November 24, 2011

BIJOU BOXOFFICE: Wednesday Studio Scorecard – 11/23/11


The holiday movie season is not off to a roaring start.
BREAKING DAWN PART 1:  The giant franchise will of course win Thanksgiving weekend.  But its $12.5M Wednesday gross was down 12% from what New Moon did on the day before Thanksgiving in 2009, which suggests a 5-day weekend that might be at $58M rather than the $66M earned by New Moon.  That would leave Breaking Dawn 1 $14M below New Moon‘s post-Thanksgiving weekend total–a decline, of course, that in the context of a picture that will make over $250M is a high-class problem to have, but it still makes Twilight another franchise to see a decline in its US popularity in 2011.

THE MUPPETS‘ $6.6M on Wednesday guarantees it 2d place for the holiday weekend, but it’s down almost 45% from what Tangled did in its opening day last year on the day before Thanksgiving.  (In fairness, Muppets also cost a fraction of Tangled‘s budget, so in terms of profitability it’s still in fine shape.)
ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, which happens to be thoroughly charming, is in a far worse place financially, with a woeful opening that seems headed for a $50M US toal.  That wouldn’t even pay for its US marketing, much less its $100M+ production budget.  Also, it’s a movie that naturally would gain appeal as we get closer to Christmas itself, but with these numbers Sony may have a very hard time holding on to theatres for that long.
HUGO, although it may also end up losing plenty of money, is in a somewhat different position.  Paramount is trying to play a two-fold strategy with it, launching in a medium-size 1277 theatre run, while hoping it can get some traction with adults (parents included) as critics’ awards start to pour in at the beginning of December, enough to justify an expansion as the holiday season continues. It’s a risky play, since competition for multiplex screens will only increase as wide releases continue to open next month–but it’s pretty much the only move they have, since Hugo simply doesn’t have a marketing hook that can pull in young audiences quickly.
HOLDOVERS:  No good news here.  HAPPY FEET TWO, facing much fiercer competition for the family crowd, crashed to a number more than 60% below what the original Happy Feet had made the day before Thanksgiving 2006.  Even if it overperforms overseas, as 3D animations tend to do, it’ll have a hard time seeing any profit.  JACK AND JILL, J. EDGAR and the other underachievers showed little promise.
INDIES:  The big move of the day was Fox Searchlight’s expansion of THE DESCENDANTS into 390 theatres.  where it made about $1M.  That should get it to $7-8M for the 5-day weekend.  These are solid but not huge numbers:  the film’s $2500 per-theatre average yesterday was below Breaking Dawn 1‘s $3K, even though Descendants is in only 10% of the theatres.  No numbers in yet for the 123-theatre opening of MY WEEKEND WITH MARILYN, which will double on Friday, or the 4-theatre launch of A DANGEROUS METHOD.   THE ARTIST will also begin its run in 4 theatres on Friday, and LIKE CRAZY will expand again, to 150 theatres in total.
Next weekend there are no wide openings, as holiday shopping will begin in earnest.  Fox Searchlight will take advantage of the quiet to garner plenty of attention for its 9-theatre launch of the NC-17 SHAME, a movie that needs critical passion if it’s to move beyond the arthouse circuit.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."