Oscar Bait Roundup: Slumdog Millionaire Is Not In The Slums Anymore

on Tuesday, December 30, 2008   26 comments

I'm not sure if you are aware, but I'm not a fan of the Academy Awards. They're pretentious and self-important, and they often award films that are truly depressing and pessimistic. This would all be forgivable if the actual awards show were at least entertaining, but no- The Oscars Awards is the single most boring, drawn-out telecast on TV each year (and that includes American Idol results shows). By the time they finally arrive, at the very end of Awards Season, you can already predict each and every winner, and I think the fact that everybody fawns over them so much makes me dislike them a little bit, as well. That's not to say that many of the films that are rewarded are not good, I just find The Academy to be an extremely overrated entity.


But oh well, I'm a box office blogger, and I'm committed to serving you with analysis about how much money movies are making, and whether or not I care, The Oscars (and other awards shows) definitely mater when it comes to how much money a movie makes. If you need an example, look to 2004's Million Dollar Baby or 2007's Juno, two films that never could have broken the $100 million barrier without the awards boost. It works the other way around too. Oscar voters can't vote on movies that they haven't seen, so earning more at the box office can definitely contribute to a movie's chances at a nomination and win. Because of these factors, I thought it might be useful to delve into the performance of the current releases that have been labeled as front-runners in the Oscar race. All of these films, with the very notable exception of Benjamin Button, are either in limited release or in the process of expanding.

Among Oscar bait, the most impressive performance may look like David Fincher's The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which certainly had a great opening weekend, but that film came with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and a ton of promotion. To me, when I look at this weekend's numbers, I am without a doubt most impressed by Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. Even after expanding into a release of 614 theaters, it was still able to to earn a fantastic per theater average of $7,006. When you consider the fact that Slumdog Millionaire has been playing for seven weeks, that number is even more amazing. Meanwhile, films like The Reader, Milk, and Frost/Nixon are newer and have lower theater counts, but still have smaller per theater averages. Now, these films aren't doing poorly, they just aren't having the kind of Cinderella run that Slumdog Millionaire is having. To be clear, audiences are in love with this movie, its reviews are amazing, and it's chugging along at the box office. I attribute a lot of its success to the fact that it has a happy ending. People love seeing an awards-caliber film that leaves them feeling hopeful and happy, and Fox Searchlight (who was distributing Juno this time last year) understands that. I wish it all the success in the world.

On the complete other end of the spectrum is Revolutionary Road, a movie about miserable people being miserable. The reunion of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio is attractive, and enough for a great opening gross from just three theaters, but the story will limit its potential tremendously, both awards-wise (not even Oscar-voters are that depressed, but I expect some acting nods) and financially. Meanwhile, there's The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky's critically beloved film starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. This movie falls somewhere between Slumdog Millionaire and Revolutionary Road in terms of tone and box office potential. Even with incredible reviews, I think the story may be a bit too sad for this to truly break out, but the ultimately heroic spirit of Mickey Rourke's super-buzzy performance will keep earning this one earning money at a slow burn for some time. It's started off very strongly. Finally, Clint Eastwood's drama Gran Torino has started off very strongly, but its reviews have not been as good as everyone was expecting. It will be interesting to see whether its massive buzz can overcome reviews that, for Eastwood, are just "okay." In conclusion, even though I'm still looking for Wall-E to take Best Picture, here are the weekend's results for what I'm calling Oscar bait:

Oscar-Seeking Titles for December 26-28 2008

#Movie Title Wk
3-Day Gross
Theaters
PTA
Total
RT Reviews
3
The Curious Case
Of Benjamin Button
1
$26,853,816
2,988
$7,457
$38,725,647
73%
10
Doubt
3
$5,339,7421267$4,214
$8,484,86376%
13 Slumdog Millionaire
7
$4,301,870614$7,006
$19,476,39594%
15
Gran Torino
3
$2,322,78184$27,652
$4,220,82473%
16
Milk
5
$1,762,638
311$5,668
$13,533,58593%
18
Frost/Nixon
4
$1,355,186
205$6,611
$3,539,42690%
21
The Reader
3
$664,013
116$5,724
$1,243,69057%
22
The Wrestler
2
$387,530
18$21,529
$907,63198%
28
Revolutionary Road
1
$189,911
3$63,304
$189,91168%
30
Rachel Getting Married
13
$131,440
65$2,022
$10,017,383
87%

What do you think about the Academy Awards? Do they matter to you, or do judge movies for yourself? Is anyone with me on the Wall-E train? Be a critic in the comments!

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Weekend Fix: Marley And Me Shuts Out Competition On The Biggest Christmas Weekend Ever

on Sunday, December 28, 2008   2 comments

Fueled by the powerful debuts of Marley And Me, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Bedtime Stories, and Valkyrie, the box office was in full force this weekend, pulling in record numbers for the Christmas frame. It appears that in the midst of a recession, while retail sales are rapidly declining and unemployment is on the rise, the movies offered American audiences a perfect escape from the harsh realities of life. If only the holidays could help our economy as much as they help the movie industry! Over the four day weekend, the Top 12 pulled in an amazing $264 million. Over the three day weekend, the Top 12 pulled in an estimated $194 million, an increase of 15% over the same weekend last year.

