December 8, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>Two new films open this weekend, a formulaic romantic comedy from director Garry Marshall and an R-rated comedy starring Jonah Hill that looks like it will come and go very quickly.  New Year’s Eve will be #1 this weekend but not at a particularly impressive level.  And none of the Thanksgiving holdovers look to gross over $10 million this weekend.  Overall, the weekend looks like it will be around $84 million for the top 12 movies, identical to the same weekend last year.        

Opening at over 3,300 theaters, New Year’s Eve from Warner Brothers / New Line should average an above average $7,500 per theater (for $25.0 million Friday-Sunday).  [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  With a limited number of reviews at RottenTomatoes, New Year’s Eve is not feeling the critical love, with only 6% positive so far.  The Garry Marshall romantic comedy with a cast of thousands is headed for around $70 million domestically, several notches below the similar Garry Marshall romantic ensemble comedy Valentine’s Day (which opened with $56.3 million and grossed $110.5 million domestically and $106 million overseas). 

With a more limited release pattern (around 2,700 theaters), The Sitter from 20th Century Fox and starring Jonah Hill should average a completely mediocre $5,050 per theater ($13.5 million Friday-Sunday).  The Sitter is looking like $35 million domestically.  No reviews yet at RottenTomatoes since the film was hidden from critics by the studio.

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
December 9-11                    Positive   Weekend   Total*

New Year’s Eve           WB  PG13  06%      $25.0     $ 70
The Sitter              Fox  R     n/a      $13.5     $ 35

Note: Although critic reviews are not related to the size of the opening weekend, they are significantly correlated with the size of the declines in the opening weeks of a movie.
* The Domestic Total is a very early ShowBuzzDaily projection of the total North American gross, based on the Weekend Forecasts.

Smaller than average declines for Hugo and The Descendants as they continue to expand into more theaters.   

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
December 9-11                   vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Twilight Breaking Dawn 1Sum       -51%      $ 8.2     $268
Hugo                    Par       – 9%      $ 7.0     $ 48
The Muppets             Dis       -39%      $ 6.8     $ 85

Arthur Christmas        Sony      -25%      $ 5.6     $ 47 The Descendants         Fox       – 2%      $ 4.7     $ 33
Happy Feet Two          WB        -39%      $ 3.6     $ 67 

Jack and Jill           Sony      -41%      $ 3.2     $ 71
Immortals               Rel       -46%      $ 2.4     $ 82

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $101 million total, ranking 38th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $84 million, and the same weekend in 2009 was $87 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like $84 million, even with this weekend last year and down 17% from the four-year average for this weekend.       

This Weekend Last Two Years

 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader FOX PG Ben Barnes  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $39  Actual: $24
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $72  Actual: $104
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $310
 The Tourist SONY PG13 Johnny Depp Angelina Jolie 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $23  Actual: $16
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $48  Actual: $68
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $211
 Princess and the Frog DIS G   
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $26  Actual: $24
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $77  Actual: $104
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $163
 Invictus WB PG13 Matt Damon Morgan Freeman 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $15  Actual: $9
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $29  Actual: $37
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $85

Come back throughout the weekend to see how the movies actually perform.  Saturday morning we will have an early look at how the weekend is shaping up, on Sunday we will have initial studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday actuals), and Monday we will have the final weekend numbers.

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.