Weekend Wrap-Up

2-D Princess Dominates Pre-Avatar 3-D Weekend

By John Hamann

December 13, 2009

Wait! I belong in Peter Pan!

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While the above may all be true, The Princess and the Frog may see some sturdy legs. The Disney flick did turn in some fantastic reviews, and does that have that marketing machine in play. Reviews were fabulous – of the 99 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, a remarkable 84 were positive, leading to a solid score of 85% fresh. Reviews indicated how family friendly this one was, and considering that fact, Princess could play well throughout the holidays. The problem is, it may get buried next weekend when Avatar opens. Avatar could also play very well with families, and steal some of the media coverage from the Disney release. In the end, I expect an opening to total multiplier over 4.0, which would make this one a $80-$100 million effort for Disney. Budget data isn't available; however, I think it's safe to assume that this one cost at least $100 million, if not more.

Finishing a strong second this weekend is The Blind Side, a film that has shown the legs of a Disney sports movie, but is actually from Warner Bros. The Blind Side continues to hold strongly at the box office in its fourth frame, as it earned another $15.5 million, down 22% from its $20 million frame last weekend. To recap the phenomenon, The Blind Side opened to $34.1 million, rose to $40.1 million over the Thanksgiving frame, and then dropped to $20 million over the post-turkey day frame last weekend. The Blind Side reigned at number one for seven days – its 15th day to its 21st day of release, which in this day and age is extremely remarkable. The Sandra Bullock film has now reaped $150.2 million, and considering the holiday season is closely upon us, still has a chance at $200 million, against a budget of only $29 million.


Third spot goes to Invictus, the new Clint Eastwood flick that stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Considering this was a film about rugby in South Africa, Invictus had little chance of being a box office phenomenon a la The Blind Side. However, it did get off to a decent enough start at the box office, recording an opening frame of $9.1 million from a sparse venue count of 2,125. It had a venue average of $4,275. Gran Torino this is not, even though it tackles some similar themes. Gran Torino, when it went wide, earned $29.5 million, and in the five weekends that followed, dropped an average of only 24.6%. Invictus is a different film, geared toward an older, more refined audience. A slightly better comparison might be Million Dollar Baby, where Morgan Freeman and Eastwood worked together last. After a few limited release frames, Baby earned $12.3 million from 2,010 theatres. Reviews for Invictus were more Gran Torino (80% fresh) than Million Dollar Baby (91% fresh), as this one currently sits with a 78% fresh rating. Going forward, word-of-mouth should be strong for Invictus, and I imagine that once award season rolls into full gear, we will be hearing about this one quite a bit.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon moves down to fourth spot this weekend, as the opening weekend phenomenon is now earning about half what The Blind Side is. In its fourth weekend, New Moon earned $8 million from 3,635 venues, and dips hard again, dropping 48%. Since opening to that amazing score of $142.8 million, New Moon has dropped 70%, 64%, and now 48%. Still, the second film in the teen vamp saga has pulled in $267.4 million domestically, and over $300 million in overseas grosses, all against a budget of only $50 million.

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