December 24, 2011

HOLIDAY BOXOFFICE: Friday Studio Scorecard – 12/23/11


Anyone who thinks the boxoffice isn’t in a slump needs a new prescription for bifocals.
Note:  since December 24 is a traditionally deadly day at the boxoffice (closed theatres, family plans)  that would make 3-day weekend estimates look even worse than they are, we’ll use 4 day Friday-Monday weekend estimates below.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO (20th):  Its 6th place start with $3M in 3100 theatres (a lousy $952 average for the day) is terribly disappointing, and the picture is unlikely to have any impact at all on the holiday boxoffice.
THE ARTIST (Weinstein):  A crucially important first expansion for a movie that hopes to take the Best Picture Oscar, and it went horribly.  Moving from 17 theatres to 167, the film could only manage a $1400 average on Friday that will probably be around $7500 over all 4 days of the long weekend.  Will it ultimately matter to the Oscar race?  We’ll see.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (Weinstein):  Another disastrous expansion for an Oscar hopeful, this time from 358 to 602 moviehouses.  The Friday average was a pathetic $280, and it probably won’t get to $1500 over the 4-day weekend.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (Focus):  Finally a glimmer of good news, as the expansion from 16 to 53 theatres went well:  Friday’s average of $3900 should translate into close to $30K over 4 days.
ALBERT NOBBS (Roadside):  An awards hopeful for Glenn Close and Janet McTeer, this is playing a 1-week Oscar qualifying run in just 2 theatres, and its mediocre $3500 average start probably means less than $25K in each theatre over the long weekend.
IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY (FilmDistrict):  Another Oscar hopeful (this one Angelina Jolie’s parade of Bosnian wartime atrocities, already nominated for a Foreign-Language Golden Globe), another weak opening:  in 3 theatres, its $2200 average on Friday probably means $15K over the holiday weekend.
Back to the world of wide releases:
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (Paramount):  The one and only success story for Hollywood this season (Paramount gets credit for the 2 smartest distribution decisions of the year:  the IMAX “previews” of MI4, and pushing back the opening of Puss In Boots), and yet even this one carries some disappointment:  the picture is unlikely to make as much as MI2‘s $215M, and may end up only outgrossing the third chapter of the series.
SHERLOCK HOLMES:  A GAME OF SHADOWS (Warners);  Headed for a US gross 20-30% lower than the first in the series.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Sony):  Although with its hard-R rating and “The Feel-Bad Movie of the Holidays” spirit, this picture has excuses the other disappointments lack, the fact it it’s just not doing the business that its pedigree (and $90-100M production budget) promised.  It may not even reach $100M total gross in the US.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (Paramount):  It’s very nice that the film did well overseas, but it was wildly expensive, and its likely $80M US gross won’t even pay for its domestic marketing campaign, let alone any of the production cost.  With a global outlook little better than break-even, Spielberg and Jackson certainly have to do some thinking before launching the projected Jackson-directed 2d chapter in the planned franchise.
ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS:  CHIPWRECKED (20th):  Another damaged franchise, with a total that could end up at half or even less of its predecessors.
OTHER HOLDOVERS:  Even with an extra holiday in the weekend, most will be lucky to break even from last weekend, and some (NEW YEAR’S EVE, HUGO) are falling considerably more.  YOUNG ADULT (Paramount) is in particularly dire straits, finding no audience at all with what may be a 40% slide despite the long weekend.  
And then there were 2, or really 1 1/2:  on Christmas Day, Steven Spielberg’s WAR HORSE (DreamWorks/Disney) will attempt to ride in and save the holidays, while Summit’s THE DEADLIEST HOUR gathers up what small change remains in the sofa cushions.  Also opening is the bizarrely controversial EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Warners), in an exclusive 6-theatre run.

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."