Marley And Me nabbed the top spot this weekend, with a humongous $51.6 million opening. Based on the popular bestseller by Josh Grogan, Fox's already successful Marley And Me officially shuts up all those who claimed that Jennifer Aniston would never be able to become a full-fledged movie star. Between this and 2006's The Break Up, it seems she has found her niche in relationship movies that are not quite romantic comedies. This is also a big victory for Owen Wilson, as this marks his comeback from his unfortunate and highly publicized suicide attempt last year, so it's nice to see him doing better. Marley And Me had a fantastic per theater average of $14,849 ($10,632 for the 3-day), the best in the Top 12. Fox has advertised this movie so well. Just like with last December's Alvin And The Chipmunks, they sold the cute-factor, with commercials that showcased the adorable canine, and it payed off in a big way! In fact, cuteness, sweetness, and schmaltz are all perfectly acceptable in the holiday season. With great family playability and good enough reviews, this should continue to do solid business over the next few days and weeks, and I don't see any reason why Marley And Me shouldn't breeze all the way to $170 million in the near future. A true success in every way.

In second place this weekend was David Fincher's Oscar bait, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which took in a great $39 million. The Paramount picture exceeded expectations and had a brilliant per theater average of $13,052 ($9,103 for the 3-day). Audiences responded to the fresh and innovative storyline, proving that a good story is the best way to sell a movie. But the story didn't do all the work here- Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett definitely pulled in some viewers, and the good reviews and Oscar buzz pulled in even more. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button fought against its long playtime, avoiding the three-hour-curse that plagued King Kong in 2005, and performed like a champ. With awards season already upon us, Button should continue to perform strongly, and I've gotta say, it is nice to see a movie that can be considered both mainstream and an awards-contender. If it wins some major honors, the sky is the limit in terms of box office, but even if it doesn't, $140 million is all but assured.

Disney's Adam Sandler picture (oxymoron?), Bedtime Stories, came in third place this weekend, earning $38.6 million over four days. Bedtime Stories is a classic case of a movie that is a victim of high expectations. Even if its $38.6 million debut isn't necessarily bad, everyone was expecting this to do better, and absolutely no one thought that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which was playing in 700 less theaters and is over an hour longer than Bedtime Stories, could match its debut. So why wasn't it bigger? Well, I think there are a couple of factors that led to this result. To begin, reviews were bad. Very bad. On top of that, people associate Adam Sandler with a very specific kind of character (see: slacker and/or raunchy), and perhaps that didn't work so well during the holiday season, where wholesome characters are more welcome. But don't get me wrong- Bedtime Stories is far from a failure. In fact, with a very large theater count and a good $10,630 venue average ($9,103 for the 3-day), Bedtime Stories should stick around for a while, and will have no trouble making it to $140 million.

Proving that he's still a star, Tom Cruise also had a good weekend at the cineplex, as United Artists' Valkyrie took in an estimated $30 million. This movie had a lot working against it. The first problem, Tom Cruise. Mr. Cruise has wisely toned down his antics and raves over the past year, and it looks like audiences are finally ready to move on from Oprah-gate and Lauer-bash. The second problem , a war theme. In the past few years, films about war have not done well at all. You see, movies are about escapism, and when our country is currently at war, no one wants to go to the theater to see what's already on the news 24/7. It appears, though, that Valkyrie, which takes place during WWII, is far enough removed from our current situation to be affected by the poor receipts that have plagued movies about the Iraq War. With a good $11,075 average ($7,942 over the 3-day), Valkyrie could return Tom Cruise to his $100 million days.

The next four spots on the chart were occupied by last weekend's top four releases. Warner Brothers' Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey, did pretty well, dipping just 10% over the three day weekend ($16.5 million), and pulling in $22 million over four days, for a total of $50 million. The Sony drama Seven Pounds was also down 10% ($13.4 million over the 3-day), grabbing an additional $18 million over the four day weekend, which gives the Will Smith vehicle a very underwhelming $40 million total. The Tale Of Despereaux held it's own, making $11.4 ($9.4 million over the 3-day, a 7% drop) million for a humble $27.7 million total. And sci-fi actioner The Day The Earth Stood Still notched a $10.3 million weekend ($7.9 over the 3-day, a 20% drop) for a $63.3 million total.

Way back in ninth place was Lionsgate's attempt at Sin City, a much worse movie called The Spirit, which only managed to earn $10.4 million in it's four day debut, but just $6.5 million over the regular weekend. Despite a cast made up of Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, and Scarlatt Johannson, The Spirit had a weak $4,125 venue average ($2,595 over the 3-day). This was a movie marketed to teens and fanboys, and it's front-loadedness is already apparent. Look for The Spirit to disappear quickly.

