The Top 50 Box Office Performances of 2007

on Monday, December 31, 2007   1 comments

     2007 was a great year at the movies, for the industry earned an annual box office revenue of $9.64 billion, up a solid 4.2% over last year's $9.21 billion.  It should be noted, though, that movie attendance was up just .08%, and ticket sales increased from 1.407 billion to 1.408 billion.  This means that tickets were purchased for an average price of $6.85 in 2007, and the primary factor in the increase in box office revenue is ticket price inflation.  By the way, if you account for inflation, 1937's Gone With The Wind earned an equivalent $1.4 billion, making it the highest grossing movie of all time! Fast forwarding 70 years, some movies are still having great performances, so here's a list of 2007's Top 50 movies, along with a few of my own noteworthy items.

Biggest Weekend of 2007
Spider-Man 3 - $151 million
     The third (and definitely not final) installment in the Spider-Man franchise had a stunning opening weekend back in May with $151 million. It crushed 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's $135 million frame, which had consequently beaten the $114 million record set in 2002 by the original Spider-Man. However, while Spider-Man 3 had the biggest franchise opening, its lackluster quality (don't even talk about emo-Spider-Man...) forced it to earn just $336 million, the lowest total of any of the movies (Spider-Man earned $403 million and Spider-Man 2 earned $373 million). Still, its opening weekend is the stuff of history- it had the biggest Friday, Saturday, and Sunday ever!

Best Legs of 2007
Knocked Up - $30 Million Opening - $148 Million Finish
     Judd Apatow's pregnancy comedy came out of nowhere this Summer to become one of the biggest hits of the year. With no stars, and a (formerly) "unmarketable" concept, Knocked Up opened to a good $30 million o the strength of Apatow's name alone. After its opening, Knocked Up continued to perform strongly, and for seven straight weeks it dropped an average of just 30%, helping the comedy spend a marvelous eight weeks in the Top 10. By the time it finished in September, Knocked Up had grossed $148 million, confirming that the raunchy (but sweet) sex comedy is the most popular type of American comedy today.

Best Overall Performance Of 2007
Transformers - $319 million
     As much as I don't want to give director Michael Bay any credit, his Transformers had an incredibly strong run at the box office this year. After a massive launch in over 4,000 theaters, Transformers exploded onto the scene with $70 million dollars. Young males came to the theaters in droves to see unbelievable special effects, sleek action sequences, and Megan Fox in the desert heat. In each week after its debut, the robot actionfest saw drops of less than 50%, which is almost unbelievable for this kind of blockbuster, and Transformers finished with $319 million. With no predecessor buzz to fall back on, and with virtually no stars to tout, Transformers' franchise-launching performance far outshadows the disappointing May Threequels. In fact, it even beat Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Movie I Most Wish Was In The Top 50
Once - $9.8 million
     Once is a small, independent, Irish musical that blew up at Sundance, earned outstanding reviews, and went on to find some pretty good box office this Summer in limited release. Once was made for just $150,000, but you are so caught up in the touchingly beautiful story, you never think about what it cost to make. The film follows a struggling, Irish street musician who meets a woman from the Czech Republic. Together, the two play and record music as they fall in love, but Once does not end in the typical saccharine show-stopper scene like most musicals. Gorgeously honest and non-conventional, Once stands apart during a time of overbudgeted films with under-developed characters, and since the main character is a musician, the music is incorporated into the story in a unique, refreshing way. It just came out on DVD, so go see it!

     And now, without further ado, here are the 50 biggest hits of the past 365 days.  What do you think of the list?  Any movies you wish were/weren't there?  Write them in the Comments section below.

2007's 50 Biggest Box Office Performers
# Movie Title Total Gross Distributor
1 Spider-Man 3 $336,530,303 Sony
2 Shrek The Third $321,012,359 Paramount/Dreamworks
3 Transformers $319,071,806 Paramount/Dreamworks
4 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $309,420,425 Disney
5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $292,004,738 Warner Bros.
6 The Bourne Ultimatum $227,471,070 Universal
7 300 $210,614,939 Warner Bros.
8 Ratatouille $206,445,654 Disney
9 I Am Legend $194,575,000
Warner Bros.
10 The Simpsons Movie $183,135,014 Fox
11 Wild Hogs $168,273,550 Disney
12 Knocked Up $148,761,765 Universal
13 Alvin and the Chipmunks
$142,375,000
New Line
14 Rush Hour 3
$140,125,968 Fox
15 Live Free Or Die Hard $134,529,403 Fox
16 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer $131,921,738 Fox
17 American Gangster
$128,724,010 Universal
18 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $124,035,000
Disney
19 Bee Movie $123,576,570 Paramount/Dreamworks
20 Superbad $121,463,226 Sony
21 I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry $119,725,280 Universal
22 Hairspray $118,871,849 New Line
23 Blades of Glory $118,245,842 Paramount/Dreamworks
24 Ocean’s Thirteen $117,154,724 Warner Bros.
25 Ghost Rider $115,802,596 Fox
26 Enchanted $110,650,000 Disney
27 Evan Almighty $100,289,690Universal
28 Meet the Robinsons $97,822,171 Disney
29 Norbit $95,360,247 Paramount/Dreamworks
30 The Game Plan $88,649,123 Disney
31 Bridge to Terabithia $82,272,442 Disney
32 Beowulf $80,778,577
Paramount
33 Disturbia $80,106,701 Paramount/Dreamworks
34 1408 $71,977,957 MGM
35 Fred Claus $71,102,297 Warner Bros.
36 Saw IV $63,300,095 Lions Gate Films
37 Stomp The Yard $61,356,221 ScreenGems
38 Surf's Up $58,867,694 Sony
39 Halloween
$58,269,151 MGM
40 The Golden Compass $58,000,000 New Line
41 Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? $55,204,525 Lions Gate Films
42 TMNT $54,149,098 Warner Bros.
43 3:10 to Yuma $53,606,916 Lions Gate Films
44 Resident Evil: Extinction $50,648,679 ScreenGems
45 Music and Lyrics $50,572,589 Warner Bros.
46 Are We Done Yet? $49,631,958 Sony
47 This Christmas $48,952,000 ScreenGems
48 Premonition $47,852,604 Sony
49 The Kingdom $47,467,250 Universal
50 Shooter $47,003,581 Paramount
Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

     Thanks for reading The Box Office Junkie.  The name is really getting out there, and I appreciate your help in making it the success it will one day be.  2007's been great, and I know 2008 will be even better.  Have a great new year!

