The Twelve Days of Box Office: Day Nine
By John Hamann
December 30, 2012
Imagine a table of studio executives looking at a calendar, opened to the Twelve Days of Christmas Box Office. Now imagine all of them wringing their hands and crying, “My Precious”.
The big earnings from the Twelve Days of Box Office become very apparent today, as we get to compare late December opening weekends with their follow up frames, and get a better look at how films that opened on Christmas Day stack up against weekend competition. As Tim Briody said yesterday, this is the money train.
I will say it now: This is not a normal weekend at the box office. There were days off for kids and parents on Friday, with some parents going back to work on Monday, but most kids having next week off. Often in this column, we talk about weekend multipliers (weekend gross divided by Friday gross), but because of the holidays and the way the calendar is configured this year, this Friday-to-Sunday portion of the 12 Days of Box Office every multiplier should be tuned to 3.0, as every day is like a Saturday. Normally, kids' films would see higher multipliers, as they would be in school on Friday (thus reducing the first day take), and free to attend during the day on Sunday. Take a film like Rango, for example. It opened on a Friday in March to $9.6 million, but then increased its take on Saturday by 73%, to $16.6 million. Because of how that weekend was structured, its opening weekend multiplier was 3.96. This weekend, numbers are flatter. A film like Monsters, Inc. won’t jump as much on Saturday and Sunday.
With that in mind, it is a very close race to the top of the weekend box office. The Hobbit, Django Unchained and Les Miserables all had very solid Friday numbers, all within $1.7 million of each other. Normally, The Hobbit would be the easy winner of the weekend, as the kid multiplier would work the weekend in its favor. But again, it’s not a normal weekend. This is box office on steroids.
The Hobbit is the number one film of the weekend – its third straight number one finish - but is closer than it has been thanks to our strong Christmas openers. Already in its third weekend, The Hobbit earned $32.9 million and dropped 11% from the $36.9 million it earned last weekend. The question to ask now is whether the result is good enough. The Hobbit crossed the $200 million mark on Friday, its 15th day.
This is faster than The Fellowship of the Ring, the Lord of the Rings film that had a similar calendar configuration to The Hobbit. Fellowship took 19 days to hit $200 million, but A) opened on a Wednesday; B) opened 11 years ago (hello, inflation); and C) wasn’t released in 3D or IMAX. Fellowship was also the slowest Lord of the Rings film to earn $200 million, as Two Towers earned the same amount in 12 days, and Return of the King in 11 days. To add some perspective, Skyfall also earned $200 million in 15 days, and did not have the holiday season to aid its gain.
From Friday the 21st to Friday the 28th, The Hobbit averaged $10.9 million over those eight days, almost exactly what it earned on the eighth day. It still has nine more days before kids go back to school, and while the average will drop somewhat with adults back to work next week, it should hold around the $8.5 to $9 million mark. What it shows is how lucrative the holiday season can be, as The Hobbit will earn around $150 million over that 17 day period. There is no other two week period at the box office that has that kind of power.