Mid-February Means Moolah at the Box Office
By John Hamann
February 17, 2008
With Valentine's Day landing on a Thursday leading into the long President's Day weekend, February 14th - 18th was set to be a huge earner for studios and exhibitors. In 2007, the President's Day weekend was huge, as six films earned more than $10 million over only the three-day portion of the long weekend. History looks like it is set to repeat itself, as big films like Doug Liman's Jumper, sequel Step Up 2 The Streets, kid flick The Spiderwick Chronicles and Definitely, Maybe all opened this weekend. Could the top 12 films at the box office overtake last year's record holiday haul of $142 million over three days?
The President's Day weekend has quietly become a huge weekend in the calendar year for launching big movies. Last year, Nic Cage opened Ghost Rider over the presidential frame to huge business - $45 million over three-days, $52 million over four - and did that business while leading a pack of other big new openers. Bridge to Teribithia also surprised with $22.5 million over three days, and was followed by the second weekend of Norbit ($16.8 million), Music & Lyrics ($13.6 million) Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls ($11.2 million), and thriller Breach ($10.5 million). That's $120 million for six films over three days, which showed exhibitors that there is room for a lot of large titles over the President's Day weekend. In 2006, five films earned $10 million or more, but there wasn't a Ghost Rider leading the pack, it was the Disney flick Eight Below in the lead, earning $20.2 million over three days. In 2005 there weren't a lot of middling films, but two films, Hitch and Constantine, both earned $30 million over the three days. The trend is there for big, big films to open over this long weekend, and the 2008 slate tried to take advantage, this time adding Valentine's Day to turn the frame into a potential five-day mega-earner.
The number one film of the weekend is Jumper, Doug Liman's (The Bourne Identity, Go) first foray into science fiction. Jumper, which looks like it could have been interesting had it not starred Pinocchio himself, Hayden Christensen, opened to an only okay $27.2 million from 3,428 venues. It had a three-day venue average of $7,942. Jumper got off to a fair start on Valentine's Day, earning $6.6 million and leading the pack. This could be considered a solid start for a non-Star Wars Hayden Christensen flick, as Darth Vader has been in zero significant films since the Star Wars prequels finished up. Personally, I was excited by the trailer for Jumper, but can't get past the fact that they chose Christensen for the lead. Christensen is the new Paul Walker, another actor I would cross the street to avoid. Critics agreed, and Jumper got lambasted by reviewers everywhere. At RottenTomatoes, things were extremely ugly for Jumper. Of the 105 reviews counted, only a scant 16 were positive leading to an overall rotten rating of 15%. Of the top critics in the nation, only 3% of those reviews were positive (one positive out of 30 possible). For the desired demographic of boys aged 21 and younger, reviews aren't going to matter, but to establish a franchise, things have to go better than they did. Such poor reviews are somewhat of a surprise for director Liman, who has seen some success with critics. Franchise launcher The Bourne Identity was Liman's, and it opened to $27 million in 2002. It went on to earn $125 million domestically and over $210 million worldwide. Mr. & Mrs. Smith didn't start a franchise, but did garner a 60% fresh rating and opened to $50 million before going on to earn almost $500 million worldwide. Jumper is not going to be a legs film, and if it can get to $100 million, I think that would be considered a very large victory for Liman and Fox.