The month of December has been very good to me in terms of predictions, and this week was no exception. I picked 4 of the 5 films in the top five (I could be 5 for 5 when final numbers come out on Monday), and my five predictions were off by less than $10 million. That’s not the important story. The question that you want answered is “How well did Avatar do?” Well, let’s get to it.
Avatar opened at #1 with a gross of $73 million (I predicted a #1 opening with a gross of $75 million). The film came out with guns a blazing thanks to a very strong marketing campaign that made sure you were aware the film was coming out this weekend, without really becoming annoying. Avatar had the highest per theatre average of any film in the top ten with $21,147. Some reports have indicated that the gross could have been higher if the bad weather on the east coast had not come into play, but Avatar should play well over the long run, as those people who missed it will most likely see the film over the holiday break, so it should not lose any business. Avatar had the 2nd highest December opening weekend ever, which is all the more impressive, because this was an original story. Here are the largest opening weekends in December:
1) I Am Legend – $77.2 million
2) Avatar – $73 million
3) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – $72.6 million
4) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – $65.5 million
5) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – $62 million
To bring the tie-in point again, I Am Legend was a remake of The Omega Man, so it was not based on original material, and the 3, 4, and 5 films were very popular books and had an avid fan base. That’s why I am so impressed with the gross of Avatar this weekend. The fact that the film was in 3-D and IMAX 3-D helped the final numbers, and I will be interested to see the breakdown between how much the film made in regular screenings, 3-D screenings, and IMAX 3-D screenings. Reviews were glowing for the film, so that should help bring out more adults in the coming weeks, and I think kids are already interested, and will pester their parents for money to go see Avatar. Overall, just an excellent start for Avatar.
In 2nd place is the #1 film from last weekend, The Princess and The Frog with a gross of $12.2 million (I predicted a #2 finish and a gross of $16.4 million). The film had a higher drop-off then I had expected in its second weekend of wide release, dropping 49.5%. Its per theatre average was a disturbingly low $3,518. I will cut the film some slack as now that kids are officially out of school, the numbers for the film should improve over the next two weeks, but I would think that Disney is not happy with the results of the film this weekend. Over four weeks of release, The Princess and The Frog has grossed $44.7 million.
In 3rd place is the big hit of the fall season The Blind Side with $10 million (I predicted a 3rd place finish and a gross of $9.4 million). The Sandra Bullock football drama fell 33.4% (the second lowest drop in the top ten), and had a per theatre average of $2,944. The budget on the film was a tiny $29 million, and over five weeks The Blind Side has grossed $164.7 million, and has officially become the highest grossing film of Sandra Bullock’s career, surpassing The Proposal’s gross of $163.9 million. It should be out of the top five next weekend, but it has been quite the run for this film.
In 4th place was the other new release of the weekend Did You Hear About the Morgan’s? with $7 million (I predicted a 4th place finish and a gross of $8 million). Like I said in my weekend predictions, I felt this film should have been made when Hugh Grant had a little more star power, and Sarah Jessica Parker was still popular on TV with Sex and The City. Audiences seemed to agree with me on this, as the film had a per theatre average of $2,575. Expect this film to fade fast, and be on DVD shelves very soon.
Rounding out the top five is The Twilight Saga: New Moon with a gross of $4.3 million (I incorrectly predicted that Invictus would be the #5 film, and therefore I did not have a prediction for The Twilight Saga: New Moon). The vampire/werewolf flick had a very tiny per theatre average of $1,440, and it is coming to the end of its run. Over five weeks, The Twilight Saga: New Moon has grossed $274.5 million, which makes it the 5th highest grossing film of 2009. It will shortly become the #4 film of 2009, as it will surpass The Hangover sometime this week, as that film has grossed $277.3 million.
Invictus, as mentioned above, was my pick to be the #5 film. It ended up as the #6 film with a gross of $4.1 million, which was off by 51.6% from last weekend, and it had a per theatre average of $1,962. When final numbers come out on Monday, Invictus could be the #5 film.
In other news, Up In The Air continues to impress, as it was the #8 film, with a gross of $3.1 million, which was up 29.5% from last weekend. It had an additional 103 theatres showing the film, making the theatre count 175, and it has a per theatre average of $17,714. Expect this film to have a very steady run over the coming weeks.
Here’s how the films in limited release did:
The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt grossed $148,000 from 20 theatres for a per theatre average of $7,400, which is low for a limited release film.
Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges grossed $84,200 from 4 theatres for a solid per theatre average of $21,050.
Nine starring Daniel Day-Lewis grossed $247,000 from 4 theatres for an excellent per theatre average of $61,750 (this was the highest per theatre average of any film this weekend).
So to recap, here were my predictions:
1) Avatar – $75 million
2) The Princess and The Frog – $16.4 million
3) The Blind Side – $9.4 million
4) Did You Hear About The Morgans? – $8 million
5) Invictus – $6.3 million
And here are the final numbers:
1) Avatar – $73 million
2) The Princess and The Frog – $12.2 million
3) The Blind Side – $10 million
4) Did You Hear About The Morgans? – $7 million
5) The Twilight Saga: New Moon – $4.3 million
My box office predictions were off by $9.9 million
Opening this coming weekend are It’s Complicated, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and Sherlock Holmes.
Until next week!