First Weekend of 2009 Hot for Holdovers
By John Hamann
January 4, 2009
Despite being the first movie-going weekend of 2009, studios presented zero new product in wide release, relying on a strong crop of openers to keep cash registers ringing. And ring they did. With strong product from wide releases Marley & Me, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Valkyrie - as well as some fantastic limited release properties (Gran Torino, The Wrestler, Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire just to name a few) - the box office was in no need of new product. Rinse and repeat is the story of the weekend.
Our number one film for the second straight weekend is Marley & Me, the very well-marketed dog movie from 20th Century Fox. The unexpected (but maybe most deserving) holiday winner rang up another $24.1 million in sales this weekend, and was off an okay 34% compared to the Christmas frame last weekend. Maintaining high percentage holds from Christmas weekend to this one is tough, as the Sunday impact is felt much more strongly than it was last weekend. The Sunday drop off for Marley & Me will be its highest of its run so far, after 11 days of release.
Marley & Me is the perfect example of how films excel when opened over the holiday season. It had its biggest day on Christmas day ($14.4 million), and its lowest day on New Year's Eve ($6.9 million), but it averaged a monstrous $10.3 million over its first eight days of release. For a film like Marley & Me, there is absolutely no other time of year where this is going to happen. A dog comedy with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston would get killed in the heights of summer, up against a Transformers sequel or the 100th Harry Potter film. Christmas is the only time of year that a family friendly film with limited CGI effects is going to dominate the box office like it has. Marley passed the $100 million mark this weekend, and currently the furry Fox flick has earned an outstanding $106.5 million after only 11 days of release. If we estimate a production cost of about $65 million for Marley, I think the folks at Fox will be very happy with this success, as it is a great way to end 2008 and provides a solid start to 2009.
Finishing second this weekend and up one spot from last weekend's third place finish, is Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories. Sandler is our first of many big stars to lose out to the lovable dog in Marley & Me. After a $27.5 million haul over the Christmas weekend, Bedtime Stories holds quite well this weekend with an estimated take of $20.3 million and just missing a leap into the number one spot. After earning $10.1 million last Friday, Bedtime Stories surprised with a $9 million haul this Friday, and a drop of only 26% over the weekend. This is definitely an improvement over last weekend when the Adam Sandler flick debuted in a surprisingly low third place, and a relief for Disney and Happy Madison, as the budget here must have been $100 million plus. It is my belief that Bedtime Stories suffered from an extremely poor marketing campaign - almost the reverse of Marley and Me, as this should have been a huge holiday season movie. Bedtime Stories now has an 11 day cume of $85.4 million.