Krampus Breathes Life into Post-Turkey Frame
By John Hamann
December 6, 2015
The monster called Krampus may be truly evil and eat little kids, but at least it brings some life into the usually very sullen post-Thanksgiving weekend frame at the box office.
When was the last time a new release was #1 at the box office over the post-Thanksgiving Day frame, even for a day? It was a dozen years ago in 2003, when Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai earned only $24.3 million over its opening weekend, against a $140 million budget (it went on to find a profit theatrically thanks to a $480 million worldwide gross). Since then, studios have laid low over the post-turkey frame, either releasing low-risk films or dumping product, hoping their garbage will cash in over Christmas. This weekend's new film is Krampus, which peaks on Friday but doesn't hit number one. Still, it does provide us with something we don't usually see during the post-Thanksgiving date on the calendar - success. We also get the massive pullback for holdovers this weekend, as movies try to survive, so they can position themselves for the lucrative Christmas season.
The top film this weekend is almost Krampus, but not quite, as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 enjoys the last frame a Hunger Games film will finish at #1. After a three-day Thanksgiving frame that brought a massive $52 million, Katniss and friends are pushed down hard this frame. Mockingjay Part 2 earned $18.6 million off a nasty 64%, but really on par with other post-turkey frames. Last year, Mockingjay Part 1 earned $57 million over the long weekend and then fell 61% the following weekend, earning $22 million. This also shows how Part 2 continues to lag against Part 1 and begs the question as to whether Part 2 will make it to $300 million. My money is on no - the domestic total stands at $227.1 million, and Star Wars is likely going to eat it alive.
It is unfortunate that The Hunger Games franchise is going to go out somewhat softer than the franchise started. The series peaked with Catching Fire and its $425 million domestic gross and $440 million overseas gross. Mockingjay Part 1 brought the series back to earth somewhat, with $337 million domestic and $418 million overseas. Part 2 is not going to match either of those numbers, as it has $227.1 million domestic and $297 from international venues. Still, the series is going to earn almost $1.5 billion domestically over the four parts and average a $350 million finish. Not bad for an out-of-nowhere franchise.
Second this weekend is Krampus, the holiday-themed horror film. This is an interesting experiment from Universal and Legendary Films, as Christmas-themed horror is about as rare as an Easter-themed horror movie - they just don't happen. 2010 cult hit Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale changed that when the Finnish film found an audience through VOD and became a success. A few years later brings Krampus, a film that I consider to be a $15 million experiment, hoping to cash in on the memories of Gremlins, which opened to $12.5 million and went on to earn a staggering $150 million in 1984 dollars. Thirty years later, Krampus is less a family film and more of a teen film, keeping the PG-13 rating, but with a much darker 2015 look. Universal managed to roll out an effective marketing campaign, and the experiment worked.