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Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Four Christmases' pulls in $31.7m over Thanksgiving weekend, 'Bolt' steady in second with $26.6m, Nov. 28-30, 2008

Thanks to a fantastic debut from Four Christmases and an impressive sophomore frame from Disney's Bolt, the box office had its biggest Thanksgiving weekend in eight years. Teen blockbuster Twilight surged past $100 million, while Fox's big budget epic Australia disappointed in fifth. Overall the top ten films grossed an estimated $154.1 million, up 10% from last year's frame when Enchanted debuted with $34.4 million.

Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn's comedy Four Christmases topped the box office with a strong $31.7 million this weekend and $46.7 million since its debut on Wednesday. Averaging $9,571 in 3,310 theaters, the $80 million budgeted New Line-Warner Bros. release shrugged off poor reviews with a hefty marketing push and timely release date. For those still scratching theirs heads at why Vince Vaughn has suddenly become a Christmas season staple (following last year's $72 million grossing Fred Claus), here's hoping two is enough. As for Witherspoon, the Oscar-winning actress posted her second biggest debut ever, behind only 2002's Sweet Home Alabama with $35.6 million.

Despite having its thunder stolen by Twilight last weekend, Disney's computer-animated family film Bolt showed by far the best legs this holiday weekend with $26.6 million from Friday to Sunday (up 1% from last weekend). That brings its ten-day take to a healthy $66.9 million, setting the toon up for a presumably strong month of December. Look for the big budget kidpic to cruise past $100 million within the next two weeks and possibly $150 million by the end of its run.

As expected, last week's box office sensation Twilight cooled down significantly from its torrid opening weekend pace, grossing $26.4 million in third and $119.7 million in ten days of release. Budgeted at a modest $37 million, Summit Entertainment's first bonafide blockbuster should continue to see steep declines in the coming weeks, but not before breaking $150 million domestic.

Falling just 27% in its third week of release was Sony-MGM's Quantum of Solace, which took in $19.5 million bringing its 17 day cume to $142.1 million. The $200 million sequel is now running 23% ahead of where Casino Royale was at this point in its run. That 2006 hit took in $167.4 million domestic and $594.2 million worldwide. Overseas Quantum of Solace has now amassed $340.1 million, bringing its worldwide haul to $482.2 million.

Rounding out the top five was Fox's big-budget epic Australia, which underperformed in its debut with just $14.8 million. Directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, the $130 million budgeted pic averaged $5,607 in 2,642 theaters. Given the film's massive budget, Fox is most likely setting its sights overseas to break even on the production. Reviews were largely mixed.

Also performing well over the Thanksgiving weekend was Paramount-DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which fell just 7% to $14.5 million, bringing its four week cume to $159.5 million. Though not on pace to catch its predecessor's $193.2 million domestic take, the $150 million budgeted computer-animated comedy should come close.

Jason Statham's action sequel Transporter 3 debuted in seventh with $12.3 million and $18.5 million over the five-day holiday frame, falling short of the $10.5 million four-day bow of its immediate predecessor Transporter 2, which debuted over the four-day Labor Day weekend of 2005 with $20.5 million. Averaging $4,695 in 2,626 theaters, the Lionsgate release should probably finish with $40 million domestic. And for those of you who can't get enough of Jason Statham in retread sequels, be prepared for Crank 2 and The Brazilian Job in 2009.

