It's always a sad day in Hollywood when a truly great actor is lost, and on Tuesday, we lost one of our most promising actors. Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment yesterday, and I'm sure you've seen the story on the news by now. Say whatever you want about the man's personal life (he had a few issues), but he could act, and since he kept a low profile, he was always most notable for his acting skills than tabloid fodder. Whether belting a ballad from the bleachers in 10 Things I Hate About You, fighting for his brother and country in The Patriot, or mourning his unfulfilled love of Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger took chances and impressed audiences everywhere. I can say, without a doubt, that his performance as Ennis Del Mar in 2005's Brokeback Mountain will go down as one of the riskiest, restrained, powerful performances of our time. Presently, Heath can be seen portraying Bob Dylan in He's Not There, and this summer, he can be seen in his final role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger was just 28 years old, and he will be terribly missed. Rest in peace.
Monster movie Cloverfield stomped onto the scene and claimed first place this weekend, grossing a huge $46 million over four days. The super-secretive Paramount picture proved that if a trailer can truly whet an audience's appetite, they'll show up to get their fill when it debuts. The fanboys (self-included here) have been raving about Cloverfield for months now, excitedly anticipating it in forums across the web. All that excitement translated into big box office for the J.J. Abrams produced project, which broke the record for best three-day opening in January, but I'm expecting Cloverfield to fall pretty quickly. Movies that appeal to the movie-geek community (still self-included) usually open big and fall fast. We saw it last month with AVP:R, and we'll see it (to a lesser extent) with Cloverfield. The trend is already apparent in its opening weekend: After a $16.8 million opening day, the film fell 17% on Saturday, which implies front-loadedness. Still, with good reviews, a widely-appealing story, an $11,738 (three day) venue average, and an innovative spin on the monster movie, Cloverfield shouldn't have much trouble crossing the $100 million mark some time in the future. In second place, the romantic comedy 27 Dresses earned about $1 million for each of the dresses in its title, garnering a sweet $27.3 million four-day gross. This is great news for both of the film's leads, for Katherine Heigl's star continues to rise, and James Marsden proved that he can open a movie as the romantic lead. The one-two punch of Cloverfield and 27 Dresses reminds me very much of June 30, 2006, a weekend when Superman Returns opened with $52.5 million, and chick flick The Devil Wears Prada came in second with $27.5 million. (Coincidentally, Prada and Dresses were written by the same woman, who must have a knack for penning girly movies that open well against action films.) After that weekend, The Devil Wears Prada ended up having way better legs than Superman Returns, finishing with $124.5 million versus Superman's $200 million, and while 27 Dresses probably won't reach these heights (it will have trouble pulling in any men), I wouldn't be surprised if it finished with a total very similar to Cloverfield's. Its three day per theater average of $7,442 is strong, and Fox has got to be happy with these results.
|#||Movie Title||Weekend Gross||Total|
|3||The Bucket List||$16,110,000||$43,669,000|
|6||Nation Treasure: Book of Secrets||$9,359,000||$199,242,000|
|8||Alvin and the Chipmunks||$9,200,000||$198,580,181|
|9||I Am Legend||$5,715,000||$248,292,000|
|11||The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything||$3,631,400||$8,518,310|
|12||There Will Be Blood||$3,541,000||$8,575,000|
One of the most important things for a box office analyst to be able to do is recognize when the movie business is changing. Sometimes, films just don't behave the way you think they're going to, and you must realize that the traditional box office behavior of yesteryear may no longer apply. This seems to be the case with January. With fantastic performances from Cloverfield, 27 Dresses, and The Bucket List (one of the films which I egregiously underestimated this weekend), January has become a totally viable month for studios to release big titles, leaving poor September as the worst month of the year. This weekend proves that with solid marketing and a catchy concept, a movie can open well at any time of the year. Fueled primarily by Cloverfield's record breaking opening (highest ever in January!), this year's three-day weekend was huge, blowing past 2007's grosses. Check back in tomorrow for the four-day weekend analysis.
What month are we in again? January? Really? Alright, but last time I checked, January was one of the worst months of the year in terms of box office. With Cloverfield and 27 Dresses' fantastic opening day grosses, it looks like times must be really changing. At least Mad Money is behaving normally...
