I have never predicted the Christmas weekend box office before, and boy did it show. I predicted 4 of the 5 films in the top 5, and got only 2 in their correct spot. People definitely went to the theatres this weekend, as THREE films had grosses that were over $50 million. Here’s the breakdown:
Avatar remained the #1 film for the second week in a row, slipping a scant 2.6% for a gross of $75 million (I predicted a 2nd place finish with a gross of $53.9 million). Audiences are really digging James Cameron’s latest film. It had the strongest per theatre average in the top ten with $21,701, and even the doubters of the film have to admit that it is off to a very impressive start. Have you ever heard of a film that opened with over $70 million, having virtually the same gross in its second week? The Dark Knight dropped 52.5% in its second weekend as a point of comparison. This is far and away the biggest story in Hollywood right now. In two weeks Avatar has taken in $212.2 million.
Opening strong in 2nd place was Sherlock Holmes with $65.3 million (I predicted a 1st place finish with a gross of $55 million). It’s not often that a film opens this strong, and it doesn’t finish in 1st place, but it happened this weekend. Warner Bros. has a hit to end the year, and there is a chance that Sherlock Holmes could be #1 next weekend, which is what the marketers want to happen. It had an excellent per theatre average of $18,031, and movie-goers were interested in Robert Downey Jr.’s take on the classic character. I’m telling you, this Robert Downey Jr. is going to be a star someday J
In 3rd place is Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel with a gross of $50.2 million (I predicted a 3rd place finish and a gross of $50 million). The film had a better opening weekend than the original, and was definitely the family film of the weekend. The per theatre average was great at $13,568, but sequels see a larger up front demand, and then fade away. We’ll see if that is the case with this film. Since its mid-week opening, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel has grossed $77 million.
Debuting in 4th place is Nora Ephron’s It’s Complicated with $22.1 million (I predicted a 4th place finish and a gross of $18 million). The per theatre average was a relatively low (compared to the three films ahead of it at the box office) $7,660. The adult comedy starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin overcame some disappointing reviews to have a strong opening weekend, but I don’t think it will have much in the way of staying power as adult audiences tend to see strongly reviewed films.
5th place is a very tight battle as two films are battling it out, and are separated by $25,000. Right now Up In The Air is the 5th place film with a gross of $11.755 million, while The Blind Side is the 6th place film with a gross of $11,730 million. Up In The Air expanded its theatre count and saw a 266.2% (that is not a typo – 266.2%!!!) increase in business. It had a per theatre average of $6,203 and is really building some Oscar buzz heading into awards season. The total gross for Up In The Air stands at $24.5 million after four weeks. The Blind Side also saw an uptick in business going up 17.1% from last week. It had a per theatre average of $4,241 and in six weeks, the film has taken in $184.3 million. We’ll see where these films end up when the final numbers come out.
As I mentioned The Princess and The Frog in my predictions, I should tell you where it finished up. It was a disappointment to me finishing in 7th place with a gross of $8.6 million (I predicted a 5th place finish and a gross of $15 million). The film suffered a 28.7% drop from last weekend’s gross. I thought it would have a bigger impact at the box office with families, especially over the holiday season (it’s a Disney film after all), but I was wrong. It’s per theatre average was $2,499, and in five weeks it has taken $63.3 million, and is nearing the end of its run.
There was only one story in terms of films in limited release, and that is the opening of Heath Ledger’s last film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Playing in 4 theatres, the film took in $132,000 for a per theatre average of $32,500 (highest of any film at the box office this weekend). Terry Gilliam films are definitely polarizing, and tend not to be very commercial, but everyone involved with the film has to be happy with the start.
To recap, here were my predictions:
1) Sherlock Holmes – $55 million
2) Avatar – $53.9 million
3) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel – $50 million
4) It’s Complicated – $18 million
5) The Princess and the Frog – $15 million
And here are the final numbers:
1) Avatar – $75 million
2) Sherlock Holmes – $65.3 million
3) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel – $50.2 million
4) It’s Complicated – $22.1 million
5) Up In The Air – $11.7 million
My predictions were off by 20 + 10.3 + .2 + 4.1 + 6.4 = $41 million
Next week there are no major new releases. Two films opening in limited release are The White Ribbon and The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond. Check back on New Year’s Day to see my predictions for next weekend!