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The Twelve Days of Box Office

Daily Box Office Analysis for December 21, 2010

By David Mumpower

December 22, 2010

He looks like Billy Mack right before he strips nekkid on Christmas.

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The explanation for this is that while the movie industry may change dramatically over the course of just a few years, consumer behavior does not. We as a people celebrate the holidays in largely the same way each calendar cycle. If Christmas is on a Tuesday, we plan accordingly; if it’s on a Saturday, as is the case this year, we adapt to that, and so on. Independent of the movies themselves, movies are still consumed in the same patterns by their customer base. Long time readers know that this behavior holds for periods such as President’s Day, Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, July 4th and the December holiday period. The last two mentioned in the previous sentence are a bit unique in that they are not automatically slotted on a weekend, meaning that their celebratory period can occur on any day of the week.

This behavior is exactly what makes the July 4th, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve box office days so fascinating. These are holidays during which people ordinarily have other plans such as parties, fireworks, drunken hook-ups, and travel. For over a decade now, BOP has preached about the x-factor of free time as an explanation for why movie box office revenue increases dramatically on holidays. When consumers make plans for other activities, they do not have that x-factor of free time that is requisite for movie-going. As such, those three holidays operate as box office anti-holidays in that revenue is down rather than up. Oddly, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day will not be adversely affected by such behavior and will in fact experience huge box office revenue.




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Now that you have the meta view of the situation, let’s circle back to the earlier Tron: Legacy data, tying in the 2004 Lemony Snickets model. That title earned $8.3 million on Sunday then fell 47.1% to $4.4 million on Monday then dropped again to $4.2 million on its first Tuesday in release. That Tuesday total reflects 50.6% of the movie’s Sunday earnings. The combined Monday/Tuesday total of $8.6 million represents 3.6% more than its Sunday single day box office of $8.3 million. As a reminder, the Tron data listed above was a Monday decline of 47.7% (almost identical to Lemony Snicket) then an increase of 5.8% on Tuesday (much better than the 4.5% drop of Lemony Snicket). The particularly noteworthy numbers are the Sunday-to-Tuesday retention rate of 55.3% for Tron: Legacy as opposed to 50.6% for Lemony Snicket. Similarly, Tron: Legacy’s 7.1% increase from Sunday to combined Monday/Tuesday revenue is better than the 3.6% experience by Lemony Snicket.

Thus far, we can draw two conclusions from the data available. The first is that Tron: Legacy is performing somewhat similarly to its 2004 blockbuster counterpart, Lemony’s Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events. Its Monday behavior was eerily similar but then Tron: Legacy held up much better on Tuesday. This leads to the second point. After five days of box office, Tron: Legacy is outperforming its 2004 modeling. Is this a one day glitch or the beginning of a trend? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining whether Tron: Legacy becomes a domestic winner or remains what it appeared to be after its opening weekend, a draw for Disney relative to production budget.

Over the course of the next several days, we will evaluate all of the titles in wide release. Tomorrow’s column will have a different main topic, however, as the Little Fockers is released into theaters. This is the sequel to arguably the most popular comedy of all time, Meet the Fockers, a $279 million winner from…Christmas week of 2004.


Rank
Film
Studio
Gross ($)
Venues
Per-Venue
Percentage Decline
Domestic Total
1 Tron: Legacy Walt Disney $6,350,783 3451 $1,840 +5.8 $56,379,798
2 Yogi Bear Warner Bros. $2,948,354 3515 $839 +16.6 $21,788,141
3 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Fox $2,660,104 3555 $748 +19.6 $47,637,400
4 Tangled Walt Disney $2,462,425 3201 $769 +23.8 $132,369,375
5 The Fighter Paramount $1,903,048 2503 $760 +17.5 $16,092,257
6 Black Swan Fox Searchlight $1,593,300 959 $1,661 +6.4 $18,882,177
7 The Tourist Sony $1,467,036 2756 $532 +20.2 $33,301,501
8 How Do You Know Sony $1,197,326 2483 $482 +12.8 $9,743,996
9 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I Warner Bros. $1,122,149 2860 $392 +16.5 $267,808,784
10 Burlesque Sony $337,799 1510 $224 +14.0 $36,171,798

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