Weekend Wrap-Up

Christmas Jackpot For Sherlock Holmes, Avatar, and Fox

By John Hamann

December 27, 2009

The boys are informed that Avatar beat them. Holmes is taking it better than Watson.

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Finishing third, and not to be outdone with a huge gross, is the follow-up to Alvin and the Chipmunks. Alvin and company was the number one film on Wednesday, when it beat Avatar by $2.4 million. The Wednesday number came in at a surprisingly large $18.8 million, before dipping to $8 million on Christmas Eve. It had a strong Christmas Day gross of $14.5 million, and then pulled off a stunning Saturday, earning $20.4 million – more than its opening Wednesday. The five-day tally came in at a very impressive $77.1 million, and the Fox film had a three-day figure of $50.2 million, and a weekend multiplier of 3.5. Considering that both the original and sequel are hated by many, the kids flick still out-grossed the original over its opening weekend, as the original took in $44 million over the December 14, 2007 frame. 20th Century Fox dominated Christmas, with Avatar and Alvin in the top three and the combined three-day tally for both films coming in at $125.2 million. The sequel to Alvin and the Chipmunks will now have a very solid week heading toward New Year's, and another big weekend in the next frame.

The counter-programming choice this weekend was It's Complicated, as the Meryl Streep/Alec Baldwin/Steve Martin adult comedy placed fourth, earning $22.1 million from only 2,886 venues. It had an average of $7,663. This is another stunning gross for a film that would normally be squeezed out of the pie, but against kids' fare and blockbusters, still found an audience in a very big way. It's Complicated had the star power, as Meryl Streep is easily the biggest draw for the 45+ crowd right now, with her last three films, Mamma Mia!, Julie & Julia and It's Complicated, all debuting above $20 million over their respective opening weekends. The only drawback to the opening is that It's Complicated may not have the legs that Mamma Mia! or Julia had, as reviews, and likely word-of-mouth, may not be as golden. The comedy was definitely mixed with reviewers, as it scored only a 52% fresh rating with critics, down from the 75% rating that Julie & Julia earned. However, Mamma Mia! was a remarkably similar 53% fresh, and It's Complicated will benefit from the holiday week (and weekend) ahead.


Fifth place was a virtual tie between Up in the Air, the George Clooney dramedy, and The Blind Side, the now six (!) weekend old sports drama with Sandra Bullock. Estimates have Up in the Air finishing ahead in fifth with $11.8 million, and The Blind Side sixth with $11.7 million. These are two films moving in different directions. Up in the Air expanded this weekend to 1,895 venues from 175 last weekend (its venue average was $6,203), and The Blind Side's venues are contracting, moving from 3,407 last weekend, to 2,766 venues this weekend ( its venue average was $4,241). The Blind Side's sixth weekend gross is now the 15th biggest ever for that time frame, finishing behind Return of the Jedi's sixth weekend take of $12 million in 1983. As for Up in the Air, I think this one still has room to move up in terms of weekend gross, but it would have to further expand its venue count next weekend to do it. Remember that Up in the Air is 89% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and George Clooney looks his suavest in this one. Up in the Air has a current total gross of $24.5 million. The Blind Side still has one more power weekend to go, and appears more than set to cross the $200 million mark. It has a running total of $184 million.

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