1. The Pursuit of Happyness - $27M - $27M
2. Eragon - $23.4M - $23.4M
3. Charlotte's Web - $12M - $12M
4. Happy Feet - $8.5M - $149.4M
5. The Holiday - $8.2M - $25.3M
6. Apocalypto - $7.7M - $27.9M
7. Blood Diamond - $6.2M - $18.3M
8. Casino Royale - $5.7M - $137.5M
9. The Nativity Story - $4.7M - $23M
10. Unaccompanied Minors - $3.6M - $10.2M
The new Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness (misspelling intentional) scores a strong opening weekend from under 3000 locations. The film is Smith's first since Hitch and was expected to finish behind both Eragon and Charlotte's Web. Based on a true story, Happyness is the tale of a single father struggling to bring up his son while trying to hold down an internship at a Wall St company. The Golden Globe nomination this week may also have given the film a boost, with reviews being good, but singling out Smith's work for high praise.
Eragon was expected to clean up this week so finishing nearly $3.5M behind Happyness won't please the studios who were hoping for a strong start for the $90M movie. A lot has also been lavished on advertising/tie-ins but with a lacklustre trailer and book that hasn't anywhere near the same cachet as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, one has to wonder if it's already over for the potential Eragon franchise. The movie needs to stay strong over the holidays if it has any chance of recouping that budget. Maybe people are over the fantasy epic for now?
Charlotte's Web, showing at more locations than any other movie, was also expected to open stronger than Pursuit of Happyness but it faced competition from the still-strong Happy Feet. Reviews were better than Eragon and the movie is expected to have stronger legs as we go into the last weeks of the year, with parents taking their children to see the movie over the main holiday (with Paramount hoping everyone will have finally seen Happy Feet by then, allowing another kids movie a slice of the market).
Estimates were a little off last week which led to The Holiday being placed at number 2 in the charts. By Monday however it was revealed that Happy Feet had done better and The Holiday a little worse than originally estimated. Happy Feet, now in its fifth weekend, sits just shy of $150M. Like Charlotte's Web, the movie might actually pick up more business next weekend. Only Cars & Ice Age 2 have taken more money in the animated CGI market this year.
The aforementioned 'Holiday' didn't fall as fast as Apocalypto but it still has a whopping $60M+ to recoup. Of course, a Christmas-set movie couldn't be released in July but throwing it into an already busy schedule has meant the movie had its potential market diluted considerably, not to mention the added competition of Christmas shopping and office parties (though all movies are affected by this to varying degrees). Apocalypto drops off 48% from last weekend but is saved somewhat by its low budget. It might not see Braveheart style business but it is far from the flop that some had predicated.
Blood Diamond loses only 27% of business from last weekend but given that its opening was so poor, this isn't really that surprising. With competition from all sides and a plot that obviously didn't appeal, the movie might just about see another weekend on the charts. Again, a glut of choice might have hurt the movie more than it would have in another six weeks time.
Casino Royale sees the biggest fall of its release but that won't worry the studio with the movie fast approaching $140M in the US and $400M worldwide. The only thing now is whether the movie will best the domestic record set by Die Another Day ($161M).
The top ten is rounded out by two movies that were both expected to perform much better, especially in the case of The Nativity Story. Neither movie will be troubling the top ten next weekend.
Elsewhere, Dreamgirls opened in a limited capacity, on just 3 screens, and took in $360,000. Also opening limited was the George Clooney movie The Good German, taking in $78,000 from five screens. Both movies will expand into more locations in the coming weeks.