December stalwart Four Christmases added an extra $7.1 million ($5 million over the 3-day) to it's great $111.8 million cume. The Warner Brothers comedy will probably disappear pretty quickly now that Christmas has passed. Next on the list was Miramax's Doubt. After expanding into 1,228 theaters, the dramatic Oscar contender starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, did pretty well, considering its dour subject matter. Over four days, it pulled in $7.1 million for a $6,294 per theater average ($5.7 million over the 3-day, for a $4,479 average). Doubt has currently earned $8.8 million. Rounding out the Top 12 was Twilight, a movie that has done quite well for itself over the past six weeks. Summit's teen vampire flick found another $6.5 million this weekend, boosting its total to $167 million. (As a side note, I just learned about all this drama going on among Twilight fangirls! The studio wants to recast Taylor Lautner in New Moon for someone with bigger muscles, but the fans want Taylor as Jacob! Read more here...it's kind of hilarious.) Results for both the 4-day and 3-day weekends are below:

Top 12 for December 25-28 2008
#Movie Title 4-Day Gross
Total
1 Marley And Me
$51,675,000
$51,675,000
2 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
$39,000,000$39,000,000
3 Bedtime Stories
$38,598,000$38,598,000
4 Valkyrie
$30,000,000$30,000,000
5 Yes Man
$22,400,000$49,591,000
6 Seven Pounds
$18,100,000$39,026,000
7 The Tale Of Despereaux
$11,400,000$27,945,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still
$10,400,000$63,615,000
9 The Spirit
$10,350,000$10,350,000
10 Four Christmases
$7,300,000$111,817,000
11
Doubt
$7,100,000
$8,825,000
12
Twilight
$6,000,000
$167,063,207
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Top 12 for December 26-28 2008
#Movie Title 3-Day Gross
1 Marley And Me
$37,000,000
2 Bedtime Stories
$28,069,000
3 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button$27,200,000
4 Valkyrie
$21,531,000
5 Yes Man
$16,450,000
6 Seven Pounds
$13,400,000
7 The Tale Of Despereaux
$9,367,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still
$7,900,000
9 The Spirit
$6,510,000
10 Doubt
$5,675,000
11
Four Christmases$5,045,000
12
Twilight
$4,518,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

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Friday Estimates: Marley Remains Top Dog

on Saturday, December 27, 2008   0 comments

The Friday Estimates chart looks almost identical to Thursday, as Marley And Me stayed on top the day after Christmas with a fantastic $14 million. It's looking to earn around $55 million over the weekend, when all is said and done. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Bedtime Stories each took in around $10 million, and both should finish the four-day weekend with $40 million under their belts, which is great for Benjamin Button but a bit underwhelming for Bedtime Stories. Bryan Singer's Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise, continues to exceed expectations, notching another $8 million on Friday. It looks to be heading for $30 million by Sunday. The Spirit is already revealing it's front-loadedness, falling 25% to $3 million from Thursday to Friday. It's should match my original prediction of $12 million over the four days. Also of note, Doubt and Slumdog Millionaire are still doing their thing near the bottom of the chart. Here are the rest of the results:

Top 12 for December 26, 2008
#Movie Title Daily Gross
1 Marley And Me
$14,o00,000
2 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
$10,200,000
3 Bedtime Stories
$10,100,000
4 Valkyrie
$8,000,000
5 Yes Man
$5,500,000
6 Seven Pounds
$4,550,000
7 The Spirit
$3,000,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still
$2,200,000
9 The Tale Of Despereaux$2,100,000
10 Four Christmases
$2,000,000
11
Doubt
$1,470,000
12
Slumdog Millionaire
$1,280,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

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Disney Abandons The Narnia Franchise; But Will "The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader" Still Sail?

on Friday, December 26, 2008   1 comments

This week the Walt Disney Company announced that they would no longer be working with Walden Media to produce The Chronicles Of Narnia franchise. Although the studio remained rather mum on the issue, they cited "budgetary considerations and other logistics" as part of their reasoning. Really, though, if you are a box office junkie, it's no mystery why Disney is suddenly pulling out of the franchise. Let me explain:

The first film in the Narnia franchise, The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, was a massive success both domestically and internationally. Debuting in December 2005, it earned $291 million in the US, and $745 million worldwide, and went on to sell fantastically on DVD. The second film, Prince Caspian premiered on May 16th of this year, and was a huge disappointment. Domestically, it earned $141 million, less than half of what the original earned. Worldwide, it earned "only" $419 million. That's a terribly steep decline for a sequel to a blockbuster, and it was immediately clear to Disney that they had misjudged the public's love of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books. Apparently, people had a special attachment to the most famous book in the series, The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, but not the entire set of books. The problem is that these movies are not cheap. Prince Caspian cost $200 million to produce, and that's not even including the prints and advertising budget (the first film carried a $60 million budget). In the midst of an economic downturn, Disney, like many other studios, is looking critically at its big budget expenditures.

Disney was originally planning on releasing The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader on May 7, 2010, but that clearly won't be happening anymore. (Somewhere, Iron Man 2 is cheering...) Walden Media, who owns the movie rights to the Narnia books, claims that they remain committed to the franchise, but were "disappointed" in Disney's decision. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Personally, I'm a little bit sad. While I didn't love the second film, I don't think that the Narnia franchise was a bad investment at all. Prince Caspian was a relatively tough source material to work with, but frankly, Disney was just plain lazy in their advertising. They expected audiences to come to the theaters just because the word "Narnia" was in their title. The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is such an exciting book, and could have made a wonderful movie. I actually hope that another studio, who really believes in Dawn Treader's potential, makes a deal with Walden Media to co-finance the project. What do you think? Are you sad about the end of the Disney/Narnia relationship? Do you think the third Narnia film will ever see the light of day?

