December 27, 2011

HOLIDAY BOX OFFICE: Daily Moviegoing Patterns

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>After generating only $22 million of box office on Christmas Eve this past Saturday, the top 10 films increased their collective gross to almost $55 million on Sunday and a projected $68 million today, Monday, December 26.  How typical is this pattern?  Basically, the December 25 number is a relatively normal bump from the Christmas Eve low, but the projected December 26 number (if it holds) is extraordinary.   

The table below looks at the daily total box office (of the top 10 films) for late December in recent years when Christmas Eve fell within the weekend.  The most comparable year is 2005, when December 21 also fell on a Wednesday.   The total box office volume for December 21-24 this year was very similar to 2005 and fairly close to the other recent years.  December 25 was much higher than 2005 but only a touch higher than 2006 and 2010.  However, the December 26 number is enormously strong.  Volume will probably fall back to Sunday’s level this Tuesday-Thursday (following the 2005 pattern) — and if it stays around $50-54 million per day this week, the year would actually end relatively decently.  

                DAILY TOTAL GROSS of TOP 10 MOVIES
           2011        2010        2006        2005
Dec 21  $27.5 Wed   $22.0 Tue   $17.8 Thu   $20.5 Wed
Dec 22  $24.8 Thu   $31.1 Wed   $39.6 Fri   $22.8 Thu
Dec 23  $37.1 Fri   $33.5 Thu   $43.3 Sat   $36.4 Fri
Dec 24  $22.1 Sat   $23.6 Fri   $20.1 Sun   $20.2 Sat
Dec 25  $54.6 Sun   $52.5 Sat   $49.4 Mon   $41.4 Sun
Dec 26  $67.8 Mon   $48.8 Sun   $49.5 Tue   $55.2 Mon
Dec 27        Tue   $41.6 Mon   $41.9 Wed   $40.1 Tue
Dec 28        Wed   $41.6 Tue   $39.9 Thu   $37.8 Wed
Dec 29        Thu   $41.7 Wed   $48.5 Fri   $38.1 Thu
Dec 30        Fri   $43.1 Thu   $51.5 Sat   $45.1 Fri
Dec 31        Sat   $41.7 Fri   $34.1 Sun   $35.8 Sat
Jan 01        Sun   $57.1 Sat   $41.0 Mon   $42.6 Sun

NOTE: Top films: 2010 (Little Fockers, True Grit, TRON Legacy), 2006 (Night at the Museum, Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls), 2005 (King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia, Fun with Dick and Jane)

In addition to tracking the fortunes of this year’s holiday movies throughout this important week, we will keep an eye on total box office volume on a daily basis as the year draws to a close.

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."