The numbers, Nov. 28-30, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Four Christmases $31,680,000 3,310 $9,571 $46,656,000 -- 1 Warner Bros.
2 Bolt $26,596,000 3,654 $7,279 $66,862,000 1.4 2 Buena Vista
3 Twilight $26,369,000 3,425 $7,699 $119,704,000 -62.1 2 Summit
4 Quantum of Solace $19,500,000 3,501 $5,570 $142,056,000 -27.0 3 Sony
5 Australia $14,815,000 2,642 $5,607 $20,000,000 -- 1 Fox
6 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $14,500,000 3,709 $3,909 $159,511,000 -7.4 4 Paramount
7 Transporter 3 $12,329,000 2,626 $4,695 $18,500,000 -- 1 Lionsgate
8 Role Models $5,284,000 2,195 $2,407 $57,896,000 -27.9 4 Universal
9 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas $1,690,000 582 $2,904 $5,160,000 2.6 4 Miramax
10 Milk $1,381,000 38,361 $Focus $Top 5 1 1,866,000 $ 118,960,000

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Twilight' dazzles with $70.6m bow, November 21-23, 2008

Update: Box Office Spotlight: Twilight ($186m domestic, $325m worldwide)

Teen vampire love trumped all others in the weekend before Thanksgiving, with Summit Entertainment's hotly-anticipated Twilight pulling in a stunning $70.6 million in its debut weekend, accounting for nearly half of all ticket sales in the marketplace. Sony/MGM's Quantum of Solace finished in second with $27.4 million, edging out Disney's computer-animated family film Bolt, which disappointed mildly in third with $27 million.

Summit Entertainment struck gold with its first bonafide blockbuster in studio history, as the $37 million budgeted book-adaptation Twilight put up the fourth biggest weekend in November history at $70.6 million. Averaging a hefty $20,636 in 3,419 theaters, the PG-13 pic based on Stephanie Meyer's hugely popular quadrilogy of books trails only Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's $102.7m, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's $90.2m, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets's $88.3m for November bows.

Rocketing to a monstrous $35.9 million on Friday, including $7 million in Thursday midnight sales showing the voracity of the books' young female fan base, Twilight posted the second biggest opening day total for a November release, surpassed only by 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with $40.1 million. Saturday sales fell an understandable 41%, due to the huge opening day take and rather concentrated audience makeup. The studio reported that a remarkable 75% of Twilight moviegoers were female.

With the busy Thanksgiving weekend approaching look for Twilight to possibly cruise past $100 million in its first ten days of release, given the extended weekend and many more teens out of school. Not surprisingly, Summit has already announced that the second book of the series, New Moon, is set for production soon.

Falling 59% and relinquishing its top spot was Sony/MGM's latest Bond pic Quantum of Solace, which took in $27.4 million in second. Edging out newcomer Bolt by less than $500,000, the Daniel Craig starrer has amassed $109.5 million in ten days. Internationally, the $200 million budgeted spy-actioner continues to rake in the cash, bringing in $40.6 million bringing its overseas cume to $308.5 million.

Disney's big budget holiday animated offering Bolt disappointed in third with an estimated $27 million, averaging a still solid $7,395 in 3,651 theaters. The PG-rated family film was clearly damaged by the overwhelming debut of Twilight, which no doubt took much of its intended teen audience this weekend. Despite carrying the strongest reviews for a non-Pixar Disney animated pic in years, Bolt's debut paled in comparison to DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which debuted earlier this month to $63.1 million. The opening was similar to 2007's Meet the Robinsons, which bowed with $25.1 million. After seeing a 66% spike in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday (a combination of good word of mouth and the heavily skewed numbers for Twilight on Friday), expect good Thanksgiving numbers for the Disney toon.

The numbers, Nov. 21-23, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Twilight $70,553,000 3,419 $20,636 $70,553,000 -- 1 Summit
2 Quantum of Solace $27,400,000 3,458 $7,924 $109,483,000 -59.4 2 Sony
3 Bolt $27,000,000 3,651 $7,395 $27,000,000 -- 1 Buena Vista
4 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $16,000,000 4,007 $3,993 $137,447,000 -54.3 3 Paramount
5 Role Models $7,229,000 2,733 $2,645 $48,037,000 -35.2 3 Universal
6 Changeling $2,643,000 1,739 $1,520 $31,613,000 -37.9 5 Universal
7 High School Musical 3: Senior Year $2,006,000 2,361 $850 $86,821,000 -64.5 5 Buena Vista
8 Zack and Miri Make a Porno $1,700,000 1,222 $1,391 $29,350,000 -46.0 4 Weinstein Co.
9 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas $1,673,000 406 $4,121 $2,653,000 252.7 3 Miramax
10 The Secret Life of Bees $1,275,000 1,095 $1,164 $35,649,000 -45.5 6 Fox Searchlight