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Weekend Fix: Alvin Could Beat Out National Treasure...

on Sunday, December 30, 2007   0 comments

     The last weekend of 2007 proved to be a great one at the movies, and a diverse offering of films helped propel the box office to lucrative heights.  This weekend, the Top 12 grossed a grossed a phenomenal $168.7 million, which represents an 11% increase over last weekend, and a whopping 17% increase over the same weekend last year.  The amazing holiday season has completely wiped out the bad taste left by the Fall's weak offerings.  Thankfully, the Winter season has redeemed the terrible box office declines of the September, October, and November, in which only The Game Plan, Enchanted, and American Gangster could be seen as real successes.  While, the top film this weekend was kind of a given, the real story is the unbelievable success of the film in second place.

     National Treasure: Book of Secrets again topped the box office this weekend.  The Disney adventure picture found another $35.6 million this weekend, representing a 20% drop from a week ago.  While this is probably a bit larger than the Disney execs would like to see, it was somewhat expected given that the film was a sequel.  Sequels normally open larger and drop more quickly than their predecessors, and this holds true for Book of Secrets as well.  You see, normally 20% is a tiny drop, but given the holiday season and the family nature of the film, it's a bit large.  Still, the Nicholas Cage film (actually, I prefer to think of it as a Justin Bartha [pictured above] film- he's infinitely more entertaining as second banana, Riley) is doing very well, and with a great $9,299 per theater average, it should keep playing for many weeks to come.  After ten days, National Treasure: Book of Secrets has earned $124 million.
     As I said, the real story of the weekend is the second placed film, Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Now in it's third weekend, the adaptation of the popular 60's cartoons has been unstoppable at the box office.  After a stunning $44.3 million opening, it fell a small 35% to $28.1 million, and this weekend, the CGI chipmunk film increased 6% to $30 million.  For a movie with such awful reviews, its performance is fairly surprising, but the Fox film was marketed well, and it firmly established itself as the first holiday offering for families of young children.  With a running total of $142.4 million, the question now is: Can Alvin and the Chipmunks outgross National Treasure?  Based on its per venue average of $8,611, a long theater run and a $200 million gross seem entirely attainable, but you'll have to stay posted to see just how far it can go.
     Will Smith holds onto the third place spot with I Am Legend.  The vampire/zombie/apocalyptic action thriller dropped 18% to $27.5 million this weekend.  I Am Legend has been making Sony very happy for three weeks now, and after just 17 days, it already ranks as the 9th most successful film of 2007 (Check back tomorrow for 2007's Top 50).  Based on its $7,570 venue average, it looks like I Am Legend has enough steam left in it to surpass Men In Black's $250 million gross and become Smith's highest grossing film in ten years.  So far, it's earned a box-office saving $194.6 million.
     Charlie Wilson's War performed better than last weekend, increasing 7% to $11.8 million over the last three days.  Fantastic reviews, along with some good old-fashioned movie stars in Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts are keeping this picture going.  Since it has a much more adult audience, it's guaranteed to have pretty good legs at the box office, for adults don't rush out to the theaters to see films like teenagers do, and it might end up a rather solid performer.  Its per theater average of $4,570 is still not great, but it's better than last week, and with a little awards attention, it should go much further.  After ten days, Universal's Charlie Wilson's War has made $34.5 million.
     In fifth place is Juno, the movie that audiences love to love.  Out of just 998 theaters, Juno earned a fantastic $10.3 million, giving it the best venue average in the Top 12 with a stunning $10,321.   Trendier and more marketable than Little Miss Sunshine ever was, the teen pregnancy comedy has caught on, and it is one of the few films I can remember that actually outperforms its own buzz.  Screenwriter Diablo Cody has received major attention for the screenplay and leading actress Ellen Page is almost guaranteed a few awards for her work.  With a miniscule budget, a great cast, a killer soundtrack, and endlessly positive word of mouth, Juno should keep making Fox Searchlight very, very happy.  It has earned an incredible $25.7 million after four weekends.
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem couldn't crack the Top 5 in its opening weekend, earning $10 million.  Earlier this week, AVP:R earned $9.5 million on just its first day, so this figure is nothing to get excited about.  Neither is the low $3,849 per theater average.  Expect the sci-fi actionfest to keep crumbling very quickly from here, for unlike Charlie Wilson's War, this has a very young audience who all rush to see the film as soon as they can.  After 6 days, the Fox movie has made $26.7 million.
     The Water Horse continued to perform poorly, earning a small $9.2 million in its first weekend.  I couldn't imagine a less exciting ad campaign that The Water Horse's, and audiences have met the film with a resounding blah.  When it comes to the box office, slow and steady doesn't win the race.  With a bad per theater average of $3,319, Sony's fantasy flick has earned a sad $16.8 million.
     For no apparent reason, P.S. I Love You surged a great 40% this weekend to $9 million.  The poorly reviewed Hilary Swank romantic comedy from Warner Brothers earned a bad $6.5 million last weekend, but it did well for itself over the past few days.  It still had a low venue average of $3,693, but it can probably make it to $40 million by the end of its run.  So far, P.S. I Love You has earned $23.4 million.
     Sweeney Todd fell 14% to $8 million this weekend for ninth place.  Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's dreary musical does not have the mass playability of Hairspray or Chicago, but it's done marginally well for itself.  With some awards attention, it could go pretty far.  Still only playing in 1,249 theaters, Sweeney Todd had a solid $6,405 per theater average, so it'll stick around for a while.  Thus far, the Paramount/Dreamworks musical has bagged $26.7 million.
     Showing the greatest staying power of any film in the Top 12, Enchanted lost 490 theaters this weekend, but still increased a whopping 54% for a $6.5 million weekend.  The Disney comedy starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Susan Sarandon had a per theater average of $2,874, which is fantastic for a film in its sixth weekend.  So far the magical blockbuster has conjured up a terrific $110.7 million.
     MGM and Oprah's The Great Debaters played pretty well out of just 1,171 theaters.  The well reviewed debating movie starring Denzel Washington earned $6.3 million, which is pretty good for a relatively unknown movie.  It had a pretty good $5,383 venue average, but it will need a lot of awards buzz to really qualify as a success.  So far, The Great Debaters has made $13.6 million in six days.
     The Golden Compass held on for one last weekend in the Top 12, with just $4.3 million.  The expensive New Line failure dropped 1,018 theaters going into the weekend, and with a bad $2,248 per theater average, it will drop the rest fairly quickly.  (Note to Hollywood: Do not put Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in the same movie- it will fail.  Earlier this year, those two led $80 million production The Invasion to a measly $15 million finish.)  After four weekends, The Golden Compass has pulled in only $58 million.

