Weekend Wrap-Up

Game Changer Avatar Breaks Few Records at the Box Office

By John Hamann

December 20, 2009

I always feel like somebody's watching me.

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Fourth this weekend goes to the floppish What About The Morgan's?, another rom-com miss. The Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker comedy failed miserably as counter-programming this weekend, as it earned only $7 million from 2,718 venues. It had a sad sack opening venue average of $2,575. The opening is on target with the Renee Zellweger disaster that was New in Town – that one flopped in January of 2009, opening to $6.7 million and finishing with $16.7 million. New in Town at least managed a fresh rating at RottenTomatoes of 18%, where What About the Morgan's? bottomed out at only 10% fresh. It should outgross New In Town only because of the scheduling it received.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon finds itself in fifth this weekend, as it tries to will itself toward $300 million. In its fifth weekend of release, Twilight: New Moon earned $4.4 million and was off 45%. New Moon is running out of gas in a hurry, but will still earn a few bucks more than it should over the holidays. Currently, it has a domestic total of $274.6 million, and an overseas total of $360 million.

Sixth spot goes to Invictus, Clint Eastwood's South Africa rugby drama which stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Despite all the names in the previous sentence being nominated for Golden Globes, Invictus still had a rough weekend. After opening to $8.6 million in the previous frame, Warner Bros. had to be hoping for great legs following the Golden Globes, but got the opposite. This weekend, Invictus earns only $4.2 million, and drops a troubling 52%. Invictus cost Spyglass Entertainment and its partners $60 million to make, a number this one won't see from domestic box office. Currently, Invictus has a running total of $15.8 million.

As expected, Disney's A Christmas Carol has a rough weekend, due to Avatar knocking it out of all those 3-D theaters, thus losing that 20-30% mark up. The Robert Zemeckis film earned $3.4 million in its seventh weekend, and was off 50%. Will it perk up a little over Christmas? Definitely, but it might be too little, too late. A Christmas Carol has a domestic take so far of $130.8 million and an overseas cume of about $150 million, versus that large $200 million production budget.


Up in the Air finishes a strong eighth this weekend, considering it's only out to 175 theaters, up from 72 last weekend when it earned $2.4 million. After scoring six Golden Globe nominations, Up in the Air took in another $3.1 million this weekend, which means the George Clooney flick is up 29% compared to last weekend. The drama looks to expand significantly next weekend, when it will be on about 2,000 screens. So far, Up in the Air has earned $8.1 million, and is just getting started.

Brothers finishes ninth this weekend, and is still dropping fast, despite two Golden Globe nominations. Brothers earned $2.6 million this weekend and was off 48%. So far, the Lionsgate drama has earned $22.1 million against a $26 million budget.

Old Dogs finishes tenth this weekend. The Robin Williams/John Travolta comedy earned $2.3 million and was off 48%. Somewhat surprisingly, this one has quietly earned $43.6 million versus a production budget of $35 million.

Overall, thanks to Avatar, the box office had a pretty good weekend. The top 12 films earned $125.6 million, which destroys last year's same weekend total of only $80.7 million, when Jim Carrey's Yes Man was on top. Last year was somewhat of an anomaly, however, as the same weekend in 2007, December 21st - 23rd, earned a more powerful $152 million on the strength of National Treasure 2 and the second weekend of I Am Legend. Next weekend brings Christmas, and with it comes Sherlock Holmes, the Robert Downey Jr. peculiarity. I'll be more than interested in how this one does versus the second weekend of Avatar. Wide releases will also include Nine, It's Complicated, Up in the Air and Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakquel.

Top Weekend Box Office for 12/18/09-12/20/09 (Actuals)
Rank Film Distributor Estimated Gross Actual Gross Weekly Change Running Total
1 Avatar 20th Century Fox $73,000,000 $77,025,481 New $77,025,481
2 The Princess and the Frog Walt Disney Pictures $12,224,000 $12,185,949 - 49.7% $44,717,721
3 The Blind Side Twentieth Century Fox $10,030,000 $10,021,280 - 33.4% $164,725,525
4 Did You Hear About the Morgans? Sony $7,000,000 $6,616,571 New $6,616,571
5 The Twilight Saga: New Moon Summit Entertainment $4,370,000 $4,407,598 - 44.6% $274,598,319
6 Invictus Warner Bros. Pictures $4,170,000 $4,203,171 - 51.2% $15,877,956
7 Disney's A Christmas Carol Walt Disney Pictures $3,419,000 $3,443,464 - 49.6% $130,813,354
8 Up in the Air Paramount $3,100,000 $3,210,132 + 34.1% $8,216,051
9 Brothers IFC Films $2,630,000 $2,889,121 - 42.4% $22,349,862
10 Old Dogs Walt Disney Pictures $2,289,000 $2,340,575 - 46.9% $43,625,471
11 2012 Paramount $2,150,000 $2,204,588 - 49.3% $159,028,696
12 Armored Screen Gems (Sony) $1,225,000 $1,284,591 - 63.3% $14,254,614
  Also Opening/Notables
  Nine The Weinstein Company $246,933 $257,232 New $257,232
  The Young Victoria $148,254 $160,069 New $160,069
  Crazy Heart Fox Searchlight $82,204 $82,664 New $107,996
  A Single Man The Weinstein Company $138,680 $142,848 - 34.3% $475,198
  The Lovely Bones DreamWorks $41,000 $45,097 - 61.3% $200,687
  The Road The Weinstein Company $612,258 $660,274 + 30.5% $4,926,949
  Me and Orson Welles $170,016 $156,420 + 1.1% $549,973
  Precious Lionsgate $1,120,000 $1,203,741 - 6.0% $40,084,412
Click here for all weekend data
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations
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