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Christmas Day Estimates: Oh My Dog! Marley And Me Opens To $14.5 Million On First Day!

on Friday, December 26, 2008   2 comments

Wow, I don't think anyone saw this powerful of a debut coming! And that applies to more movies than one! The top three films had the top three Christmas Day debuts EVER. Marley And Me just broke the all-time record for best Christmas Day box office with an estimated $14.5 million! It could be looking a sizzling $58 million debut! The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button didn't do too badly either, with $11.8 million. The long play-time will cut into it's gross a bit, but a $45 million projection ain't too shabby. Assumed front-runner Bedtime Stories took third place with $10.5 million, but I believe it will do much better in the next few days, considering Christmas is a day when many families do choose to stay in. It might finish with $45 million. Even Valkyrie (to my chagrin, I'll admit it) managed to pull in $8.5 million in ticket sales! The Tom Cruise starrer could make it to $30 million by Sunday. Thanks goodness for The Spirit, which helped maintain some predictability at the box office by only earning $4 million. Give it a still-way-better-than-it-deserves $15 million weekend. Wow, what an amazing day at the box office! Unlike last weekend, the new releases have captured moviegoers' attention, and people flocked to the theaters in droves this Christmas. Here are the estimates:

Top 12 for December 25, 2008
#Movie Title Daily Gross
1 Marley And Me
$14,500,000
2 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
$11,800,000
3 Bedtime Stories
$10,500,000
4 Valkyrie
$8,500,000
5 Yes Man
$6,000,000
6 Seven Pounds
$4,750,000
7 The Spirit
$4,000,000
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still
$2,750,000
9 Four Christmases
$2,250,000
10 The Tale Of Despereaux $2,000,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

It's funny, though. My family has never even considered going to the movies on Christmas Day, and I've always felt like a lot of people are in the same boat as me. I don't even change out of my pajamas, much less go out! It just wouldn't feel appropriate to me. Anyone else agree? Or do YOU go to the movies on December 25th? Let me know in the comments! Happy holidays!

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Weekend Preview: An Avalanche Of New Releases Hope To Find Holiday Success

on Wednesday, December 24, 2008   0 comments

Well Christmas time is officially here! Kids are out of school, parents are off from work, and families are reunited for the holidays. Ah, Christmas! Snow is falling across the country, and sleigh bells are jingling through the sky. My gooey, sentimental, cheerful side is telling me how sweet it is that carols are being sung and people are smiling. My analytical, bottom line, box office side is telling me that this is the time that Hollywood can earn a ton of cold hard cash. Not surprisingly, there are five new wide releases this weekend: Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Valkyrie, Marley And Me, and The Spirit.

Seeing as it's Christmas Eve, and my whole family is coming into town tomorrow morning, and I need to get my sleep (or else Santa won't come!), this will be a slightly abridged Weekend Preview. I'll go over each of the new films coming out this weekend with just a couple sentences, ranking them from least box office potential to most over the four day weekend. Oh, wait a minute- did I say films? I meant gifts!

The Orange At The End Of Your StockingThe Spirit (Lionsgate - 2,509 theaters) It's like 300 and Sin City, just with a terrible advertising campaign, and even worse reviews. $12 million

The Inevitable Chapstick In Your StockingValkyrie (United Artists - 2,711 theaters) It is 2008, and I'm wondering what people dislike more: movies about war or Tom Cruise? $14 million

Nice! A Best Buy Gift Card!The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Paramount - 2,988 theaters) I had this idea for a screenplay like five years ago! Grrrrr. It looks extremely intriguing, and reviews are pretty good, but a three hour runtime will limit the number of people willing to see it, and the number of times it can be played in theaters. $23 million

Oh Snap, This Is A Nice SweaterMarley And Me (Fox - 3,480 theaters) Jennifer Aniston is on the comeback train, people love Owen Wilson, and who doesn't love a cute dog? A good romantic comedy with solid leads can be a big draw, and the PG rating will bring in some families. $27 million

An Ipod!Bedtime Stories (Disney - 3,681 theaters) Seems to be following the Night At The Museum trajectory. Sandler is a proven draw, and Disney has marketed the heck out of this one. It is the clear choice for families, on this, the most family-driven weekend of the year. And as a side note, I am aboslutely enamored with Keri Russell. $45 million


Predicted Top 12 for December 25-28
1. Bedtime Stories - $45 million
2. Marley And Me - $27 million
3. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - $23 million
4. Yes Man - $19 million
5. Seven Pounds - $16 million
6. The Tale Of Despereaux - $15 million
7. Valkyrie - $14 million
8. The Spirit - $12 million
9. The Day The Earth Stood Still - $7.5 million
10. Four Christmases - $5 million
11. Twilight - $5 million
12 Bolt - $4.5 million

Alright guys, have a great holiday. Posting won't be too frequent for the next couple days, but I'll try to get Thursday/Friday numbers and the Weekend Fix up as soon as I can. Have a very merry Christmas!

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Box Office History: Home Alone

on Wednesday, December 24, 2008   1 comments

Last night, I watched Home Alone for the first time in about 15 years, and I can honestly say that it was one of my favorite movie-watching experiences I've ever had. I, along with my whole family, could literally not stop laughing, and I was instantly reminded why Home Alone is a Christmas classic- it's simply great! It actually brought my family closer together with its constant hilarity and delightfully genuine schmaltz. It deserves any and all praise it receives, and I don't care about the cynics over at Rotten Tomatoes, this movie is amazing. It's no wonder the Fox feature earned $285 million at the box office in 1990!

