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Weekend Wrap-Up

First Weekend of 2009 Hot for Holdovers

By John Hamann

January 4, 2009

The dog is hoping he is called The Butterscotch Stallion for flavor reasons.

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The Tale of Despereaux has quietly had an okay Christmas season, and is another film that has followed the Valkyrie /Yes Man/Seven Pounds model by keeping costs down. In its third weekend, Despereaux earned $7 million, and was off a very small 21% compared to last weekend, where it fell only 12%. Like the others mentioned above, it didn't have a huge opening weekend, but due to the holiday season, it didn't really have to. The production cost was low for animation - especially what looks to be high end animation - with a budget of only $60 million. Sure it only has a gross so far of $43.7 million, but had it opened at any other time of the calendar, this would have been a disaster considering its $10 million opening weekend. I expect this one to finish close to its production budget figure, do okay overseas, and then do well again on DVD.

Doubt moves up two spots to eighth and manages an excellent hold. Doubt earned $5 million from only 1,287 venues and drops only 6% from the previous frame. With these grosses from such a small venue count, Doubt has increased its odds to be remembered on Oscar night; however, there are a lot more of these small films still to come. So far, Doubt has earned $18.7 million against a budget of $20 million.

The Day the Earth Stood Still finishes in ninth and has been all over the place since the start of its run. It opened to an okay but not great $30 million, plunged 68% in its second frame, and then recovered somewhat over the Christmas weekend with a 22% drop. This weekend, The Day the Earth Stood Still earned $4.9 million and dropped 37%. One might think that this effects heavy sci-fi flick might be in some trouble with a gross so far of $74.3 million, but with a budget of only $80 million and an overseas gross of over $100 million already, Fox won't have to worry about this one.

Finishing tenth is Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle's best film since Trainspotting. Slumdog earned $4.8 million and increased 11% after eight weekends in limited release - the only film in the top 12 to do so. The small, $15 million film has now grossed $28.8 million for Fox Searchlight.




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Eleventh goes to Twilight, which has seen its weekend percentage drops go from the mid-60s, to the mid-30, and into the single digits. This weekend Twilight earns $4.5 million, and drops 4%. Now out for an incredible seven weekends, the teen vampire flick has now grossed an astounding $176.8 million - not bad for the $35 million investment. The top 12 closes out with Bolt, which also saw a fantastic hold as it fell only 3% from last week to $3.3 million and increases its overall total to $109.9 million.

In limited release, Defiance with Daniel Craig did okay, earning $121,000 from only two venues. Revolution Road with DiCaprio and Winslet expanded to 35 venues, and pulled in $979,000. Gran Torino stayed on 84 screens, and earned $2.8 million, while The Reader expanded to 398 venues and pulled in $1.6 million. Finally, The Wrestler earned $431,884 from 18 venues. It's been a long while since we've seen limited release action like this - hopefully 2009 will see a resurgence of the arthouse film.

Overall, things are up compared to the first weekend in 2008. A year ago, National Treasure: Book of Secrets was on top with $20 million, and the entire top five grossed in excess of $12.5 million. The top 12 in 2008 earned $121.2 million. This year, with six films grossing more than $10 million, the top 12 films earned a powerful $130.1 million, a record for the first weekend in January.

2008 as a whole saw revenue drop slightly from $9.62 billion to $9.61 billion. Attendance, however, was down 3.8%, with 1.34 billion tickets sold as opposed to 1.39 billion tickets sold in 2007.


Top Weekend Box Office for 1/2/09-1/4/09 (Actuals)
Rank Film Distributor Estimated Gross Actual Gross Weekly Change Running Total
1 Marley & Me Twentieth Century Fox $24,050,000 $24,263,763 - 33.3% $106,664,046
2 Bedtime Stories Walt Disney Pictures $20,317,000 $20,501,339 - 25.3% $85,539,168
3 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Paramount $18,400,000 $18,691,248 - 30.4% $79,297,086
4 Valkyrie United Artists $14,042,000 $14,094,617 - 33.0% $60,743,921
5 Yes Man Warner Bros. $13,850,000 $13,910,477 - 16.5% $79,507,388
6 Seven Pounds Columbia Pictures (Sony) $10,000,000 $10,068,518 - 23.7% $60,147,298
7 The Tale of Despereaux Universal $7,019,816 $6,939,295 - 22.3% $43,661,775
8 The Day the Earth Stood Still Twentieth Century Fox $4,850,000 $5,049,698 - 34.4% $74,424,256
9 Doubt Miramax Films $5,031,000 $5,000,893 - 6.3% $18,705,481
10 Slumdog Millionaire Warner Independent Pictures $4,770,000 $4,690,769 + 9.0% $28,676,598
11 Twilight Summit Entertainment $4,530,000 $4,648,642 - 2.0% $176,922,850
12 Bolt Walt Disney Pictures $3,271,000 $3,291,944 - 2.5% $109,917,145
  Also Opening/Notables
  Defiance Paramount Vantage $121,000 $123,513 New $200,614
  Good THINKFilm $9,300 $9,508 New $13,561
  The Spirit Lionsgate $3,270,000 $3,259,898 - 49.6% $17,743,738
  Revolutionary Road Paramount Vantage $979,000 $985,961 +419.2% $1,375,749
  Last Chance Harvey Overture Films $107,000 $102,206 + 5.1% $350,947
  Waltz With Bashir Sony Pictures Classics $54,374 $53,564 - 22.4% $159,254
  The Wrestler Fox Searchlight $431,884 $437,815 + 13.0% $1,762,043
  Gran Torino Warner Bros. Pictures $2,820,000 $2,936,423 + 26.4% $9,820,554
  The Reader The Weinstein Company $1,620,000 $1,598,472 +140.7% $3,553,578
  Frost/Nixon Universal $1,441,150 $1,400,484 + 3.3% $6,291,176
  Four Christmases New Line Cinema $2,870,000 $2,811,390 - 41.9% $118,189,834
  Milk Focus Features $1,860,112 $1,888,510 + 7.1% $17,157,994
  Australia 20th Century Fox $1,150,000 $1,163,169 + 7.8% $46,686,713
Click here for all weekend data
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations
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