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Sunday, December 28, 2008

'Marley & Me' laps up jam-packed Christmas weekend with $51.7m opening, Dec. 26-28, 2008

Proving that movies really just might be recession proof, four of five major new releases debuted with more than $30 million from the Thursday-Sunday holiday frame, while overall the box office posted its second biggest weekend of 2008 led by a phenomenal opening from Fox's dramedy Marley & Me. Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories and Brad Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button battled it out for second place, while Tom Cruise's WWII drama Valkyrie opened better than expected in fourth.

With Christmas falling on a Thursday this year, studios packed in five major new releases to take advantage of the extended holiday weekend. But instead of cannibalizing each other, the marketplace proved to be big enough to accommodate at least four, with the biggest benefactor being the Jennifer Aniston-Owen Wilson starrer Marley & Me, which took in $37 million over the Friday-Sunday period and an incredible $51.7 million over the full four day holiday frame. For Fox Studios, the debut was an incredibly sweet way to end one of their most challenging years in recent memory. Averaging a whopping $10,632 in 3,480 theaters, the film adaptation of John Gorgon's bestselling book posted the second biggest opening of 2008 for Fox, behind only March's Horton Hears a Who with $45 million.

Marketed heavily everywhere as the crowd-pleaser of Christmas weekend, Marley & Me shrugged of mixed reviews to post a record $14.7 million Christmas Day bow, easily beating 2001's Ali with $10.2 million. The film had steady business the entire weekend with daily totals of $14.7m (Thurs.), $14m (Fri.), $12.7m, and $10.2m. With many Americans off of work for the remainder of the year, look for Marley & Me to potentially break $100 million domestic by next weekend.

Disney's adventure pic Bedtime Stories battled it out with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for the No. 2 spot this weekend, with the Adam Sandler pic edging Brad Pitt over the three-day weekend with $28 million to $27 million, and Button leading the four-day holiday frame with $39 million compared with Bedtime's $38.6 million. Shrugging off very poor reviews from critics, the Adam Sandler starrer averaged a strong $7,625 in 3,681 theaters.

If estimates hold, Brad Pitt's big budget epic The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will finish in third this weekend with $27 million and $39 million over the extended holiday frame. Budgeted at a staggering $150 million, the Paramount release averaged $9,036 in 2,988 theaters. Directed by David Fincher and co-starring Cate Blanchett, the film's totals were hampered a bit by the daunting 2 hour and 47 minute run-time. Nominated for five Golden Globes including Best Dramatic Picture, the film should see strong legs throughout the Awards season. Co-produced by Warner Bros., that studio will release the film on the international market.

Tom Cruise's well-received WWII drama Valkyrie debuted in fourth with $21.5 million over the weekend and $30 million since its Thursday bow, surpassing industry expectations. Despite the busy weekend the $75 million budgeted United Artists pic averaged a healthy $7,942 in 2,711 theaters. The debut was a big improvement from last year's flop Lions for Lambs, which debuted in November with just $6.7 million. It was Cruise's best opening since 2006's Mission: Impossible III debuted with $47.7 million, marking the beginning of the end of the actor's long relationship with Paramount Pictures.

Rounding out the top five was Jim Carrey's comedy Yes Man, which fell just 10% this weekend to $16.5 million. In two weeks the Warner release has grossed $49.6 million, but may have trouble sustaining itself long enough to break $100 million domestic.

The only new release this weekend failing to gain traction was Lionsgate's comic adaptation The Spirit, which debuted with just $6.5 million in 2,509 theaters for a very weak $2,593 average. Directed by famed graphic novelist Frank Miller (300, Sin City), the debut was clearly a major disappointment given the $29.1 million opening his 2005 hit Sin City opened with (Miller co-directed City with Robert Rodriguez).

Out of the top ten for the first time was Summit Entertainment's blockbuster Twilight, which took in $4.5 million over the weekend, pushing the $37 million budgeted pic's total to an amazing $167 million.

Thanks to four massive new Christmas releases, the top ten films grossed an estimated $172.9 million, up 9% from last year's comparable frame when National Treasure: Book of Secrets held on to the top spot with $36.7 million.


risthina said...

Some things in life change with little difference. I always love to see movies with pets. Marley is the perfect person gave this young couple luck. He is full of adventure. Seems to be that pet lovers will appreciate this movie very much I saw on http://www.80millionmoviesfree.com to day fantastic movie for every body I think.

coffee buzz said...

Marley and Me is money to a great extent because Jennifer Aniston is money; Owen Wilson is... not so much

Stephen Wong said...

I agree coffeebuzz, I thought Owen Wilson was horribly miscast in it, but the movie still worked. And it appears audiences are willing to overlook it given the great b.o. numbers.