Top 12 for December 28-30
#Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $35,632,000 $124,035,000
2 Alvin and the Chipmunks $30,000,000 $142,374,569
3 I Am Legend $27,525,000 $194,600,000
4 Charlie Wilson's War $11,767,750 $34,506,180
5 Juno $10,300,000 $25,681,218
6 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $10,050,000 $26,880,017
7 The Water Horse $9,200,000 $16,821,000
8 P.S. I Love You $9,100,000 $23,398,000
9 Sweeney Todd $8,000,000 $26,719,000
10 Enchanted $6,500,000 $110,650,000
11 The Great Debaters $6,304,000 $13,548,000
12 The Golden Compass $4,350,000 $58,000,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

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Friday Estimates: Treasure Tops Charts, Predator Becomes Prey

on Saturday, December 29, 2007   0 comments

     Friday numbers are in, and the box office is thriving.  We're headed for some very solid weekend totals based on these Friday results, and many holdovers will see increases in their weekend-to-weekend grosses.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets should hold onto the top spot this weekend, with a Friday gross of $12.2 million.  I saw this movie last night, and it was one of the silliest, stupidest, most preposterous, wildly entertaining movies I have seen in quite some time.  (Thank goodness Justin Bartha's comic timing balances out Cage's ridiculous maxims...) I let go of all my movie-buff pretentiousness, leaned back in my seat, and had a wonderful time.  It's certainly family friendly enough to keep pulling in families, and it has the Disney brand name, so it should have a pretty good weekend multiplier.  Book of Secrets looks headed for a $40 weekend.
     Alvin and the Chipmunks flexed its box office muscle last night, holding off I Am Legend for the second place spot.  With $10.4 million, Alvin increased a great 24% from last Friday, while I Am Legend fell a small 16% to $9.2 million.  Fox's rodent comedy should finish the weekend with about $33 million, and Warner Brothers' sci-fi thriller might pull in $28 million.
     Also increasing from last weekend, Charlie Wilson's War pulled in a solid $3.9 million, and with a probable $11 million weekend, the Universal political dramedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts is on its way to redeeming its slow start.
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem lost some major steam going into the weekend, placing fifth on Friday with $3.4 million.  It appears that the fanboys really did all see AVP:R on opening night, so this should have a pretty bad holiday multiplier.  Look for just over $9 million this weekend.
     Juno will pass the aforementioned alien thriller by the end of the weekend.  After earning $3.3 million on Friday, the Ellen Page comedy should earn about $10 million over three days.
     The Water Horse continued to behave exactly like the legend of the Loch Ness monster- except for a few witnesses, no one has seen it.  With $3.2 million on Friday, it could earn just under $10 million over the weekend, giving it a small $20 million overall.
     Among the rest of the films, P.S. I Love You did better than last weekend, with $3 million on Friday.  Sweeney Todd revealed some of its front-loadedness with an alright $2.7 million.  And The Great Debaters pulled in a small $2 million (though Enchanted did better with $2.3 million).

Friday Estimates for December 28
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $12.2 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $10.4 million
3. I Am Legend - $9.2 million
4. Charlie Wilson's War - $3.9 million
5. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem - $3.4 million
6. Juno - $3.3 million
7. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep - $3.2 million
8. P.S. I Love You - $3 million
9. Sweeney Todd - $2.7 million
10. Enchanted - $2.3 million
11. The Great Debaters - $2 million
12. The Golden Compass - $1.5 million

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Weekend Preview: Treasure, Legend, Alvin Look To Lead Again

on Friday, December 28, 2007   0 comments

     In the last weekend of 2007, the box office is primed for a highly lucrative three days.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets will continue its dominance atop the charts, and the box office rankings should look extremely similar to the Christmas day charts since no new movies open on Friday.  The lack of Friday openers is not a problem though- in the last ten days, nine movies have gone wide, so there will still be abundant business at the multiplex.

     All of the returning films should hold almost exactly where they performed last weekend, and a few might even see a bump in their weekend grosses.  National Treasure has got the top spot in the bag.  A $42 million weekend would give the Disney film a great $130 million overall.  Alvin and the Chipmunks (which just keeps making money!) and I Am Legend will be neck and neck for second place, each of them earning about $28 million, for totals of $140 million and $195 million, respectively.
     Among the newcomers, Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem should do the best.  The gory extra-terrestrial thriller was slaughtered by critics, but that didn't stop super-enthusiastic fanboys from rushing out to see it on opening night.  On Tuesday, AVP:R opened with a terrific $9.5 million.  But then it crumbled to $4.4 million on Wednesday, and then all the way down to $2.9 million on Thursday,  This is a textbook case of a front-loaded geek movie, which starts strong and then falls fast.  The next three days will probably be smaller than AVP:R's first three days, and the Fox film should earn about $13 million, for a $30 million total.
     Teen pregnancy comedy, Juno, has done wonderfully for itself, and it has been picking up steam as it continues to expand.  Audiences love this movie.  This week, it added $9 million to its overall total gross for a sweet $15.4 million total, and it should add another $8-9 million this weekend, which would give the indie Fox Searchlight film a fabulous $23 million total.
     Walden Media and Sony's, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep had an underwhelming opening week, earning just $7.6 million.  Judging by the ads, the children's fantasy did look quite bland, but the reviews are actually very good.  Nonetheless, it should continue to perform disappointingly, and The Water Horse will pull in about $8 million for the weekend.
     The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington's Oscar bait, has earned $7.2 million this week, with half of that total coming from its Christmas day gross.  While this is good for the small film, it appears that this film might be a bit front-loaded as well, which leaves me asking, could Oprah have fanboys?!  Reviews are good, but excitement is low for The Great Debaters, and it might rack up about $6.5 million.

