December 24, 2011



The 2011 box office slump continues in full force.  The top 12 films this Christmas weekend should total an anemic $112 million, down 15% from the comparable weekend last year and not even close to the previous three years.  Of course, weekend comparisons are tricky because the calendar is particularly cruel this year, putting Christmas Eve (a relatively soft movie night with many theaters closed early) on Saturday.  Business between December 26-30 (until the next hiccup on New Year’s Eve) can be blistering (when weekdays perform like weekend nights at the box office), but with this crop of movies it is unlikely the year will turn around in the final week or so.

The class of the weekend is Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which is headed for $29 million from Friday-Sunday.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is holding fairly well with a projected $21 million in its second weekend.  But the other openers are grossing in the surprisingly soft $10-15 million range for the weekend.  Again, because of the calendar, a $10 million opening this weekend is not as scary as it would be the rest of the year.  But anyway you slice it, this is still an underwhelming holiday season.
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (the fourth in the M:I series) grossed $9.7 million Friday and is looking like $29.2 million from Friday-Sunday (an above par $8,450 per theater average), compared to a forecast of $31.5 million.  Through Sunday, the film’s domestic total should stand at $62 million, and it should finish with $171 million domestically.  (This would be above the $134 million for M:I 3 but below the $181 million for M:I and $215 million for M:I 2.)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo pulled in a weak $4.6 million Friday and should gross $15.1 million Friday-Sunday, way below the $26.5 million forecast.  Girl should total $24 million through Sunday and it should finish its domestic run with around $95 million.  

The Adventures of Tintin is also under-performing.  With only $3.5 million Friday, Tintin should find $9.7 million Friday-Sunday (versus a modest $13.5 million forecast), bringing its total through Sunday to $18 million.  We expect the film to rack up around $81 million domestically, which will basically be gravy to its far more lucrative overseas total of $240 million.

We Bought a Zoo is performing just a notch below Tintin, with $3.0 million Friday and an expected $8.6 million Friday-Sunday (versus a $13.0 million forecast).  Without a Wednesday and Thursday head start, however, Zoo should finish with a lower domestic total of about $66 million.

In case you missed them, click to see this week’s Weekend Predictions

December 23-25, 2011    Pre-Wknd    Wknd            Showbuzz
(millions)              Showbuzz    Early    FRI    Domestic
                        Forecast    Proj.   Actual   Final
Mission: Impossible 4 Par[$31.5]    $29.2   $ 9.7     $171
Sherlock Holmes 2 (WB)   [$22.5]    $20.9   $ 6.8     $144
Girl Dragon Tattoo (Sony)[$26.5]    $15.1   $ 4.6     $ 95
Alvin & Chipmunks 3 (Fox)[$16.2]    $13.6   $ 5.4     $ 93Adventures Tintin (Par)  [$13.5]    $ 9.7   $ 3.5     $ 81
We Bought a Zoo (Fox)    [$13.0]    $ 8.6   $ 3.0     $ 66
New Year’s Eve (WB)      [$ 4.1]    $ 3.5   $ 1.3     $ 30
Twilight Breaking 1 (Sum)[$ 2.2]    $ 2.0   $ 0.7     $275

Note: The table above summarizes an early look at the weekend.  The first column is a reminder of each film’s ShowBuzzDaily Forecast for the weekend (in brackets).  The second column, on which the films are sorted, displays the new weekend projection for each film, based on the Friday numbers (the third column).  The final     column is a preliminary estimate of the ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Total number for the film’s total run in North America.  A “++” indicates the Domestic number has been upgraded; a “–” indicates a downgrade.  

Total Box Office Volume 

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like a soft $112 million total Friday-Sunday, down 15% from the same calendar weekend last year.          

Top 12 Films: Weekend #51

     Volume    Movies Opening Each Weekend (millions)
2011  $112  M:I 4 $29, Girl Dragon Tattoo $15, Adv Tintin $10 

2010  $132  Little Fockers $31, True Grit $25, Gulliver’s Trav $6
2009  $260  Sherlock Holmes $62, Alvin Chipmunks 2 $49
2008  $180  Marley & Me $36, Benj Button $27, Bedtime Stories $27
2007  $169  Juno $11, Aliens vs Predators $10
Avg   $185 

Next Weekend 

Next weekend, as is traditional, no new films open wide as the Christmas movies play through New Year’s.

Look for studio estimates for the weekend Sunday morning, as well as international results later in the day Sunday.  We will also have preliminary numbers for the Sunday opening of War Horse and The Darkest Hour on Monday.


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.