Actually, though, it is. Only three movies have crossed that threshold in 2008 (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Indiana Jones), but this was in 1990! A quick look at the week-by-week breakdown for Home Alone will show you just how amazing the Macaulay Culkin film's box office run was. It stayed in the number one spot on the charts for 12 full weeks! That's three months! That could never happen in today's front-loaded scene. Just look at these weekend numbers:

Home Alone's Box Office Run (From Nov 16- Apr 28)
Week
Rank
Weekend Gross
% Change
Total
Nov 16-18
1
$17,081,997
-
$17,081,997
Nov 23-25
1
$20,987,761
+22.9%
$48,287,152
Nov 30-Dec 2
1
$14,386,876
-31.5%
$66,748,191
Dec 7-9
1
$14,232,156
-1.1%
$84,168,098
Dec 14-16
1
$11,617,249
-18.4%
$99,307,437
Dec 21-25
1
$15,079,919
+29.8%
$118,637,943
Dec 28-Jan 1
1
$25,148,406
+66.7
$152,103,249
Jan 4-6
1
$12,626,851
-50.2%
$168,697,638
Jan 11-13
1
$9,813,012
-22.3%
$181,405,541
Jan 18-21
1
$11,069,157
+12.8%
$194,760,234
Jan 25-27
1
$7,268,334
-34.4%
$203,487,564
Feb 1-3
1
$8,215,408
+13.0%
$213,551,706
Feb 8-10
3
$6,001,085
-27.0%
$221,181,762
Feb 15-18
4
$7,376,443
+22.9%
$230,160,502
Feb 22-24
4
$4,831,317
-34.6%
$236,363,633
Mar 1-3
5
$4,221,896
-12.6%
$241,658,036
Mar 8-10
7
$3,315,651
-21.5%
$245,880,904
Mar 15-17
9
$2,731,894
-17.6%
$249,557,920
Mar 22-24
8
$2,776,368
+1.6%
$253,061,346
Mar 29-31
8
$2,433,479
-12.4%
$256,778,093
Arp 5-7
9
$1,954,348
-19.7%
$260,077,797
Apr 12-14
9
$1,835,299
-6.1%
$262,461,999
Apr 19-21
9
$1,648,188
-10.2%
$264,650,281
Apr 26-28
12
$1,122,205
-31.9%
$266,197,786
All Numbers Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

The numbers should speak for themselves. That's an amazingly good performance (it still earned an additional $20 million!), and one that should be remembered by all box office junkies forever. Even The Dark Knight, a movie that has had a very long run in today's marketplace, relinquished the top spot after four weekends, and it was out of the Top 12 after 12 weekends. Home Alone's staying power was just incredible. Good work, Home Alone.

And now to switch gears a little bit. I could really relate to Macaulay yesterday. Just like he was left alone by his family, I felt like I had been left behind by my blog template, which simply decided to stop working altogether. Thank goodness I'm done with my Christmas wrapping, because I ended up frantically trying to save my blog for the entire day. You might've said I was starring in Room Alone. But just like little Macaulay Culkin, I actually found myself to have surprisingly good ingenuity. In the end, I had completely switched up the template, made my own header graphics, added some tabs and links at the top, and implemented social bookmarks! I guess my old template dying was a good thing, because I think it looks so much fresher now! Do you?

Do You Like The New Site Design?
YES
NO

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WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!

on Tuesday, December 23, 2008   0 comments

Guys, I don't know what is going on with the site! Sometimes it won't the load the template, and other times it will only load the site half way! Every time I try to fix it, it reverts back to this messed up page... It's so frustrating! I run the site through Blogger, so right now I'm holding Google accountable. I'm working my hardest to fix it, but I just can't seem to get it right. Don't be surprised if the site looks different in the next couple days. Anyone else having problems? I could really use your feedback!

Sorry again,
Grady

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Adam Sandler - Box Office Gold

on Monday, December 22, 2008   0 comments

Many people were surprised when, way back, Disney announced that Adam Sandler would be headlining their big Christmas Day release, Bedtime Stories. Famous for his foul-mouthed, underachiever characters, Sandler did not seem ideally suited for a family-friendly Disney release. Nonetheless, it looks like the Mouse House has found a way to take his persona, and make it wholesome. Think Vin Diesel in The Pacifier. Some are turned off by the idea, but what do I see here? I see a very smart and very lucrative decision by Walt Disney Pictures, because while Adam Sandler loves to play the slacker in his movies, his movies do not slack when it comes to the box office. In fact, he may well be the most consistent box office performer of our time. Love him or hate him, the man knows how to choose his movies and please his audience. Take a look at this unlikely superstar's remarkably great track record:

Early Days: 1994-1996Sandler was a regular on Saturday Night Live from 1990-1995, and like most other popular cast members, the next step was to try to transition into film. However, his first few efforts were nothing to brag about, as none of them even cleared $40 million. Still, despite the poor box office receipts, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison found hugely success on TV, and they became career defining roles for Adam Sandler.

