Little Fockers Grits Out Victory
By David Mumpower
December 26, 2010
Christmas week is among the most lucrative weeks on the box office calendar and 2010 has been no exception. Since Wednesday, three new movies have entered the marketplace while two others have expanded into wide release. All five of these titles did well on their own merits, but the winner has proven to be the latest release about the Focker family. How festive.
Six years after the release of Meet the Fockers, arguably the most popular comedy in modern box office history, Universal Pictures has released its sequel, Little Fockers. That movie finished in first place over the Christmas holiday weekend with an estimated $34.0 million, which raises the threequel's five-day box office total to $48.3 million. For those of you reading the Twelve Days of Box Office columns here at BOP, that total is a few million higher than expected, a good sign for all involved. For those of you who are primarily interested in comparisons to Meet the Fockers, the news is less positive. That movie earned $70.5 million over the same five-day time frame including $46.1 million during its opening weekend. In other words, Meet the Fockers managed in three days what Little Fockers needed five days to accomplish.
What we can take from the above is the obvious. Little Fockers was highly unlikely to approach the pace of its predecessor. A five-day total that is just over two thirds of Meet the Fockers is a solid follow-up. The measurables aren't great by any stretch. The weekend per-venue average of $9,620 isn't that exciting even if we factor out the negative impact of Christmas Eve falling on a Friday. Still, a $48.3 million five-day holiday performance for a title with a $100 million production budget is more than respectable. By this time next week, Little Fockers will have earned back its budget despite some of the worst reviews of the year. The film currently sits at 11% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes with 4% of top critics enjoying it. Yes, this means that 24 out of each 25 respected critics hate the movie. And it's still going to be one of the biggest hits of the season. There is no clearer way to identify a much beloved franchise than this.
The real winner of Christmas week technically finishes in second place for the weekend. True Grit, the Coen Brothers re-make of the movie that won John Wayne his only Academy Award, is hitting on all cylinders right now. The recipient of rapturous reviews and multiple end of year awards, True Grit has become a first for the Coens, a bona fide box office blockbuster. The movie earned $25.6 million over the weekend and has a running total of $36.8 million after five days.
To put this performance into perspective, consider that only four previous Coen Brothers movies have earned a larger total. The quickest prior release of theirs to $36.8 million, Burn After Reading, needed 11 days. Their overall most lucrative domestic performer, No Country for Old Men, did not reach $36.8 million until it had been in theaters for 45 days. True Grit is absolutely scorching those performances and could feasibly be the most popular Coen Brothers movie by the first week of January. This will be their first $100 million blockbuster, a long overdue achievement.
Third place this weekend goes to Tron Legacy, which fell 54% to $20.1 million. The Disney release has a running total of $88.3 million after 10 days in release. Factoring in the discussion above, this is a very good week to be Jeff Bridges. The Dude has two of the top three movies during the most lucrative period on the box office calendar. Those twin titles earned $45.7 million in three days as well as $81.1 million this week with True Grit only being in release five out of the seven days of Christmas week. Jeff Bridges just had an Avatar-like December box office week. And the next week will be as good if not better.