Sunday, November 16, 2008

'Quantum of Solace' shatters Bond record with $70.4m debut, Nov. 14-16, 2008

Thanks to a record-shattering debut from Quantum of Solace and a strong sophomore showing from last week's champ Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, the top two films this weekend grossed more than $100 million in ticket sales. The surge gave the top ten films a dramatic 55% bump in ticket sales over last year's comparable frame, when Beowulf debuted with $27.5 million.

Sony and MGM's necessary gamble to reboot the James Bond franchise with a new face (Daniel Craig) and more realistic style has officially paid off in spades, as the second film in their franchise reboot, Quantum of Solace, rocketed to the top spot this weekend with a record-breaking $70.4 million. Averaging an incredible $20,400 in 3,451 theaters, the PG-13 actioner shattered the previous best opening in the Bond franchise Die Another Day, which bowed in 2002 with $47.1 million. Craig's 2006 Casino Royale debuted with $40.8 million on its way to $167 million domestic (and $594 million worldwide).

Budgeted at a jaw-dropping $200 million, Solace had massive expectations to open bigger than any other Bond film. But thanks to a very soft November lineup of releases, a huge marketing push by Sony, the worldwide success of its immediate predecessor Casino Royale, and solid reviews, the Marc Forster directed pic still blew away industry expectations, posting the fifth biggest November opening in history.

If estimates hold, Quantum of Solace will have bested the debut of last year's blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum, a film franchise that seems to have heavily influenced the style of this latest incarnation of Bond films. Ultimatum opened in July and showed tremendous legs finishing with $227.5 million domestic and $442 million worldwide. Word of mouth will have to be extremely strong for Solace to match those numbers. Even if it doesn't hit $227 million, look for the Craig starrer to become the highest grossing Bond film ever domestic, currently held by Casino Royale's $167.4 million. Overseas, Solace continued to perform extraordinarily well, grossing another strong $56.1 million, bringing its international gross to $252 million.

Last week's champ Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa fell an encouraging 43% to $36.1 million, bringing its ten day take to $118 million. Budgeted at $150 million, the DreamWorks Animation/Paramount release most likely will surpass the $193.2 million domestic take of its 2005 predecessor. It will face steeper competition next weekend when Disney's computer-animated Bolt strikes theaters.

Universal's hit R-rated comedy Role Models fell just 39% to third, bringing its ten day take to $38.1 million. Budgeted at $28 million, the film should surpass $70 million domestic. Disney's High School Musical 3: Senior Year added another $5.9 million to its lucrative coffers, bringing the the $11 million budgeted pic's total to an amazing $84.4 million. Clint Eastwood's $55m budgeted Changeling fell 41% to $4.2 million, bringing the Universal drama's four week cume to $27.6 million.

The numbers, Nov. 14-16, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Quantum of Solace $70,400,000 3,451 $20,400 $70,400,000 -- 1 Sony
2 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $36,130,000 4,065 $8,888 $118,018,000 -42.7 2 Paramount
3 Role Models $11,710,000 2,798 $4,185 $38,137,000 -38.9 2 Universal
4 High School Musical 3: Senior Year $5,879,000 3,202 $1,836 $84,392,000 -35.8 4 Buena Vista
5 Changeling $4,247,000 1,896 $2,240 $27,625,000 -41.4 4 Universal
6 Zack and Miri Make a Porno $3,200,000 2,210 $1,448 $26,519,000 -49.0 3 Weinstein Co.
7 Soul Men $2,428,000 2,048 $1,186 $9,449,000 -55.1 2 MGM
8 The Secret Life of Bees $2,400,000 1,449 $1,656 $33,689,000 -22.3 5 Fox Searchlight
9 Saw V $1,786,000 2,002 $892 $55,399,000 -56.1 4 Lionsgate
10 The Haunting of Molly Hartley $1,650,000 1,587 $1,040 $12,696,000 -50.3 3 Freestyle