1994 Airheads - $5.7 million
1994 Mixed Nuts - $6.8 million
1995 Billy Madison - $25 million
1996 Happy Gilmore - $38 million
1996 Bulletproof - $21 million

Building His Star: 1998-2000A role opposite Drew Barrymore in 1998's The Wedding Singer took Sandler's career to new heights, as the romantic comedy raked in a solid $80 million. But it was the one-two punch of The Waterboy and Big Daddy that solidified Adam's place in Hollywood. The comedies were both huge successes, and even with the slightly disappointing performance of Little Nicky, no one could deny that Sandler had become a legitimate box office draw.

1998 The Wedding Singer - $80 million
1998 The Waterboy - $161 million
1999 Big Daddy - $163 million
2000 Little Nicky - $39 million

Laughing All The Way To The Bank: 2002-NowEvery year for the past seven years, Sandler has released a $100 million earner, a feat that very few people can achieve. He has wisely chosen his scripts, starring in comedies that showcase his unique brand of deadbeat humor, buffoonery, and a little dash of heart. He has truly mastered the art of playing the slacker, and audiences, who love knowing what to expect from a star, respond to his consistent style. In between his smash hit comedies, Sandler has taken some chances with more dramatic fare. However, while reviews for Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), and Reign Over Me (2007) were much better than for his comedies, their box office didn't match up. They earned $17 million, $42 million, and $19 million, respectively. Still, that shouldn't take away from the fact that Sandler is, without a doubt, the box office king of comedy. Want to see consistency? Well, here's a rundown of all of his comedies from 2002 onward:

2002 Mr. Deeds - $126 million
2003 Anger Management - $135 million
2004 50 First Dates - $120 million
2005 The Longest Yard - $158 million
2006 Click - $137 million
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry - $120 million
2008 You Don't Mess With The Zohan - $100 million
2008 Bedtime Stories - ?????

The combination of Sandler's massively successful career with Disney's incredible promotional abilities, I'm expecting big things from Bedtime Stories. I'll post my full prediction in this week's Weekend Preview, but in the meantime: What do you think of Sandler's success? Which is your favorite movie of his? And how do you think Bedtime Stories will perform? Let your voice be heard in the comments below.

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Weekend Fix: Audiences Say "Eh" Instead of "Yes" To New Releases

on Sunday, December 21, 2008   0 comments

In the final frame before Christmas this year, the box office was in sorry shape. With a lackluster slate of new releases that failed to take full advantage of the holiday, and snow storms across the Northeast, the Top 12 raked in just $82 million, down a whopping 45% from the same weekend a year ago. Yes Man topped the charts, with Seven Pounds and The Tale Of Despereaux following in second and third, but all three of the new releases failed to really break out.

Jim Carrey's antic-laden comedy, Yes Man, earned $18 million this weekend at the multiplex. Considering 2007 saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets debut to $44 million during the same weekend last December, this is not a great result. With poor reviews and a tired concept, Yes Man failed to provide audiences with something new, and it paid the price. Yes Man looked like a 1990's comedy, and with its underwhelming debut, people made it very clear that they currently prefer the Apatow-style of comedy, which is fast-paced and raunchy, but soulful. The Warner Brothers release had a $5,288 per theater average, which is mediocre for a new release, but all is not lost for Yes Man. The silver lining here is that we are in late December, where every day acts like a weekend day, so the comedy should be leggier than most, but this still has to be a disappointment for both the studio and Carrey, who needs to pursue more dramatic roles, like in The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind. Personally, I'm excited for his role in 2010's Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

Seven Pounds, the Sony-produced Will Smith drama, sputtered out of the gates, earning just $16 million in its first three days. Earning an alright $5,801 per theater, Seven Pounds actually had the highest venue average in the Top 12, which shows how weak the frame was overall. The big problem here was in the advertising. From the trailer and commercials, it was almost impossible to figure out what this movie was about, which is never a good strategy for promoting a film. The bad reviews didn't help things, either. The real loser in this equation, though, has got to be Will Smith, who was hoping for his 9th $100 million earner with Seven Pounds. Up until this point, Smith was untouchable among stars. Unfortunately, with a $16 million dollar opening, this probably won't stick around nearly as long as December 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness ($163 million finish) or December 2007's I Am Legend ($256 million finish). It could be that Smith's recent donations to the Church of Scientology (oxymoron?) are having a Tom Cruise Effect on his career. All I have to say is, "Don't become crazy, Will!"

The final new release this weekend was The Tale Of Despereaux, which opened to $10.5 million. The Universal film about a gallant mouse got middling reviews, and proved for the umpteenth time that releasing an animated movie is a task best left to Dreamworks or Disney. It seems like whenever a studio (that is not Pixar) tries to release a detailed, realistic-looking animated film, it doesn't work out at the box office. Films like Ice Age, Madagascar, or Open Season, which have zanier, exaggerated animation, tend to do better. Despereaux had a disappointing per theater average of $3,810, and I fully expect it to get left in the dust when Disney's Bedtime Stories debuts on Christmas Day.

Among holdovers, drops were a bit steeper than expected, mostly due to the snow storms across the Northeast (and as someone who was in Connecticut during the snow storms, I can attest: there was a lot of snow). Fox's sci-fi actioner, The Day The Earth Stood Still, nosedived 67% this weekend, earning $10 million for a $48.6 million total. This is yet another case of The Fanboy Effect. Warner Brothers' well-performing Four Christmases fell 41% to $7.7 million as it crossed the $100 million mark, while Summit's Twilight continued to show it's resilience, as it's 34% drop was the smallest in the Top 12. It earned an additional $5.2 million for a fantastic $158.4 million total.

