Monday 6 June 2011

US Box Office - 25th - 27th December 2009

1. Avatar - $75M - $212.3M
2. Sherlock Holmes - $65.8M - $65.8M
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - $50.2M - $77.1M
4. It's Complicated - $22.1M - $22.1M
5. Up In the Air - $11.8M - $24.5M
6. The Blind Side - $11.7M - $184.3M
7. The Princess and the Frog - $8.6M - $63.3M
8. Nine - $5.5M - $5.5M
9. Did You Hear About the Morgans? - $5M - $15.5M
10. Invictus - $4.3M - $23.3M

Slightly shorter version of the box office report as we have too much cake and chocolate that requires eating.

Avatar opened well last weekend, narrowly missing out on the December opening record by a few thousand once actuals were released. With many people having the entire Christmas period off, we were set up for a number of bigger than average days. Avatar went onto make $16M on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, seeing a dip in takings on just Christmas Eve, when it still took in a strong $11M. Competition raised its head on Wednesday with the release of Alvin & The Chipmunks 2, which saw an impressive $19M (and scored a few Avatar beating headlines in the process), but by Thursday Avatar had moved back into first place and was readying itself for Sherlock Holmes. A quick conclusion - this has been the biggest weekend in cinematic history, with Sherlock Holmes taking the biggest December 25th opening record for a start. The total box office for the weekend is an estimated $275M (biggest ever weekend), with 2009 being the first time that ticket sales have ever exceeded $10B.

Guy Ritchie's biggest budget for his biggest ever film. Sherlock Holmes cost in excess of $80M and opened worldwide on or around 25th December. Robert Downey Jnr took on the titular role with support from Jude Law as Watson. The film faced criticism after the first trailer emerged thanks to Ritchie playing up some of Holmes' more action-based skills but as time wore on, anticipation grew. Reviews were above average (in line with Snatch and Lock, Stock...) and while the film faced strong competition from Avatar's second frame, it managed a very solid Christmas Day start of $24M. Throughout the rest of the weekend the film held well but the curious took a chance on Avatar, leaving Holmes having to settle for a second place position. It's unlikely WB, who are hoping to create a franchise from the character, are concerned about losing out to Avatar considering how well the film performed. Not forgetting too, that many schools and the like still have another week off, giving Sherlock Holmes plenty more opportunity to reach $100M. Furthermore, with no new releases next weekend the film won't face any new major competition in its second frame. As an aside, once Iron Man 2 opens in May, it'll mark Robert Downey Jnr's fourth $100M+ movie within two years.

Avatar's main competition last weekend was the snowstorms which hit on Saturday and Sunday. While Sherlock gave it some trouble on Friday the film managed to pull ahead on the Saturday as it became not only people's choice for a holiday film but also managed to rope in some of the cinema goers who were affected by the snow last weekend. Internationally the film is performing even better, more than doubling its domestic take. Within the space of a week, any thoughts that Avatar would be a disaster and be unable to recoup its huge production budget have quickly vanished. It's also worth noting again that while the film may lose screens to some of the upcoming releases, it'll remain in Imax and many 3D enabled locations until March, when it will give them up to Alice in Wonderland. Before midweek there's every chance Avatar will have made half a billion dollars. There's already talk that the film could overtake The Dark Knight in terms of domestic earnings but it's early days yet. The fact that the film saw such a strong second weekend performance (down just a few percent from last weekend) means that word of mouth is already working hard and the increased cost of tickets for 3D movies is helping no end. Records-wise, Avatar had the second biggest weekend take of any film with the exception of The Dark Knight.

After taking in a staggering $217M back in the December of 2007, an Alvin & The Chipmunks sequel was assured. This time out the film opened strong on Wednesday before becoming the family film for the holiday period. The first film cost $60M to produce, a figure it had recouped within the first ten days. While budget figures aren't available it's pretty much a cert to say the film has recouped its production budget within its opening five days and should be approaching, if not surpassing, $100M by next weekend. It'll face no direct competition until The Tooth Fairy at the tale end of January. Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel has every chance of surpassing the already impressive take of the original film.

Christmas week bought something for everyone. The teenagers went with Avatar and Sherlock, the family with Alvin so where does that leave everyone else? They appear to have gone and seen the romantic comedy It's Complicated, starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. The film, aimed squarely at the middle-aged demographic also saw a strong $22M for the weekend off the back of some middling reviews. This is the kind of film that can quietly see $70-80M in no time at all, thanks to that largely under-represented cinema-going group.

Having performed well in a very limited release, Up In The Air cracks into the top ten after expansion last Wednesday into 1895 locations. The George Clooney drama, which has received a number of Golden Globe nominations along with some critic awards during early December, has exemplary word of mouth and could see a few decent weekends in the top ten. The film's relatively low budget of $25M is practically recouped at this stage. This marks a high finish for Clooney who saw disappointment with The Men Who Stare at Goats and the domestic failure of Fantastic Mr Fox.

Even the six week old Sandra Bullock feel-good drama The Blind Side managed a double figure weekend take. Like Up in the Air, The Blind Side scored a number of Golden Globe nominations and may end up pushing Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian out of the top ten domestic earners of 2009. (Which is quite annoying when you've already written the top ten review of 2009). The Princess and The Frog picked up some business from those who'd already seen the Alvin sequel (or felt it wasn't for them) but it's really just treading water. The film is sadly still a long way from recouping its $105M budget and will need to rely heavily on its international take, provided Disney give the film the support it deserves.

Our final new entry this festive weekend is Nine, the Rob Marshall musical which features a number of major stars including Daniel Day Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz. With such a strong cast one has to wonder what went wrong - a poor opening take and a 41% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The film seems to have left many cold and it's unlikely to expand further or see any kind of performance boost. This one cost the Weinstein Company at least $80M to produce and comes just a few weeks after the relative failure of The Road, a film which actually took Nine's original release date.

The disastrous opening of Did You Hear About The Morgans? has managed to spread into its second weekend on release. Worse still is the fact that the film cost $58M to produce and is looking likely to finish with around $20M. A costly mistake for all concerned and makes one wonder how you spend $58M on a romantic comedy with no major effects or location work.

Rounding us out is the Clint Eastwood flick Invictus. The $60M budgeted Nelson Mandela pic has so far made $23M and is unlikely to see another weekend in the top ten. The only hope for the film now is at awards time but even that is unlikely to have any effect on its box office.

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