Twelve Days of Box Office
By David Mumpower
December 23, 2008
With regards to Return of the King, that production's then-record $72,629,713 December debut was followed by a series of truly spectacular weekdays. When January 4, 2004 rolled around, the movie was already at $290,410,961. That's $218 million in box office in two weeks. Even Titanic's $129 million pales in comparison to that. Despite that record-setting opening weekend, Return of the King still managed a final multiplier of 5.2. That gives us a total of five films released this same weekend in 2003 and 1997. The smallest final multiplier of the group is 5, and that's why there is at least some cause for optimism for our three most recent openers. As long as they follow that pattern, Yes Man winds up with at least $91 million, Seven Pounds hits $75 million, and The Tale of Despereaux crosses $50 million. These are our landmarks moving forward over the next couple of weeks.
Now that we have the playing field set up, let's discuss Monday's box office.
As expected, Yes Man finished in first place with $3,610,321. That number is a decrease of 30% from Sunday's $5,121,271 and the total represents 20% of its weekend total of $18,262,471. Circling back to the historical comparisons, Mouse Hunt fell 28% during its first Sunday/Monday set and had a total that reflected 21% of its weekend total. Tomorrow Never Dies fell 53% and made 15% of its weekend total. Titanic fell 38% and earned 20% of its first weekend. Mona Lisa Smile fell 31% with 20% retention. Return of the King's totals fell 42% (keep in mind that it's on a much larger scale with $23,326,111 on Sunday and $13,563,208 on Monday) with 19% hold against what was the then biggest December performance ever. Reviewing, that's 28%, 53%, 31%, and 42% Sunday/Monday declines with 20%, 21%, 15%, 20% and 19% retentions from the weekend as a whole. Yes Man's 30% drop and 20% hold is as uniform as could possibly happen. That's the magic of the holiday season box office.
Now that we know what should happen on Monday and that Yes Man has behaved appropriately, let's examine the other two films. The shocker from Monday box office is that the second place movie does not star Will Smith. Instead, The Tale of Despereaux edges it with $2,483,145. That's an exemplary decline of only 10%, giving it bragging rights over every other title listed here...including Titanic and The Return of the King. Not bad, eh? It also had a retention of 25%, which is also best in the group for this calendar configuration. Normally, I would say that this is the advantage of smaller numbers at the start, but Mouse Hunt actually has an advantage there yet Despereaux outperformed it. This is all very good news for Universal as we start Christmas week at the box office.
With regards to Seven Pounds, the biggest story over the next few days is obviously going to be whether it makes a run at the expected $100 million mark Will Smith movies usually reach. Monday's box office of $2,310,779 is a decline of 42% and a retention rate of only 16%. As you can see, both of those numbers are toward the bottom of the list and once we factor in scale, it's easily the worst performer. Seven Pounds is in a lot of trouble already.
We'll focus on the rest of the top ten as the week continues. The only other pertinent piece of data for now is that the group combined to earn $15,855,791. Those of you who read the summer box office columns will instantly recognize that this is an okay but unspectacular result for the entire group. This is just not a great time at the box office. I would hate to be the person in charge of marketing a Tom Cruise in an eye patch movie about Nazis right now. Err, moreso than normal.
||The Tale of Despereaux
||Columbia Pictures (Sony)
||The Day the Earth Stood Still
||Twentieth Century Fox
||New Line Cinema
||Walt Disney Pictures
||Warner Independent Pictures
||Quantum of Solace
||Columbia Pictures (Sony), MGM
||20th Century Fox
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations