Museum Repeats Again at Number One

Weekend Wrap-Up for January 5-7, 2007

By John Hamann

January 7, 2007

What do you mean, I'm not the next James Bond?

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The first weekend of 2007 brought two small surprises at the box office, both from a small amount of venues. Hillary Swank's Freedom Writers got off to an admirable start this weekend, as did the well-reviewed Children of Men, Universal's futuristic tale starring Clive Owen. Other new releases didn't fare very well. Lionsgate's Happily N'Ever After got off to a below average start, and Cedric The Entertainer's Code Name: The Cleaner crashed and burned. The winners again this weekend are Night at the Museum and The Pursuit of Happyness, as Ben Stiller and Will Smith's holiday-season family flicks continue to roll through the New Year.

The number one film for the third consecutive weekend is Night at the Museum, the 20th Century Fox release that refuses to falter. Night at the Museum grossed another $24 million from 3,730 venues this weekend, giving it a venue average of $6,434, and a drop from last weekend's holiday frame of 35%. While the drop may seem a tad high, remember that last weekend was the post-Christmas frame, and this weekend dealt with kids heading back to school on Monday. Night at the Museum has followed the Cast Away trend quite closely. Both films had Christmas and New Year's Eves fall on a Sunday and both saw an increase from the Christmas weekend to the New Year's weekend. In Cast Away's third weekend, the Tom Hanks film earned about $22 million, and dropped 28% - not far off that of Night at the Museum.

Night at the Museum should have no problem reaching the $200 million plateau as it currently sits with $164.1 million. My estimate for a landing spot for Museum is around $225 million – but that won't make it Ben Stiller's biggest film. Another Ben Stiller Christmas release - Meet the Fockers , which finished with a domestic total of $279 million - will retain that title. Next up for Stiller is the as yet untitled film that reunites him with his There's Something About Mary directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly.


Finishing second is the holiday season's perpetual runner-up – Will Smith and his Pursuit of Happyness. The Sony flick had another excellent weekend in its third frame, earning $13 million from 3,027 venues. It had an average of $4,295 and was off only 33% from last weekend. This feel-good movie has obviously struck a chord with audiences and is receiving excellent word-of-mouth. It already sits with $124.2 million in the domestic kitty, and I expect another $45 million is still to come.

Landing in third is an expanding release that had previously received an excellent location average in only a few theaters. Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men is a better-than-expected third place finisher. Released to only 1,209 venues, the Clive Owen film earned $10.3 million in its first weekend of wide release, good for an outstanding venue average of $8,511. Children of Men is the futuristic story of man trying to save a pregnant mother, and audiences obviously responded to the fantastic word-of-mouth this one got from its limited release last weekend. Reviews for Children of Men were also excellent. At RottenTomatoes, 141 reviewers chimed in, and an amazing 131 of them liked it enough to give it a positive rating. That results in a fresh rating of 93% - one of the better ratings of the year - which means this one may have legs for quite awhile. There's something here for everyone: Science fiction, drama, action and romance.

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