Predicted Top 12 for December 28-30
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $42 million
2. I Am Legend - $28 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $27.5 million
4. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem - $13 million
5. Charlie Wilson's War - $10 million
6. Juno - $8.5 million
7. The Water Horse - $8 million
8. Sweeney Todd - $8 million
9. P.S. I Love You - $7.5 million
10. The Great Debaters - $6.5 million
11. Enchanted - $6 million
12. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - $4 million

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Christmas Grosses and The 5-Day Weekend

on Wednesday, December 26, 2007   0 comments

     You may not realize it, but each year, Christmas Day is one of the biggest box office days of the year.  Millions of North Americans flood into movie theaters after celebrating Christmas in the morning, and movies do quite well for themselves.  This Christmas was no exception.  This year, the Top 12 films earned a combined $62.7 million, which almost equals the entire weekend Top 12 from a few weeks ago!  The fact that Christmas Day is so huge at the movies always surprises me, because until I started following the box office a few years ago, I thought no one left their house on Christmas, but this is certainly not the case.  In fact, this was the biggest Christmas day box office in history!  National Treasure: Book of Secrets  captured the third best Christmas Day gross ever, and I Am Legend continued to dominate, while Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem had a great opening day as well:

Top 12 for Christmas Day
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $13.7 million
2. I Am Legend - $9.8 million
3. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem - $9.5 million
4. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $6 million
5. Charlie Wilson's War - $4.3 million
6. The Great Debaters - $3.6 million
7. Sweeney Todd - $3.2 million
8. P.S. I Love You - $3.9 million
9. Juno - $2.8 million
10. The Water Horse - $2.4 million
11. The Golden Compass - $2 million
12. Walk Hard - $1.5 million

     Now, onto the five-day weekend.  As I've said, during the holidays, every day is pretty much part of the weekend, and all movies see incredible bumps in their grosses.  Still, for whatever reason, the five-day weekend is still a figure that box office analysts love to look at.  Thus, I've put together this chart of the Top 20 earners for the past five days.  The box office looks 100% different than it did two weeks ago, proving that there truly is no other time at the movies like late December.

Top 20 for December 21-25
# Movie Title 5-Day Weekend Total
1 National Treasure: Book of Secrets $65.4 million $65.4 million
2 I Am Legend $47.7 million $151 million
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks $38.6 million $94.5 million
4 Charlie Wilson's War $16 million $16 million
5 Sweeney Todd $13.6 million $13.6 million
6 P.S. I Love You $10 million $10 million
7 Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem $9.5 million $9.5 million
8 The Golden Compass $7 million $51.4 million
9 Juno $6.8 million $9.8 million
10 Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story $6.3 million $6.3 million
11 Enchanted $6.2 million $100.4 million
12 The Great Debaters $3.6 million $3.6 million
13 Atonement $2.9 million $6.7 million
14 No Country For Old Men $2.8 million $37.8 million
15 The Water Horse $2.4 million $2.4 million
16 The Kite Runner $2 million $2.7 million
17 The Perfect Holiday $1.3 million $4.9 million
18 This Christmas $1.3 million $48.2 million
19 Fred Claus $1.2 million $71 million
20 August Rush $0.6 million $29.7 million

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Christmas Preview: Four More Films Go Wide

on Monday, December 24, 2007   0 comments

     Welcome to today's Christmas Preview, which will be short and to the point (because hey, even box office analysts need some family time on Christmas Eve).  On Christmas Day, four films enter an already crowded marketplace, each hoping to carve out its own niche at the box office.
     Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is a sequel to 2004's $80 million hit Alien Vs. Predator.  Full of gore, blood, grisly deaths, blood, and gore, this gory bloodbath of a thriller was not screened for critics, which is never promising for its reviews, though it should still have the best opening week of the newcomers.  Any success it finds will be based solely on the success of the Alien and Predator franchises, since this has pretty much no star power.  AVP:R (that's the ridiculous, abbreviated title its going by) opens in 2,653 theaters, and if it performs well, it will obvi have anoth lame sequel, but whatev.  I'm thinking it can bag $17 million in the days before the weekend.
     The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, a Walden Media production, is the story of a young Scottish boy who discovers a strange water creature.  He befirends it and raises it up in his bathtub, until it becomes too large for him to keep in the house.  Forced to move it into the lake, the boy must try to keep the creature a secret as it grows into the Loch Ness monster.  The trailers are nice, though unexciting, but it should still have an alright box office run because of the lack of competition.  If Alvin and the Chipmunks can make $85 million in ten days, then there is certainly room for another, better reviewed film aimed at the under ten set.  In 2,772 theaters, The Water Horse might pull in $14 million over the next three days.
     The Great Debaters was a movie I hadn't heard of until it garnered a surprise Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture.  Produced by Oprah's production company, Harpo, The Great Debaters is an inspirational teacher drama starring Denzel Washington.  It chronicles the journey of Wiley College's all black debate team, and their fight to gain acceptance in an all white competition in the 1930's.  With good reviews, The Great Debaters can rely on Denzel's presence to draw in some crowds, but it will need some awards attention to transcend the expected box office for this rather generic story.  Opening in 1,164 venues, it could earn $6 million until the weekend.
     Juno, Fox Searchlight's popular teen pregnancy comedy (which I previously wrote about here) expands into 998 theaters on Christmas, and it should see some great returns.  Juno might take in an additional $8 million in the time before Friday.
     The rest of the movies' weekly totals should just about equal their previous weekend grosses, and this is where the power of holiday box office can be seen at work, and small opening numbers can be redeemed.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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Weekend Fix: National Treasure Lives Up To Its Name

