, the same amount of time it took I Am Legend to reach the same mark. The Nic Cage action flick has now earned $124 million, and the National Treasure sequel should end up earning more than the original's $173 million earned back in 2004. For Disney, it's been a lucrative holiday season, as Enchanted surprised and National Treasure has dominated Christmas week. Look for Treasure to earn $200 million domestic and the same amount overseas.