Post Holiday Frame Strong, But Boring
By John Hamann
January 6, 2008
Now that the Christmas tree is down, and the house has been repaired following New Year's, the holiday season's big movies have one more weekend to shine before drowning in what looks to be a horrid crop of January openers (except for Cloverfield - I'm still hoping for greatness, JJ). Our only new release this weekend is One Missed Call (a movie we would all be better off missing), the standard awful horror flick that's become a January necessity. This weekend, though, is all about the holdovers. Would National Treasure: Book of Secrets repeat on top for a third straight weekend? Would Alvin and the Chipmunks bite Nic Cage on the you-know-what and finally take top spot? Or could our number one be the lovely Juno, which seems to be evolving on superlative word-of-mouth, as this year's little-film-that-could expands to almost 2,000 venues. Whatever the case, it should be an interesting start to 2008.
Over the holiday period, this column compared this year's box office lottery season to that of 2001, when The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Ocean's Eleven dominated the Christmas 2001 season. In the first frame of 2002, LOTR dropped 41%, earning $22 million. That would be the biggest drop for the original Rings film until May, which equalled a stunning five month run for the $313 million grosser. The average drop in the top ten that weekend was 40%. This weekend, I predict we will see similar drops, except for Juno and maybe Atonement, as they are our expanding films this weekend. Also that year, the lone new release, Impostor with Gary Sinise, failed to crack the top ten with a $3 million gross. Would the same thing happen this year?
Our number one film of the weekend - for the third weekend in a row - is National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the fun but silly adventure flick with Nicolas Cage. I thought audiences would be more tired of this by now than they are, but Book of Secrets was able to churn out a third weekend gross of $20.2 million, which gives it a percentage drop of 43%. Book of Secrets earned about $142 million over the 12 days between December 21st and New Year's Day, which equals a very impressive $11.8 million daily average. Even if Book of Secrets had lost 60% this weekend, the folks at Disney were still going to be very happy with this release, as Book of Secrets is on the doorstep of out-grossing the original, which earned $173 million in 2004. So far, the Nic Cage sequel has earned $171 million, and it could see as much as $250 million before it's done.
I Am Legend becomes our second place finisher film, as its overall weekend improved vastly over its Friday return. In its fourth weekend, Will Smith earned another $16.4 million with Legend, and was off 40% from the previous frame. It's essentially in a photo finish with the third and fourth place movies, so we could see some shuffling of the order when actual numbers come in. I Am Legend is going to finish as the most successful film of the holidays, as it has now earned $228.7 million, and could finish with as much as $275 million.