Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Box Office Review

Sorry about not getting up a report for December 9-11, but I wanted to wait for Kong receipts for Wednesday and kill two birds with one stone. Then the numbers were low and I needed to rethink, so here we are:

Box Office Receipts for December 9-11:

1. Chronicles of Narnia - $65.5 million
2. Syriana - $11.7 million
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - $10.3 million
4. Walk The Line - $5.7 million
5. Yours, Mine and Ours - $5.0 million
6. Aeon Flux - $4.6 million
7. Just Friends - $3.8 million
8. Pride and Prejudice - $2.6 million
9. Chicken Little - $2.3 million
10. Rent - $2.0 million

and Box Office Receipts for December 16-18:

1. King Kong - $50.1 million
2. Chronicles of Narnia - $31.8 million
3. The Family Stone - $12.5 million
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - $5.9 million
5. Syriana - $5.6 million
6. Walk The Line - $3.7 million
7. Yours, Mine and Ours - $3.5 million
8. Brokeback Mountain - $2.5 million
9. Just Friends - $2.1 million
10. Aeon Flux - $1.7 million

Both weekends were significantly up from last year, when Ocean's Twelve and Lemony Snicket opened on the two weekends. Narnia looks to be a winner, cracking $113 million in two weeks. That makes it the 16th film to break the $100 million barrier. Harry Potter broke the $250 million barrier, leaving it just $10 million behind Chamber of Secrets for second-biggest grosser in the series. Of greater interest though is the fact that the film has cracked $700 million in worldwide receipts. That is still, believe it or not, last in the series, which has grossed a staggering $3.34 BILLION (Sorceror's Stone: $976mm, Chamber of Secrets: $876mm, Azkaban: $789mm). Walk the Line has climbed to $82 million and will have to struggle to make $100 million, but it has passed 2004's Ray to become the biggest biographical release ever (like you care).

While some films excel, the detritus pile grows ever bigger. Aeon Flux is officially a loser, dropping 61.6% of box office the past weekend. Looks like it will top out domestically at $26-$28 million, about 40% of its $62 million production cost. The same holds for Rent, which was pulled from over half its screens and shed 62.5% of its receipts from the previous week. An estimated top level of $30 million is 25% short of its $40 million production cost. Legend of Zorro (60% of costs), Jarhead (85% of costs), Get Rich or Die Tryin' (75% of costs), The Weather Man (52% of costs), Elizabethtown (60% of costs) and North Country (53% of costs) are all examples of late-year studio failures. Based on their performances this year, it's going to be hard for Charlize Theron (North Country and Aeon Flux) and Nicolas Cage (God of War and The Weather Man) to justify big salaries in the immediate future.

Oscar runs have been doing pretty well. Brokeback Mountain cracked this week's top 10 despite only being in 69 theatres (a per-screen average of $36,354). Memoirs of a Geisha ($25,044 per screen on 52 screens) and The Producers ($25,765 per screen on 6 screens) are also doing well. The same cannot be said for Dame Judi Dench's Mrs. Henderson Presents ($7,081 per screen on 6 screens), Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada ($4,711 per screen on 5 screens) or Transamerica ($6,798 per screen on 3 screens).

Now, Kong. As soon as I saw the results, I realized I forgot one very important point in estimating how Kong would do at the B.O. The movie runs three hours plus and didn't really have a built-in audience like the film I was boldly (stupidly) comparing it to (Return of the King). At three hours, many theatres will only run the film once per night, halving the maximum number of viewers per night. Kong did do over $14,000 per screen on a one-viewing-per-night basis, so that's actually very good. I read somewhere this week that Kong's opening weekend was in line with Titanic and a check of the figures shows that to be true. If 1997 dollars are converted to 2005 dollars, Kong is probably about 20% below Titanic's opening weekend. The film's director, Peter Jackson (like Titanic's James Cameron), will bring in a few folks on name recognition, but it will be hugely dependent on word of mouth.

The key will be checking the second week's numbers, which will be up against eleven new releases, including tomorrow's releases of Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and the Jim Carrey vehicle Fun With Dick and Jane. Friday includes Johnny Knoxville's new "comedy" The Ringer, the Steven Spielberg thriller Munich, and expanded releases of Memoirs of a Geisha and Brokeback Mountain. The glut concludes Sunday with wide releases of the Jennifer Aniston comedy Rumor Has It, the horror flick Wolf Creek and the expanded release of The Producers. Also, Heath Ledger's new film Casanova comes out for a limited Academy Award release.

There you go. See you next week.