1. Marley and Me - $37M - $51.6M
2. Bedtime Stories - $28M - $38.5M
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - $27.2M - $39M
4. Valkyrie - $21.5M - $30M
5. Yes Man - $16.4M - $49.5M
6. Seven Pounds - $13.4M - $39M
7. The Tale of Despereaux - $9.3M - $27.9M
8. The Day the Earth Stood Still - $7.9M - $63.6M
9. The Spirit - $6.5M - $10.3M
10. Doubt - $5.6M - $8.8M
Numbers are inflated somewhat this weekend thanks to the five new releases opening on Christmas Day to some record breaking numbers. The holdovers faired much worse than expected over the festive days, especially The Tale of Despereaux, which tumbled from third to tenth during the Christmas eve/day period. The above numbers reflect the three day (Fri-Sun) take and the overall take since release.
We had some big hitters show up on Christmas Day, big stars, Oscar contenders, but a couple and their Labrador put paid to all the competition and broke the Christmas Day take record in the process. Our huge number one movie is comedy Marley & Me, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as a couple who buy a puppy who goes on to turn their lives upside down, while teaching them about life and love as well. The family friendly film probably wasn't even on most radars until it became the film of choice on Christmas Day to the tune of $14.6M, smashing the previous record held by 2001's Ali. Word of mouth helped the film continue on that path going into the weekend and while Bedtime Stories gained some ground, it still couldn't beat that little dog. There's no doubt that come Monday morning, Marley & Me will be knee deep in profit.
But Marley wasn't the only film to break records - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the epic Brad Pitt drama also opened higher than Ali, as did Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories. Button has been in various forms of production for many years. Based on a F.Scott Fitzgerald short story, it took Brad Pitt and director David Fincher (not to mention the rumoured $180M budget) to bring the adaptation to the big screen and it too got off to strong start. Any other year and Button would have comfortably taken the top spot and strong word of mouth (along with awards talk) should keep it in the top five for some weeks to come. The film's extended running time might have hampered it somewhat but some impressive trailers and good reviews made it amongst the top choices for a Christmas cinema visit. And Button didn't have the dramatic market to itself either - Valkyrie, the Tom Cruise Hitler assassination movie also opened on Christmas day (more in a moment).
Rounding out the big Christmas hitters is the latest film from Adam Sandler, Bedtime Stories, which saw $10M on Christmas Day. Sandler has seen his star lose a little of the sparkle these last years, with both You Don't Mess With The Zohan and Chuck & Larry under performing. In his latest flick Sandler stars as a handyman whose bedtime stories, told to his niece and nephew, start to become real (a similar plot to the upcoming Inkheart). Bedtime Stories, going into the holidays, was expecting to have to duke it out with Benjamin Button for the top spot, but that was before Marley & Me turned up and spoilt their party somewhat. Going into the weekend Bedtime Stories began to pull a bit more of the family market back its way and ended up ahead of Button for the weekend. That overall take is strong but go back a few years and Sandler would have surpassed that total with just one standard weekend of takings.
Tom Cruise's Valkyrie hasn't had an easy ride to the big screen. Filming ran into problems in Germany, extras were injured on the set and the film's release date has been moved back and forth more than once during the last year. Cruise is also fighting the usual Scientology backlash, not to mention his apparent lack of anything resembling a German accent. The initial trailer didn't help things but recent footage was received more positively. While the film didn't break any records, it still got off to a commendable start, reaping in $8M from Christmas Day. Not a huge figure but it's one of the least likely Christmas films on general release. The film reviewed above average, at around 63% fresh with Rotten Tomatoes (Button scored 73%) and signals a decent end of year for Cruise after also winning some good notices for his cameo in Tropic Thunder back in August. The film actually began to gain some momentum going into the weekend as perhaps the target market had already seen Benjamin Button on Christmas day.
Of existing releases, Yes Man continues to outperform Seven Pounds but neither film set the box office on fire last weekend, with most analysts stating how disappointing their respective takes were. Faced with competition on all sides but especially the family and dramatic market, both films received a battering, managing $5.9M and $4.7M on Christmas Day. The weekend told a slightly better story for them, down around 10% from their opening weekend. Despereaux, which opened quite well last weekend collapsed almost as badly as The Spirit did over the Christmas period but managed a strong second weekend recovery, leaving it down just 7% from its opening three day take.
The Spirit, the final new release this past week collapsed almost instantly upon release. The Frank Miller comic adaptation received some of the worst reviews of the year with even fans of the style steering clear. Was it a spoof? A bad Christmas joke? Hard to say, but most critics (and fans) were sure it was awful. After co-directing Sin City, Frank Miller was given the chance to direct a big screen version of The Spirit but appears to have struggled without Robert Rodriguez by his side. The big name cast featuring Scarlet Johannsen, Eva Mendes and Samuel J Jackson among others, will all try to forget this film as fast as they possibly can - something the general public already seem to have done.
Day The Earth Stood Still might be performing ok on the international market but its taking a hammering on the domestic market. Having opened just two weekends ago the film is barely able to scrape a top ten placement. When final receipts are in it should turn a profit, just, but stands as yet another example of why Hollywood should leave best alone. Expanding into 1,267 location this weekend allowed the Meryl Streep drama Doubt to gain a place in the top ten. The limited releases making it into the top ten last weekend have quickly departed this weekend. Slumdog Millionaire held up the best of them.