Monday, November 10, 2008

'Madagascar 2' tops post-Election weekend with $63.5m, Nov. 7-9, 2008

With Americans still abuzz from Tuesday's historic and widely followed Presidential election, moviegoers opted to spend the weekend at the nation's cineplexes, with DreamWorks Animation's sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa leading the way with a potent $63.5 million debut. Universal's comedy Role Models debuted in a strong second with $19.3 million. Together the top two openers helped push the box office to an incredible 32% increase from last year's comparable frame.

DreamWorks Animation's computer-animated sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa posted the seventh biggest opening in history for an animated release, debuting with a massive $63.5 million this weekend. Launching in an ultrawide 4,056 theaters, the animated comedy averaged a hefty $15,656, edging past the $63.1 million debut of this summer's Wall-E as well as the $60.2 million debut of June's PDI/DreamWorks hit Kung Fu Panda for the biggest animated opening of 2008.

If estimates hold, the $63.5 million debut would be the fifth largest November bow in history, behind only 2004's The Incredibles ($70.5 million) and Harry Potter installments 1, 3 and 4. It also surpassed its 2005 predecessor Madagascar, which debuted with $47.2 million on its way to $193.2 million domestic. Given the original film's popularity internationally (the film made $531 million globally), look for a similarly strong total for this latest release.

Universal's R-rated buddy comedy Role Models debuted strongly in second with $19.3 million, surpassing most industry estimates for the film. Averaging a very strong $6,895 in 2,792 theaters, the Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd starrer was well-received by critics, and should experience a strong run theatrically.

Falling two spots to third was two-week champ High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which slipped 39% to $9.3 million. Budgeted at a modest $11 million, the Disney musical has now amassed $75.7 million, and could break $100 million domestically by the end of its run.

Angelina Jolie's Changeling slipped just 22% in its second weekend of wide release, finishing in fourth with $7.3 million. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the Universal release has now grossed $20.6 million. Look for the drama to finish with $40-45 million domestic.

Rounding out the top five was Kevin Smith's comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which slipped a scant 35% from its debut a week ago to gross $6.5 million this weekend. In ten days the Weinstein Co. release has grossed $20.9 million.

The MGM/Weinstein co-production Soul Men debuted poorly in sixth with $5.6 million, averaging just $2,750 in 2,044 theaters. Starring the late Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson, the poorly-reviewed R-rated comedy will most likely see a quick exit from the top ten.

Thanks to the massive debut from Madagascar 2 and the better than expected bow from Role Models, the top ten films grossed a hefty $124.9 million, up 32% from last year's comparable frame when DreamWorks' Bee Movie took over the top spot with $25.6 million.

Now that the box office is cranking, expect boffo business for the next installment in the Bond franchise, Quantum of Solace, which opens nationwide next weekend.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The numbers, Nov. 7-9, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa $63,500,000 4,056 $15,656 $63,500,000 -- 1 Paramount
2 Role Models $19,251,000 2,792 $6,895 $19,251,000 -- 1 Universal
3 High School Musical 3: Senior Year $9,293,000 3,464 $2,683 $75,707,000 -39.3 3 Buena Vista
4 Changeling $7,281,000 1,855 $3,925 $20,588,000 -22.1 3 Universal
5 Zack and Miri Make a Porno $6,521,000 2,735 $2,384 $20,933,000 -35.2 2 Weinstein Co.
6 Soul Men $5,620,000 2,044 $2,750 $5,620,000 -- 1 MGM
7 Saw V $4,195,000 2,829 $1,483 $52,315,000 -56.9 3 Lionsgate
8 The Haunting of Molly Hartley $3,490,000 2,576 $1,355 $10,235,000 -35.6 2 Freestyle
9 The Secret Life of Bees $3,125,000 1,481 $2,110 $29,938,000 -22.1 4 Fox Searchlight
10 Eagle Eye $2,594,000 1,407 $1,844 $96,401,000 -25.5 7 Paramount