on Sunday, December 23, 2007   0 comments

     Led by the solid opening of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the box office continued to perform strongly this weekend.  Despite the rather tepid debuts of some of the openers, I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks held well enough to sustain the overall box office.  During the December 21-23 frame, the Top 12 films earned a cumulative $153.5 million, up 1% from last weekend, and a great 41% from the same weekend last year, when Night At The Museum opened in the top spot.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets struck gold this weekend at the movies, getting off to a great start with $45.5 million in its debut.  The Disney adventure film blazed onto the scene in a huge 3,832 theaters, but it still racked up a very good $11,874 venue average.  Being a Disney film, Book of Secrets has a good deal of family playability, so it should remain a prominent force throughout the holiday season.  The original National Treasure opened in November, 2004 with $35 million, but held wonderfully through the holidays, eventually making a delightful $173 million.  This gave National Treasure a terrific 4.9 multiplier, and while Book of Secrets probably won't see such small drops (it had an internal multiplier of 2.7, which is low, but typical for sequels), it should still perform very solidly throughout the Winter season.  It should hit $100 million in a week or so, with much more to come in the new year.
     I Am Legend held up the second spot quite nicely, dropping 56% to $34.2 million for the weekend.  The Warner Brothers sci-fi thriller retained an incredible second weekend per theater average of $9,454, which proves its popularity among audiences and assures that it will retain its theater count.  I Am Legend should be Will Smith's biggest film since 1997's Men In Black, which grossed $250 million.  After ten days, I Am Legend has earned a great $137.5 million, well on its way to the $200 million club.
     Also dropping one spot from last weekend is Alvin and the Chipmunks.  The CGI rodent comedy continues to astound me with its phenomenal performance (just look at its reviews!), and this weekend it stole another $29 million from innocent families, which represents a small 35% drop.  The Fox comedy also retained a great venue average with $8,288 in each theater.  Alvin is doing a great job of filling the void left by The Golden Compass, and it is the go-to choice for families of the kindergarten set.  It has earned an amazing $84.9 million in two weekends.
     Charlie Wilson's War comes in fourth place this weekend, earning a rather small $9.6 million in its opening frame.  The Universal political comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts failed to effectively communicate its story in its advertising campaign.  It's war-themed nature didn't help either.  As I see it, people go to the movies for escapism, not to see more of the depressing stuff that's already on TV, and I'll say this until the day that I die: If you want your movie to succeed, show audiences that they will have FUN by seeing it.  Even with a small $3,735 per theater average, Charlie Wilson's War's performance is not a disaster.  During the holidays, weekend figures are not as important, and since no one has school or work, movies play well during the week as well, so if this film can build some significant awards buzz (and it boasts some good reviews), it could save itself.  We'll have to wait and see.     In fifth, Sweeney Todd sang its way to the tune of a $9.4 million opening.  Being a Tim Burton film, this comes with a built-in cult audience who rush out to see his films on opening night, and with a 2.4 internal multiplier, it had a very front-loaded weekend.  Playing in just 1,249 venues, Sweeney Todd grabbed a nice $7,486 per theater average.  Dreamworks' gory slasher musical (there's a first) has earned great reviews, and it should perform pretty well in the coming weeks.
     P.S. I Love You performed as expected, earning a modest $6.5 million in its opening weekend.  The Warner Brothers romantic comedy, which stars Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler , has a small per theater average of $2,651.  There was nothing that made this film stand out form the crowd, and it looked generic and sappy.  Once again we see that just because an actress wins an Oscar (or two in this case) doesn't mean she can open a film.
     In its fifth weekend, Enchanted displayed its staying power, dropping just 25% to $4.2 million.  The magical Disney comedy has done very well for itself, and after five weeks, it has earned a fantastic $98.5 million.
     The biggest shock of the weekend has to be the awful performance of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.  Walk Hard, a Sony film, flopped with a terrible $4.1 million opening.  Though it boasts great reviews, its advertising (which featured tremendously creative commercials of an older Dewey Cox) didn't give audiences a clear idea of what to expect.  Also, Judd Apatow, the producer of the spoof, may only have drawing power when it comes to what made him famous: the raunchy sex comedy.  With a very bad $1,547 per theater average, Walk Hard will unfortunately not last very long.
     New Line's The Golden Compass continued its utter free-fall this weekend, earning just $4 million, a 55% decrease.  This cold film has not caught on with audiences, who want to feel good during the holidays, and the hugely expensive fantasy film has earned just $48.4 million after three weekends.
     In tenth place, Juno continued to impress with a great $3.4 million out of just 304 theaters.  The teen pregnancy comedy has been surrounded by almost deafening buzz, and it is totally living up to it.  With a stunning $11,184 venue average, Juno has everything going for it, and it is catching on in a big way with audiences.  It's kind of wonderful to see a smart, fresh, independent comedy garner such massive amounts of interest, and when it goes wide on Christmas day, it should continue to perform very strongly.  So Juno it has made $6.4 million.
     Atonement, another film with tons of awards potential, had a good weekend as well.  Expanding into 297 theaters, the Focus feature earned $2 million, giving it a solid $6,648 per theater average.  With tons of awards on the way, it should do well over the next month.  So far, Atonement has grossed a strong $5.7 million.
     Back in twelfth, No Country For Old Men dropped 40% to $1.7 million.  The Miramax thriller, which is almost assured a Best Picture nomination, has grossed a smashing $36.7 million after seven weekends.
     Overall, though there were some dull openings, things remained bright at the box office this weekend.  It's important to keep in mind that opening weekends don't matter as much during the holiday season, so while some of the figures may be rather low, for the box office, the next two weeks are virtually an extended weekend, where movies do incredible business.

Top Twelve for December 21-23
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $45.5 million
2. I Am Legend - $34.2 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $29 million
4. Charlie Wilson's War - $9.6 million
5. Sweeney Todd - $9.4 million
6. P.S. I Love You - $6.5 million
7. Enchanted - $4.2 million
8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - $4.1 million
9. The Golden Compass - $4 million
10. Juno - $3.4 million
11. Atonement - $2 million
12. No Country For Old Men - $1.7 million
*All numbers courtesy of Exhibitor Relations

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Friday Estimates: Treasure Succeeds, Walk Hard Falls Hard

on Saturday, December 22, 2007   0 comments

     Friday numbers are in, and while the chart looks like it's turning out pretty close to the predictions in the Weekend Preview, there are two surprising disappointments: Walk Hard and Charlie Wilson's War.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets opened very well on Friday, pulling in $17.1 million.  With Christmas Eve on Monday, and most people (who don't work retail) out of work, it should see some inflated Sunday numbers and have a great multiplier.  It will be interesting to see whether this sequel is as leggy as its predecessor, and if it might ultimately beat I Am Legend in a race for the holiday crown.  For the weekend, Book of Secrets should find about $55 million .
     Sweeney Todd earned a solid $3.9 million from just 1,249 theaters, and a great per theater average should result.  It's on its way to about $13 million for the weekend.
     Charlie Wilson's War earned a small $2.8 million.  Looks like the trend of moviegoers rejecting war-themed, political movies continues with Charlie Wilson's War, and even with Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks as draws, it should make a disappointing $9 million for the weekend.
     P.S. I Love You opened within expectations, earning $2.4 million on its first day.  The sappy romantic comedy looks headed for an $8 million weekend.
     The biggest surprise of the weekend has to be Walk Hard's awful opening.  On its first day the spoof earned a tiny $1.5 million.  It appears that the movie truly was too smart for people to really understand that it was a comedy.   Also, while Walk Hard's advertising campaign has been remarkably innovative, it was perhaps too difficult for the average person to get the joke.  It will struggle to earn $5 million.

