First Weekend of 2009 Hot for Holdovers
By John Hamann
January 4, 2009
Dropping one spot from second last weekend to third this weekend is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Brad Pitt Oscar bait movie. After a $26.8 million opening frame, Benjamin Button lost a significant amount of its opening weekend audience, finishing with an $18.4 million gross in its second frame. Button was off 31% compared to last weekend. Despite the drop, this is still going to be a big success for Paramount, as the opening weekend and expected $125 million plus domestic gross, will most likely keep it high in the minds of Oscar voters. This is especially true if the Academy looks to become more movie-goer-friendly this year. Benjamin Button could cross the $100 million plateau next weekend, but will still have a ways to go to recoup its $150 million production budget. I'll be looking next weekend to see if this one can improve on its weekend to weekend percentage drop, as it heads into the heart of awards season with the Golden Globes being handed out next Sunday.
It was a battle of superstars vying for fourth spot, as Tom Cruise and Valkyrie took on Jim Carrey and Yes Man. The winner was Valkyrie, though it's pretty close to being effectively tied with Yes Man. Valkyrie earned $14 million and was off 33% compared to last weekend. Tom Cruise played it smart with Valkyrie, as production costs were kept low at $75 million - what basically amounts to an insurance policy against odd behaviour from its star. With a gross so far of $60.7 million, it looks like Valkyrie will earn at least that amount domestically, and then go on to be a force in overseas markets. This has to be considered a success for Tom Cruise, and maybe more importantly his studio, United Artists.
Next up are Jim Carrey and Yes Man, as we move to the group of films that are two weekends old. Yes Man had a positive third frame this weekend, earning $13.9 million, which compares extremely favorably to the $16.7 million it took in last weekend. The totals give Yes Man a drop of 17% this weekend, and follows an 8% drop in the previous weekend. This result is telling us that the opening weekend figure - $18.2 million - was an aberration of poor scheduling, and not the downturn of a guy who once was the world's biggest movie star. Yes Man has now earned a respectable $79.4 million, and will not be the disaster I thought it would be three weekends ago. Like Valkyrie, Yes Man was a shrewd investment for distributor Warner Bros., as costs were kept down to $70 million, a figure it surpassed this weekend.
Seven Pounds, another star driven vehicle - this time for Will Smith - finishes in sixth spot. The drama earned $10 million, and like Yes Man, follows a low drop last weekend (11%) with another solid drop this weekend - 24%. Again, like Valkyrie and Yes Man, costs were low for this Will Smith project at only $55 million, and that amount was easily surpassed this weekend as its cumulative total is $60.3 million. Will Seven Pounds be a $100 million domestic earner? Probably not, but it will earn at least $85 million domestically, with a similar amount to come from overseas grosses.