Sunday, November 2, 2008

'High School Musical 3' holds top spot over Halloween weekend, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2008

Halloween spooked last week's champ and runner-up, while three debuts finished in the top five, as American ready themselves for what appears to be a truly historic election on Tuesday, November 4th.

Leading the charge for the second straight weekend despite taking a hefty 64% dive (mostly due to Halloween falling on a Friday) was Disney's hit musical High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which put up another strong $15 million this weekend pushing its ten day total to $61.8 million. Budgeted at a modest $11 million, the G-rated Zac Efron starrer should rake in an impressive $85 million domestic. Internationally, High School Musical 3 brought in $25.9 million, bringing its overseas take to $85 million and worldwide haul to a jaw-dropping $146.8 million.

The Weinstein Co.'s Kevin Smith comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno debuted in second with $10.7 million, averaging a lackluster $3,906 in 2,735 theaters. The R-rated release starring Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks was the second biggest debut ever for director Smith, edging out the $10.1 million bow from 2006's Clerks II. His career best is still 2001's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back with $11 million. Reviews were mostly positive.

Halloween staple Saw V saw an equally massive 66% dive thanks to Halloween falling on a Friday, as the Lionsgate release brought in $10.1 million in third. In ten days the $11 million budgeted horror film has grossed $45.8 million, and should finish with $55 million domestic.

In its first weekend in wide release, Angelina Jolie's drama Changeling brought in $9.4 million in fourth, averaging a solid $5,085 in 1,850 theaters. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the Universal release has now grossed $10.1 million domestic. Reviews were largely mixed.

Rounding out the top five was Freestyle Releasing's horror entry The Haunting of Molly Hartley, which debuted with $6 million this weekend. Averaging a weak $2,262 in 2,652 theaters, the film could earn top honors as the worst reviewed film of 2008. Hartley received a 0% recommendation rating from 19 critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com (the film was not pre-screened for critics).

As I mentioned earlier, Halloween falling on Friday really hurt last week's two major releases (both falling over 60%), with the top ten films pulling in just $70 million over the weekend, down 39% from last week's comparable frame when American Gangster earned the top spot with $43.6 million.

The numbers, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 High School Musical 3: Senior Year $15,035,000 3,626 $4,146 $61,753,000 -64.2 2 Buena Vista
2 Zack and Miri Make a Porno $10,682,000 2,735 $3,906 $10,682,000 -- 1 Weinstein Co.
3 Saw V $10,112,000 3,084 $3,279 $45,839,000 -66.4 2 Lionsgate
4 Changeling $9,407,000 1,850 $5,085 $10,087,000 -- 2 Universal
5 The Haunting of Molly Hartley $6,000,000 2,652 $2,262 $6,000,000 -- 1 Freestyle
6 Beverly Hills Chihuahua $4,747,000 3,004 $1,580 $84,061,000 -31.0 5 Buena Vista
7 The Secret Life of Bees $4,000,000 1,611 $2,483 $25,287,000 -33.9 3 Fox Searchlight
8 Max Payne $3,700,000 2,564 $1,443 $35,550,000 -52.5 3 Fox
9 Eagle Eye $3,400,000 2,007 $1,694 $92,534,000 -32.7 6 Paramount
10 Pride and Glory $3,260,000 2,585 $1,261 $11,616,000 -47.9 2 Warner Bros.