Friday Estimates for December 21
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $17.1 million
2. I Am Legend - $11 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $8.5 million
4. Sweeney Todd - $3.9 million
5. Charlie Wilson's War - $2.8 million
6. P.S. I Love You - $2.4 million
7. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - $1.5 million
8. Enchanted - $1.3 million
9. The Golden Compass - $1.2 million
10. Juno - $970,000
11. Atonement - $530,000
12. No Country For Old Men - $480,000

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Weekend Preview: National Treasure Should Strike Gold

on Friday, December 21, 2007   0 comments

     After two movies singlehandedly saved the box office last weekend, the latest crop of newcomers has a lot to live up to.  Luckily, this weekend, five extremely diverse wide releases hit theaters, offering something for every moviegoer.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets explodes onto the scene with rollicking adventure.  Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story brings some spoof comedy to the table.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street sings a few eerie show tunes.  Charlie Wilson's War  provides some star-studded dramedy.  And P.S. I Love You fills the romantic comedy slot.  As if that wasn't enough for you, another four films go wide on Christmas day!  That's right, folks, we've officially reached the holiday season.
     National Treasure: Book of Secrets should easily top the box office this weekend.  Back in 2005, the original National Treasure was a surprise juggernaut.  The film followed Nicholas Cage as a treasure hunter, who was on the hunt for a secret American treasure.  An adventure film for conspiracy theorists, the film was a ludicrous Da Vinci Code rip off, but it didn't pretend to be anything else.  The Jerry Bruckheimer adventure was pure, popcorn-munching fun, and Disney marketed it perfectly.  After a good $35 million opening, it struck a chord with audiences, endured through the holiday season, and went on to gross a sensational $173 million.  A franchise was born.
     Book of Secrets sticks to the proven formula, pitting Nic Cage against a band villains in a race to find a "city of gold" that was hidden by America's founding fathers.  Critics love to trash this kind of movie, and reviews (which won't matter much for this movie) are equally mediocre to the original, but I have to admit, National Treasure is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  It's got a great sense of humor, and though the plot is preposterous, it provides moviegoers with the main thing that they are seeking: FUN!  So many studios forget to advertise the fact that you will have fun if you go see their movie, but Disney, the best advertiser in the business, always sells this point.  Diane Kruger, Harvey Kietel, John Voight, Justin Bartha, and Helen Mirren all star in this swashbuckling installment, for which Disney is already planning subsequent sequels.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets should open bigger than the original, and it could outpace I Am Legend by the end of its run.  It's opening in a massive 3,832 theaters, and it might earn a big $50 million over the weekend.
     Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, a movie produced by the on-fire Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad), is spoof of the musical biopic.  Starring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer, Walk Hard sends up Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan, among others.  Reviews are very good, and it's exciting to see a true spoof movie- not simply a rehash of famous scenes, like the dreadful Epic/Date/Scary Movie.  I'm a bit concerned that Walk Hard could be too smart for its own good, for some of the ads make it somewhat hard to tell that this is a spoof, and that could confuse potential moviegoers.  However, the Apatow brand is absurdly strong, and he is really the main draw for this feature, so it should still perform well.  Playing in 2,650 venues, Sony's Walk Hard might rock its way to a $14 million opening.
     Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in the fast-talking political comedy, Charlie Wilson's War.  Set during the Cold War, Tom Hanks plays the title character, a womanizing, slick U.S. Senator who finds himself feeling suddenly convicted to improve the world.   He consequently convinces the CIA to train fighters in Afghanistan that will help fend off the Soviet Union. As a marketable concept, this is questionable.  War-themed movies like The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs, have failed at the box office lately, and the story is too complex to advertise effectively.  Universal is relying completely on star power from America's favorite actor and actress to carry Charlie Wilson's War to success.  Much like last year's The Good Shepherd, this plays to an older audience, and while its opening might be smaller, it should have great legs.  Reviews are pretty good, and it's garnered some awards attention, which will help its business substantially.  Still, though, with exciting choices like I Am Legend and National Treasure: Book of Secrets playing, it could be easy to overlook Charlie Wilson's War.  In 2,574 theaters, it should earn about $14 million this weekend.
     Sweeney Todd is the latest film from Tim Burton, so it should come as no surprise that it stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, who seem to star in every Burton project these days.  Sweeney Todd is a strange story about a man named Benjamin Barker who escapes from prison and takes on the identity of Sweeney Todd.  He does this to exact revenge on the judge who originally imprisoned him, and he kills many people in this grisly revenge movie.  What makes all this even more interesting is that Sweeney Todd is a full musical, adapted from the stage show by Stephen Sondheim.  Full of creepy, macabre music and fine acting performances, critics are hailing Burton's direction, and the film has received wonderful reviews.  Sweeney Todd is opening in just 1,249 theaters, but advertising has been strong, and Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have a built-in fan base.  This should result in a very solid per theater average and $13 million weekend.
     The final new wide release of the weekend is P.S. I Love You, a romantic comedy starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.  Swank plays a woman whose husband (Butler) has just passed away.  As it turns out, her husband knew he was dying and left her a series of letters to help her transition out of her grief and back into life.  Though the concept is sweet, Hillary Swank isn't the right woman for this kind of role.  She lacks the cute, girly factor that is so necessary in a romantic comedy, and after Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don't Cry, it's tough for audiences to accept her outside of strong, dramatic roles.  On top of this, there simply isn't very much excitement for this film, and reviews are very bad.  Produced by Warner Brothers, P.S. I Love You is being released in 2,454 theaters, and it should earn about $7 million over the next three days.
     Among the returning films, I Am Legend should place second.  It's shown decreasing grosses during its weekdays, which signifies a rather large drop for this weekend.  A 55% drop would give it $34 million for the weekend and a marvelous $136 million overall.  Alvin and the Chipmunks should hold better because of its family-friendly nature.  As sad as it makes me, Alvin might pull in an additional $26 million this weekend, for an $81 million total.  After multiple award nominations in almost every circle of critics, Juno and Atonement both expand into about 300 theaters this weekend.  They should each see their weekend grosses increase to about $3.6 million and $3 million, respectively.

