Weekend Forecast for December 25-27, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

December 23, 2009

It's such a shame when big movie stars turn to a life of robbery and crime.

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The week's widest opener at 3,700 venues, it'll probably decline a bit in opening weekend box office because of the Wednesday opening, but still should come in with about $39 million over three days, and $50 million for its five day period, with the extra almost completely coming from December 23rd.

Up in the Air also goes wide on Wednesday, though this is from a national release instead of just from scratch. Jason Reitman's film about a nomadic businessman, an expert at firing people, has already earned $8 million in three weekends of limited release and now jumps to over 1,800 venues.

Starring George Clooney, along with Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, it's become a major awards contender, with six Golden Globe nominations to start, and a win for Best Film with the National Board of Review, which partially answers why its getting a wider release now. Clooney's character, as a man without connections and who likes it that way, seems like an odd choice for a holiday movie, but it's proving to be quite the inspiring film for audiences. Despite his fame, Clooney's almost never been a major box office guy, but this might change things slightly – this weekend should see Up in the Air reach $12 million, and $15 million over five days.

Seizing the "worst title of December" award quite firmly, It's Complicated opens at 2,800 venues on Christmas Day as the romantic comedy option for the holidays. A rare 50-something targeted film, it stars Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in a love triangle, with Streep and Baldwin playing exes who end up getting back together, except Streep was seeing Martin at the time and... well, you get the picture.

The closest analog to this film is Something's Gotta Give, which also was directed by Nancy Myers, who is quickly becoming the new Nora Ephron, for better or for worse. And although the thought of a romantic movie starring Jack Nicholson has quickly turned to ick, none of the stars here really has the pull in this kind of film that Nicholson did six years ago, strange as it is to think. Streep maybe comes closest on her hot streak of Mamma Mia! and Julie & Julia, but then there are the reviews to consider. They've been pretty tepid, and without any huge laugh moments in the trailer, I'm not seeing the urgency for people to check this out. I'm thinking we'll see a weekend of about $11 million.

Finally, we have Nine, this winter's musical. Directed by Rob Marshall of Chicago fame and adapted from the stage play that was itself derived from the Fellini film 8 1/2, it stars Daniel Day-Lewis as an artistically blocked Italian director, and follows him as he attempts to create a new film while balancing his many loves, who include Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson and Fergie. Poor bastard.


While several Broadway adaptations have had success in transitioning to the big screen, it appears as though Nine is about to flub this test. The desired critical support has failed to materialize and has even turned against the film in many cases, calling it a bit of a bloated mess. What we're left with wondering is how much the mostly female cast writhing around in their underwear can save the film's box office prospects. Surprisingly, it's probably not going to be that much. Opening on about 1,500 venues, it should see an opening weekend of just around $8 million.

Twelve years ago, James Cameron surprised the world by taking the number one spot the weekend before Christmas with his little art film. Almost immediately, though, it was evident that something special was happening with Titanic's box office, as it refused to yield to normal pressures. With his latest film Avatar, it's just possible he's done it again.

Although its $77 million opening weekend is impressive enough, Cameron's sci-fi epic and visual masterpiece is already showing signs of unusually strong word-of-mouth. It's just one day, to be sure, but its Monday figure of $16 million, a one-third drop when most films lose half or more of their box office, points to a growing perception that this is a must-see film, particularly in the expensive IMAX or 3-D formats. While a repeat of Titanic's run seems impossible and foolish to expect, it's not going to take much for Avatar to become a colossal success after its big start. This has an off chance to beat out Sherlock Holmes for a second weekend on top, but more likely will be a strong second with around $58 million.

The Princess and the Frog will be eclipsed in the family market by Alvin and the Chipmunks this weekend, and let's all sit back and think about that and be depressed. The Disney musical should still see a slight uptick with all the kids out of school, and bring in about $13 million this weekend.

Elsewhere, The Blind Side keeps running at a tremendous pace and seems destined for $200 million which...wait for it...just about no one saw coming. Watch it earn $9 million this frame.

The answer to the question Did You Hear About the Morgans? is "No." A dismal $4 million should greet it this weekend.

Forecast: Weekend of December 25-27, 2009
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Sherlock Holmes 3,700+ New 65.4
2 Avatar 3,400+ N/A 57.7
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel 3,800+ New 39.6
4 The Princess and the Frog N/A N/A 13.4
5 Up In the Air 1,800+ +1,600 12.4
6 It's Complicated 2,800+ New 11.6
7 The Blind Side N/A N/A 9.8
8 Nine 1,500+ +1,500 8.5
9 Did You Hear About the Morgans? 2,700+ N/A 4.5
10 A Christmas Carol N/A N/A 3.5

Continued:       1       2



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