Best Actress - Drama
Julie Christie Away From Her
Best Actor - Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis There Will Be Blood
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Best Actress - Musical or Comedy
Marion Cotillard La Vie En Rose
Best Actor - Musical or Comedy
Johnny Depp Sweeney Todd
Julian Schnabel The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
|#||Movie Title||Weekend Gross||Total|
|1||The Bucket List||$19,540,000||$20,964,000|
|4||National Treasure: Book of Secrets||$11,482,000||$187,295,000|
|5||Alvin and the Chipmunks||$9,100,000||$187,740,479|
|6||I Am Leged||$8,130,000||$240,234,000|
|7||One Missed Call||$6,130,000||$20,642,000|
|8||P.S. I Love You||$5,005,000||$47,008,000|
|9||The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything||$4,418,785||$4,418,785|
|11||Charlie Wilson's War||$4,274,200||$59,498,270|
Friday Numbers are in, and it looks like I underestimated the power of two old-school box office heavyweights. The Bucket List had a great Friday with $6.4 million, which should give the Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson comedy a very respectable $19 million weekend, which is good for #1.
If you're not an Evangelical Christian, you may not have heard of VeggieTales, a popular Christian-themed franchise that feature animated vegetables like Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato. This weekend, VeggieTales presents The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, the second feature film after 2002's Jonah, which was a modest success ($25.5 million) for such a small movie. Five years later, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything looks to match Jonah's success at best. Outside of its target audience, there has been literally no advertising for this film, which is strange to me, because with a family friendly story, it does have some crossover appeal. Also, it has the best reviews of the weekend, though that's not saying much. Out in 1,336 theaters, the Universal kiddie-flick should just about match its predecessor's numbers with a $6.5 million weekend.
The final new film of the weekend is In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. First off, does every film have to have a colon in the title these days? Between Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, I don't know how many more punctuated titles I can take! Second, if you read my previous post about Uwe Boll, you know how unexcited I am for this video game adaptation starring the normally enjoyable Jason Statham. In The Name Of The King was originally supposed to debut in 2,500 theaters this weekend, but at some point during the week, 900 theater owners bailed out and decided not to play the film, which is a bad sign, and the Freestyle Releasing film was not screened for critics, which also does not bode well for it. Out in 1,605 theaters, Uwe Boll's latest assault on the film industry might earn a truly terrible $3.5 million, giving it a spot outside the Top 12.
The first weekend of 2008 got the year off to good start, continuing the solid weekend performances that the box office has had for the last three weeks. Of course, the holidays are pretty much over now, and the Top 12's box office fell an expected 27% from last weekend, but with only one new film opening, the Top 12 films still managed to gross a collective $123.9 million, which represents a great 19% increase over the first weekend of last year.
|#||Movie Title||Weekend Gross||Total|
|1||National Treasure: Book of Secrets||$20,225,000||$171,033,000|
|2||I Am Legend||$16,380,000||$228,718,000|
|4||Alvin and the Chipmunks||$16,000,000||$176,737,736|
|5||One Missed Call||$13,525,000||$13,525,000|
|6||Charlie Wilson's War||$8,184,070||$52,630,360|
|7||P.S. I Love You||$8,015,000||$39,383,000|
|8||The Water Horse||$6,300,000||$30,893,000|
|11||Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem||$4,250,000||$36,820,839|
|12||The Great Debaters||$4,245,000||$22,007,817|
Well, it looks like the holidays are coming to an end. While the box office isn't behaving especially poorly, everything except Juno, Atonement, and (based on low expectations) One Missed Call is just average or a little bit underwhelming.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets will lead for the third weekend in a row, and on Friday the treasure-hunters found $6.4 million. A $19 million weekend seems likely.
One Missed Call and I Am Legend both pulled in $5.2 million on Friday, but they should finish about $3 million apart. One Missed Call, which now has some shockingly bad reviews, was marketed almost exclusively to teens. It will be very front-loaded should finish with $13 million. I Am Legend, which has already proven its longevity, will pull in a much better $16 million.
Juno continued to exceed its buzz, earning a great $5.2 million on Friday. The indie comedy can't seem to do anything wrong during its run, and even in almost 2,000 theaters, it will have a very good per theater average of about $7,500! Look for a $15 million weekend. Atonement also fared well in it expansion, pulling in a solid $1.5 million yesterday. It should slightly exceed my prediction of $4.2 million, setting itself up for a truckload of awards.
Everything else performed pretty much as expected, so there's not much to report, but to see the final weekend grosses, check back in tomorrow for the Weekend Fix.
Friday Estimates for January 4
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $6.4 million
2. I Am Legend - $5.2 million
3. One Missed Call - $5.2 million
4. Juno - $5.2 million
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $4.6 million
6. P.S. I Love You - $2.6 million
7. Charlie Wilson's War - $2.5
8. The Water Horse - $1.9 million
9. Sweeney Todd - $1.8 million
10. Atonement - $1.5 million
11. Alien Vs. Predator - $1.4 million
12. The Great Debaters - $1.2 million