Predicted Top 12 for December 21-23
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $50 million
2. I Am Legend - $34 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $26 million
4. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - $14 million
5. Charlie Wilson's War - $13 million
6. Sweeney Todd - $12 million
7. P.S. I Love You - $7 million
8. The Golden Compass - $4.5 million
9. Enchanted - $3.8 million
10. Juno - $3.6 million
11. Atonement - $3 million
12. No Country For Old Men - $2.3 million

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Will Smith - Box Office Gold

on Tuesday, December 18, 2007   1 comments

     I mentioned in the Weekend Fix that Will Smith was without a doubt, the biggest box office star around (unlike Terrence Howard).  For the last 12 years, Smith has not made a single bad move in his career choices.  Since his breakout in 1995's Bad Boys, he has starred in huge movie after huge movie, including ten $100+ million successes.  Here's an overview of his phenomenal career:


1995-1999
     Smith established himself as a great comedic action star in Bad Boys, Independence Day, Men In Black, Enemy of the State, and Wild Wild West.  His career was absolutely on fire, and each of these movies was HUGE.  Check out their box office:

1995 Bad Boys - $65 million
1996 Independence Day - $306 million
1997 Men In Black - $250 million
1998 Enemy of the State - $111 million
1999 Wild Wild West - $113 million

2000-2003
     He then took on some smaller roles in Ali and The Legend of Bagger Vance, and while they weren't the blockbusters that he usually stars in, they helped legitimize him as a serious actor, and he even nabbed an Oscar nomination for his role as Muhammad Ali.  He then reprised his role in two sequels, Men In Black II and Bad Boys II, and he snapped right back into his blockbuster persona.  Here's how he fared:

2000 The Legend of Bagger Vance - $30 million
2001 Ali - $58 million
2002 Men in Black II - $190 million
2003 Bad Boys II - $138 million

2004-now
     In the last four years, Will Smith has evolved into a jack of all trades.  He's seen gigantic success in action titles (I, Robot; I Am Legend), an animated film (Shark Tale), a romantic comedy (Hitch), and a drama (The Pursuit of Happyness).  Audiences have welcomed him with open arms every step of the way.  He's the most likable, popular actor in Hollywood, and he has continued his hot streak with I Am Legend's record-breaking opening:

2004 I, Robot - $144 million
20o4 Shark Tale - $160 million
2005 Hitch - $167 million
2006 The Pursuit of Happyness - $163 million
2007 I Am Legend - $77.2 million (opening weekend)

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The Hobbit Is Happening!

on Tuesday, December 18, 2007   0 comments

     Peter Jackson has ended his feud with New Line Cinema and agreed to produce two films that will tell the story of The Hobbit!  After 2 years of fighting and a lawsuit regarding Jackson's payment, New Line and Peter Jackson have agreed to move forward in adapting J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit, the prequel to Lord of The Rings.

     After the failure of The Golden Compass, this is huge news for New Line.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy was an unbelievable success both critically and commercially, but Jackson and New Line had a terrible falling out in the following years.  Since then, the studio has been desperately trying to mend its relationship with the 46-year old New Zealand director.  New Line wanted to produce The Hobbit as soon as possible, for in 2010, they would lose the rights to produce the film to rival studio MGM, who still owns the distribution rights.  The studios will share profits.
     New Line must be ecstatic, for it was no easy road to get to this agreement.  The negotiations between New Line and MGM and Peter Jackson have been complicated to say the least, seeing as MGM refused to distribute the movie without Jackson involved.  If you need any reminder of why New Line has been so desperately trying to fix their relationship with Jackson, then check out the numbers for the first three Lord of the Rings movies:

The Fellowship of the Ring - $314 million ($871 million worldwide)
The Two Towers - $339 million ($926 million worldwide)
The Return of the King - $377 million ($1.1 billion worldwide)

     Personally, I don't think I like the idea of splitting The Hobbit into two films (there's just not enough story there), but Hollywood cares more about money than they do about story, and The Hobbit is slated to hit theaters in 2010, with its sequel in 2011.  

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Terrence Howard - Box Office Poison

on Tuesday, December 18, 2007   0 comments

     Sometimes movies perform extremely poorly, and there is not an immediately obvious reason why.  A movie that looked good enough will simply fail, and analysts are left scratching their heads.  However, occasionally you can see a pattern arise, and you notice that when ever a certain actor stars in a movie, it fails at the box office.  It is at times like this that we might declare a star box office poison.

     You might not realize it, but Terrence Howard has been in quite a few movies in the last two years.  I say that you might not realize it because none of them have been financial successes.  After his breakout role in Crash and his Oscar-nominated turn in Hustle and Flow in 2005, Terrence Howard seemed to be the next big thing in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, every role he has taken in the two years since then has been poorly chosen (see reviews), and literally none of his ventures have done well at the box office.  In just the last month he has appeared in three films (The Perfect Holiday, August Rush, Awake), all of which will finish with underwhelming totals.  It seems to me that Terrence Howard's very presence in a movie is enough to sink its box office.  Because of this, I'm officially declaring him box office poison.  Hopefully, he can break this curse by next May.  Otherwise, the $186 million production of Iron Man should be shaking in its metal boots.  Take a look at his last eight films:

Terrence Howard Movies in 2006-2007
8/25/06 Idlewild - $12.7 million
3/23/07 Pride - $7.1 million
5/11/07 The Salon - $139,000
9/7/2007 The Hunting Party - $877,000
9/14/07 The Brave One - $36.8 million
11/21/07 August Rush - $28.1 million
11/30/07 Awake - $13.1 million
12/12/07 The Perfect Holiday - $3.6 million

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Weekend Fix: A Truly Legendary Weekend

on Monday, December 17, 2007   1 comments

     What a weekend it was at the movies!  It's hard to believe that the box office has been in a drought for the past few weeks, but it's even harder to believe the flood of money that rained down over the past three days.  The number one movie alone grossed more than last week's entire Top 12!  I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks had absolutely incredible starts this weekend, leading the Top 12 to earn a fantastic $151.9 million!  That means that the December 14-16 frame was saw a massive 109% increase over last weekend's dismal total, and a great 36% increase from the same weekend last year, when Will Smith again led the box office with The Pursuit of Happyness, proving that among leading actors, his appeal is unmatched.