Disney's Bolt fell 43% to $4.3 million, as it inches its way closer to the $100 million plateau. The animated dog feature has performed admirably over the past few weeks, and it currently sits with $95 million. Not so lucky was Fox's Australia, the overblown epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Down 44% to $2.3 million, the insanely expensive Baz Luhrmann film has a disappointing total of just $41 million. At the bottom tier of the Top 12, Quantum of Solace fell 42% to $2.1 million, Milk dropped 37% to $1.6 million, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa declined 53% to $1.5 million. Totals are $161.3 million, $10.3 million, and $172.3 million, respectively.

Up above, I skipped over the one real bright spot of the weekend: Slumdog Millionaire. The Fox Searchlight feature, which audiences and critics are loving, expanded into 589 theaters and earned $3.2 million over the weekend. This was good for a venue average of $5,388, the second-best in the Top 12. The most palatable of this year's Oscar bait, Slumdog Millionaire has already earned $12 million, and with many awards on the way, look for the Danny Boyle film to keep chugging right along for the next few weeks.

Next weekend brings us seven new wide releases: Amusement, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, Revolutionary Road, Spirit, and Valkyrie. These releases should bring a much-needed dose of flavor to the movies, which will hopefully redeem the performances this weekend. Regardless, with that many new films, things should be interesting... Here's the chart:

Top 12 for December 19-21
#Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 Yes Man
$18,160,000 $18,160,000
2 Seven Pounds
$16,000,000 $16,000,000
3 The Tale of Despereaux
$10,507,040 $10,507,040
4 The Day The Earth Stood Still
$10,150,000 $48,626,884
5 Four Christmases
$7,745,000 $100,154,000
6 Twilight$5,227,000 $158,460,899
7 Bolt$4,256,000$95,009,000
8 Slumdog Millionaire
$3,150,000 $12,133,750
9 Australia$2,325,000 $41,947,337
10 Quantum Of Solace
$2,150,000 $161,290,000
11 Milk$1,641,290 $10,322,173
12 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
$1,510,000 $173,332,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

What do you think of this weekend's box office? What went wrong? Do you think things will pick up next weekend? Write your answers in the comments!

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Friday Estimates: I Got It Right(ish)!

on Saturday, December 20, 2008   0 comments

I'm going to gloat a little bit. I was pretty darn close in my predictions for the weekend (except for Despereaux...), and I'm a little bit proud of myself. Take that Entertainment Weekly! Look's like my little operation here at The Box Office Junkie was a heck of a lot more accurate than yours! To be fair, though, everyone everywhere overestimated. Bragging aside, it's looking like Yes Man will take in about $18 million, Seven Pounds may find $16 million, and The Tale of Despereaux $11 million. Here are numbers for Friday:

Friday Estimates for December 19
1. Yes Man - $6.5 million
2. Seven Pounds - $5.3 million
3. The Tale Of Despereaux - $3.5 million
4. The Day The Earth Stood Still - $2.9 million
5. Four Christmases - $2.3 million
6. Twilight - $1.6 million
7. Bolt - $1 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire - $755,000
9. Austrailia - $625,000
10. Quantum Of Solace - $565,000
11. Milk - $425,000
12. Nothing Like The Holidays - $360,000

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Weekend Preview: Jim Carrey vs. Will Smith In A Bipolar Box Office Frame

on Wednesday, December 17, 2008   0 comments

This weekend, the holiday season is officially here, and studios are hoping that with kids out of school, and parents off from work, the movies can rake in some serious cash. Timing wise, there's no better space on the calendar to take advantage of the public's holiday freedom. Last year, we had National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Enchanted, and I Am Legend all riding very high on their way to profitability So here's my question: On one of the biggest weekends of the entire year, is this really the best Hollywood could do? Opening this Friday, we have the Jim Carrey screwball comedy, Yes Man, the Will Smith sobfest, Seven Pounds, and another CG animated film, The Tale Of Despereaux. Really, the battle is between Yes Man and Seven Pounds, as this weekend's main offerings hit the two extremes of mainstream movie tastes. Although both films are headlined by established box office stars, thematically, they couldn't be more different.

Warner Brothers' Yes Man sees Jim Carrey in the kind of role that made him famous. That means over-the-top, exaggerated facial gestures, crazy voices, and general absurdity to boot. Yes Man is about a man who only says, "Yes," and the way that that liberating mentality eventually becomes a hindrance. Sound familiar? Liar, Liar comes to mind... I'm not sure that audiences still love this version of Jim Carrey. His work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show showed he's a versatile actor, but after straying a bit too far from his own persona in this years awful The Number 23, perhaps Carrey wanted to get back to his initial bread n' butter. In the last few years, however, comedies have become much more fast-paced, quick-witted affairs, with snappy dialogue and wry humor. I don't know that Ace Ventura would necessarily work in today's marketplace, and that's the problem with Yes Man. It doesn't seem fresh; it seems like a retread. The reviews aren't great at all, but it does stand out amongst all the Oscar dreck, and the lighthearted Jim Carrey film should find an audience. Opening in 3,434 theaters, look for Yes Man to pull in $18 million.

