The Twelve Days of Box Office

By David Mumpower

December 27, 2011

Way to ruin Christmas again!

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All the little (and not so little) girls and boys in North America open their presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but the movie industry celebrates on December 26th. Historically, this is one of the most lucrative box office dates on the calendar. 2011 proved to be no exception as 80% of the top ten experienced a box office increase from 2010. And those same eight films in the top all had their largest single day gross of the Friday-Sunday period.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol finished in first place for the sixth consecutive day. Its $16.7 million performance on Monday is impressive in and of itself. Still, I want to put the number in perspective. On Saturday, ostensibly the best box office day each week, MI4 earned $6.2 million. This circles back to our previous comments regarding the Twelve Days of Box Office. Independent of the day of the week Christmas Eve falls upon, the behavior remains the same. North Americans treat this as a travel/celebration day with the net result being the box office deflation of all titles in release. On Christmas Day, box office rises to larger than ordinary levels. December 26th is regularly the peak box office of the December 20th-January 2nd period.


In the specific instance of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the action flick has demonstrated predictable behavior thus far. Upon its expansion last week, it set a level of $8.9 million for its daily revenue. On Thursday, there was a dip to $6.4 million before resurging to $9.7 million last Friday. Then, it fell to $6.2 million on the negative box office day of Christmas Eve before attaining $13.6 million on Sunday. That was the title’s best day of revenue thus far, but yesterday’s $16.7 million usurped that title by 23%. The end result is that MI4 has gone from $17.1 million at the end of its IMAX-exclusive run last Tuesday to $78.6 million. With regards to the rest of the week, it should fluctuate with similar daily numbers to those from last Friday. The same is true of the other major titles in release.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows earned $10.8 million. This performance is its best since Saturday, December 17th, its second day in theaters. Even more impressively, it is more than last Friday and Saturday’s combined revenue of $10.6 million ($6.75 million on Friday and $3.89 million on Saturday). Sherlock Holmes increased 11.7% from Sunday to Monday, remarkably one of the smallest gains in the top 10 for the day (remember that growth is harder for titles with larger revenue).

One of the two titles in the top ten to drop from Sunday to Monday was War Horse. It fell from $7.5 million on Sunday to $7.0 million on Monday. Note that it had an excuse as we discussed last week. Almost every title released during the Twelve Days of Box Office falls on its second day in release. I would not have been shocked if War Horse had avoided this fate since December 26th is such a popular box office day, but this moderate decline is the expected outcome. With $14.5 million in the bank after two days, War Horse is doing quite well but its final box office fate is yet to be determined.

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