     I Am Legend lived up to its title this weekend, setting a new record for the best December opening of all time with a stunning $77.2 million debut.  This previous record holder, Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, earned $72.6 million back in 2003, and no one thought that number was in any danger this weekend, but Will Smith came through in a huge way.  In a marketplace filled with old family films, lackluster thrillers, and Oscar bait, it looks like moviegoers were hungry for a good, old-fashioned popcorn movie, led by everyone's favorite action star.  (Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of just how successful Will Smith's career has been.)  The zombie action-fest had an awesome $21,411 per theater average, which assures huge bankability well into January.  This is going to be a massive cash cow for the folks at Warner Brothers, who must be giddy with these results.  You have to hand it to the studio, though.  They advertised the hell out of this movie, and they built excitement perfectly, so it's great to see I Am Legend open so fantastically.  
     In what may be an even more surprising story, Alvin and the Chipmunks had a massive opening weekend, grossing a terrific $44.3 million for Fox.  As to why Fox (who also made Garfield...) decided to revive this old 60's cartoon, I have no clue, but I guess it was a good move on their part.  I think studios were afraid to put anything up against The Golden Compass, which most everyone expected to be a gigantic family event.  However, The Golden Compass (which totes a PG-13 rating and negative controversy) scared away most families, leaving Alvin to face up against the last new family film, Enchanted, which is now four weeks old.  Families were ready for some lighthearted fair to take their kids too, especially now that children are going on break, and with little competition, Alvin and the Chipmunks was the go-to choice.  Terrible reviews didn't affect Alvin's opening, and it nabbed a very strong $12,750 per theater average.  Because kids are out of school, family films play very well over the next few weeks, and Alvin and the Chipmunks (which cost $70 million to make) is guaranteed at least $100 million overall.... (Sigh) I swear, if this performance spawns a CGI adaptation of the Smurfs, may God have mercy on us all.
     The Golden Compass fell hard in its second weekend.  The $180 million fantasy epic dropped an alarming 66% in its second weekend, earning only $8.8 million.  Since it's playing in so many theaters, it's per theater average was a tepid $2,501.  This is nothing short of a disaster for New Line, who might not even earn back a third of the production budget.  Normally, healthy international receipts could make up for a disappointing domestic performance, but New Line sold away the international rights on this one.  This is quickly becoming one of the biggest flops in history, and its extremely doubtful the other two parts of this trilogy will ever be produced.  After ten days, The Golden Compass has earned an awful $40.8 million.
     Enchanted, facing competition from a trio of rodents, fell 48% to $5.5 million, which is a slightly larger than expected drop.  Enchanted has been a solid performer for the past four weekends, and it should still add a good deal more profit over the holidays.  It looks headed for a $110-120 million finish, which should leave Disney very happy.  So far, Enchanted has made $91.8 million.
  Riding on the buzz of four Golden Globe nominations, No Country For Old Men made $2.8 million this weekend, a small 31% drop.  This Miramax feature is holding its own quite nicely, and with many more nominations and awards in its future, it should hold up very well all the way through awards season.  After six weekends, No Country For Old Men has earned a great $33.4 million.
     The Perfect Holiday had a disappointing sixth place debut.  The Christmas film starring Queen Latifah, Gabrielle Union, and Terrence Howard was dead on arrival, grossing a wimpy $2.3 million in its opening frame.  Although the Yari Film Group released it to a small number of theaters, its per theater average was still very weak at $1,747.  Perhaps there wasn't room for two Christmas movies centered on black families this December.
     This Christmas, which incurred direct competition from The Perfect Holiday, dropped 54% to $2.3 million.  This drop is a bit large as we near Christmas, but no one at ScreenGems is worried- This Christmas has already earned a surprisingly good $46 million in four weekends.
     In eighth place, Fred Claus added another $2.2 million to its total.  Fred may be Santa's younger brother, but the film is definitely starting to show its age.  In its sixth weekend, the Warner Brothers' film could only muster up a $807 per theater average, and I'm certain that almost every theater that is still playing this film will drop it directly after Christmas Day.  It's done alright for itself, though, having earned $68.9 million overall.
     Atonement, after garnering more Golden Globe nominations than any other film, earned $1.9 million this weekend.  Only playing in 117 theaters, Atonement had a fantastic venue average of $15,443, which assures further expansions.  A virtual lock for an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Atonement has earned $2.9 million in two weekends, but its run is far from over.
     August Rush made another $1.8 million this weekend, good enough for tenth place.  The Warner Brothers feature has grossed $28 million after four weekends.
     The Fox Searchlight film Juno showed its massive potential this weekend, grossing $1.4 million from just 40 theaters.  Juno had a superb per theater average of $35,686, and I'm expecting big things from it over the rest of the holiday season.  Juno, which also got some nominations this week, has made $2.1 million so far, and it will expand nationwide on Christmas.
     Rounding out the Top 12 is Beowulf, which lost almost half of its theaters and dropped 70% to $1.4 million.  With $79.3 million after five weekends, Beowulf will finish just over $80 million.  That might at first seem like a good figure, but given it's $150 million budget, this is fairly disappointing.
     Overall, the box office was back in full swing,  although there was still not much depth, seeing as the top two films made up about 75% of the Top 12 total.  Next week, things should really pick up, though, as five new films open wide.  National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Charlie Wilson's War, P.S. I Love You, Sweeney Todd, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story will finally add the necessary depth that has been so lacking lately, and there won't be so many $1-2 million earners in the Top 12.  There's going to be some big business next weekend, but will it be Legendary?  Check back on Friday for the Weekend Preview.

Top Twelve for December 14-16
1. I Am Legend - $77.2 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $44.3 million
3. The Golden Compass - $8.8 million
4. Enchanted - $5.5 million
5. No Country For Old Men - $2.8 million
6. The Perfect Holiday - $2.3 million
7. This Christmas - $2.3 million
8. Fred Claus - $2.2 million
9. Atonement - $1.8 million
10. August Rush - $1.8 million
11. Juno - $1.4 million
12. Beowulf - $1.4 million

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