On the other side of the spectrum is Sony's Seven Pounds, a dramatic film starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson that hopes to capture the same success as 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness. The subject of this film has been exceedingly difficult to gather from the advertisements, which work hard to sell the film on Will Smith, rather than the convoluted premise. The official synopsis reads: "In the film, Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers." Not giving audiences a clear idea of the story is never a good idea, and I think Seven Pounds will ultimately pay for that. Still, Will Smith is a proven draw at the box office, and I expect that his latest inspirational drama will manage to pull in solid crowds throughout the holiday season. But Seven Pounds is not going over to well with critics, which diminishes much of its long term potential, and the story doesn't look particularly uplifting- just very dour. I don't see this matching The Pursuit of Happyness' $163 million run, and maybe not even The Bucket List's (a similarly-schmaltzy film) $93 million. Will Smith's name will draw in viewers, though, and from 2,758 theaters, Seven Pounds might earn $17 million as well.

The final new wide release this weekend is Universal's The Tale Of Despereaux, a computer-generated animated film about a heroic mouse's adventures. I'm going to be frank. As long as the world is spoiled by the perfection that is Pixar, all other animated films will simply pale in comparison, both in the visuals and in the story. Despereaux doesn't look to have too much going for it, other than being cute, but very few people know about the source material, and reviews are bad. Debuting in 3,104 theaters, I'm only seeing a $6 million weekend. Let's just hope it doesn't pull a Delgo...

I know I must sound terribly Scrooge-like today, but I have to wonder how this weekend's slate ended up at this. None of these films is a surefire, family-friendly tentpole release. I just cant wrap my mind around why Disney didn't bump Bedtime Stories up to this weekend, or maybe they could have waited to release High School Musical 3 in December, so they could cash in on this lucrative season. I guess it's no use crying over spilled egg nog, though, so I digress. Holdovers should be relatively soft, though former chart-topper The Day The Earth Stood Still might nonetheless see a 50% drop. Four Christmases should do well, and other family films should have the smallest drops in the Top 12. Also of note, Oscar-lock Slumdog Millionaire expands into 589 theaters this weekend, and it should find some success in doing so. Here are my predictions for the frame:

Predicted Top 12 For December 19-21
1. Yes Man - $18 million
2. Seven Pounds - $17 million
3. The Day The Earth Stood Still - $14 million
4. Four Christmases - $10 million
5. The Tale Of Despereaux - $6 million
6. Bolt - $5.7 million
7. Twilight - $5.5 million
8. Slumdog Millionaire - $3.3 million
9. Australia - $2.8 million
10. Quantum Of Solace - $2.6 million
11. Milk - $2.6 million
12. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa - $2.1 million

What about you? What are your predictions?

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Walt Disney 2009 Preview: Things Are Looking Up!

on Wednesday, December 17, 2008   1 comments

I've never shied away from my deep affinity for all things Disney, so I was understandably excited when I saw that Walt Disney Pictures has released their 2009 preview package to some major movie websites. (Maybe one day, The Box Office Junkie will be on that mailing list, but not just yet...) It includes the Mouse House's full release schedule for 2009, as well as synopses and pictures for all of most of the films. Ropes Of Silicon has a great feature on the package. You should head over there and check it out. I'm personally most excited for Up, the upcoming Disney-Pixar film about an old man who ties thousands of balloons to his house, so he can float away, only to find that a cheery 9-year-old boy scout has tagged along for the ride. Like all other Pixar films, the characters look dynamic, the story hilarious, and the visuals incredible. After Wall-E, the Pixar team can truly do no wrong in my book. Anyway, check out the 2009 release schedule (and the Up trailer) below, and then head over to Ropes Of Silicon for the full preview.

February 13, 2009 - Confessions of a Shopaholic

February 27, 2009 - Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience

March 13, 2009 - Race to Witch Mountain

April 10, 2009 - Hannah Montana The Movie

April 22, 2009 - Earth

May 29, 2009 - Up

June 12, 2009 - The Proposal

July 24, 2009 - G-Force

Summer 2009 - When in Rome

September 25, 2009 - Surrogates

October 2, 2009 - Toy Story

November 6, 2009 - Disney's A Christmas Carol

November 25, 2009 - Old Dogs

Christmas 2009 - The Princess and the Frog


And here's the whimsical, wonderful Up trailer:

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"I Love You, Man" Trailer- I Already Love It!

on Tuesday, December 16, 2008   5 comments

Let me take a moment to thank Dreamworks for making I Love You, Man. This is definitely the new film atop my must-see list. Just look at the cast! Seriously, could it get any cooler?

It's got the always great Paul Rudd, whose star continues to rise with his latest turn in Role Models. It's got the hilarious Rashida Jones from "The Office". It's got Andy Samberg, "SNL" regular and star of Hot Rod, a terrible movie that I absolutely love. And then there is Jason Segel, who not only stars in my favorite show on TV, "How I Met Your Mother," but also wrote the screenplay to the truly awesome Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It's like the funniest people on TV decided to get together with Paul Rudd and make a movie. On top of all that, the film actually looks really good! It looks like a funnier, more clever, more artful spin on that gag-inducing MTV show, "Bromance", that's debuting in January. Here's the trailer:


What do you all think? Is my gushing premature, or are you as excited about I Love You, Man as I am?

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