The Twelve Days of Box Office: Day Five

By David Mumpower

December 26, 2012

Still better than Newsies.

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Yesterday was Christmas and Hollywood gave us all the gift of new products, three to be precise. Les Miserables, Django Unchained and Parental Guidance all debuted on Christmas, and at least one of them is being spelled correctly on Twitter most of the time. I am speaking of course of Les Mis, which sounds like a Girlfriend Films release but isn’t. Still, it had spectacular debut, becoming the number one film in North America.

Les Miserables debuted to $18.2 million worth of box office, much of it from consumers wondering, “Are they ever going to stop singing?” I recognize that the cinematic adaptation of the Hollywood classic has been largely well reviewed but I cannot ignore the glut of complaints on my social feeds regarding the sheer volume of singing. To these people, I ask, “What did you expect?” But I digress.

Let’s talk numbers. If you have ever read a previous iteration of Twelve Days of Box Office, you know that Christmas Day is ordinarily the best box office day of the season if not the year. If there is any question regarding this point, please consider that combined revenue for the box office top ten yesterday was $68.4 million. And it was a Tuesday.


Those of you who are good at math will notice that roughly a quarter of overall top ten revenue on Christmas was accrued by Les Miserables. This is great news for any movie, much less one with a $61 million production outlay. Before anyone gets too excited, please let me remind you of the rules for Christmas openers. The first day is always the best. Since consumers have ample free time to watch what they want, there is no cause to wait.

Consider a few recent examples. The primary new release on the holiday in 2011, War Horse, debuted to $7.5 million. Its final domestic take was $79.9 million; ergo, 9.4% of its total domestic revenue occurred on its first day. In 2009, several major titles entered the marketplace on Christmas Day. Marley & Me garnered 10% of its final gross that day, Bedtime Stories attained 9.6% and Valkyrie had the largest skew at 10.2%.

Before you argue that Les Miserables should perform differently because it is a major awards contender, let me remind you of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Brad Pitt movie debuted to $11.9 million before finishing with a North American take of $127.5 million. Despite its leggy performance in February due to awards recognition, Benjamin Button still earned 9.3% of its money on opening day. This exemplifies how many consumers head to theaters on Christmas.

And we have now reached the annual moment wherein I remind you in the December 26th box office analysis of the most skewed Christmas Day release ever. Ali exploded into theaters with a fantastic (for 2001) $10.2 million. It earned only $48.0 million from that point forward. Yes, 17.6% of its entire domestic performance occurred on Christmas Day. This is a cautionary tale for every title in release.

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