2012 Storms Box Office; Christmas Carol, Precious Strong
By John Hamann
November 15, 2009
Roland Emmerich's 2012 stormed the box office this weekend, as the two and a half hour event pic from Sony rolled out to 3,404 venues. 2012 was a huge gamble for Sony, as the disaster flick carried a $200 million production price tag, with a huge marketing cost coming on top of that. That wasn't the only interesting thing happening at movie theaters this weekend. Pirate Radio with Philip Seymour Hoffman opened, and Lionsgate expanded Precious to 174 screens after earning $1.9 million from only 18 screens last weekend. We also had a very important weekend for Disney, as A Christmas Carol needed a very solid hold this weekend to keep momentum going towards the holidays.
Our number one film of the weekend is Roland Emmerich's 2012, the extremely expensive disaster flick from Sony. It looks like the $200 million gamble for Sony is going to pay off, as 2012 opened to a very impressive $65 million from 3,404 venues. Tracking was predicting an opening between $55 and $60 million, so to out-gross forecasts over the opening frame is a huge win for the studio. The debut lands 2012 as one of the top seven openers ever for the month of November, coming in behind three Harry Potter films ($88.4-102.4 million opening), The Incredibles ($70.5 million opening), Twilight ($69.6 million opening), and Quantum of Solace ($67.5 million opening). Opening this big now is huge, as it should play well leading up to Thanksgiving, as it could be boys' choice next weekend versus Twilight: New Moon, and will still be the only real event film over the turkey-day holiday.
Since this was a Roland Emmerich flick, even if 2012 had opened below $50 million, it still wasn't going to be a disaster for Sony, as Emmerich's films tend to do twice as much business overseas as they do domestically. Going back all the way to 1994's Stargate, the international trend has held for Roland Emmerich. Stargate earned about $71.5 million domestically, out-earning its $55 million budget stateside, before going on to earn another $125 million on foreign shores. Next for Emmerich was the 1996 flick Independence Day, and as awful as it was, it made huge money both domestically and overseas for Fox. Independence Day earned over $300 million in North America, and over $500 million overseas, despite costing Fox only $75 million to produce. 1998's Godzilla was next and was a further step down in terms of film quality for Emmerich, but, still made big money. Godzilla cost Sony $125 million to make, and earned $136 million domestically and $240 million away from North America. After Godzilla, Emmerich made The Patriot with Mel Gibson, and had his first film that was more successful in North America than overseas. The Patriot earned $113 million at home, and $101 million overseas for Sony, against a budget of $110 million. After The Patriot, Emmerich took four years off, and came back with the disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow. The Dennis Quaid flick earned a very strong $186 million domestically, but almost doubled that internationally, with the film taking in $358 million overseas. Then, in 2008, Emmerich laid his biggest egg to date, 10,000 B.C., but even that one made money after counting foreign grosses. 10,000 B.C. earned only $95 million domestically, but took in another $174 million (!) from foreign grosses, against a budget of $105 million. Usually when we think big budgets and epic blockbusters, filmmakers like Michael Bay, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg come to mind, but I think we need to add Roland Emmerich to that list, like him or not.