Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Preview: Museum Open For Business Over Crowded Christmas Weekend

by | December 21, 2006 | Comments

Moviegoers will have plenty to choose from over the long Christmas holiday weekend as four new star-driven wide releases hit the marketplace adding to an already crowded marquee.

The Ben Stiller fantasy pic "Night at the Museum" leads the way as the frame’s only new comedy while the Matthew McConaughey football drama "We Are Marshall" offers an inspirational story based on true events. Meanwhile, a pair of Italian Stallions hop into the director’s chair as Sylvester Stallone‘s boxing drama "Rocky Balboa" and Robert De Niro‘s espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" offer even more choices to holiday moviegoers. As is typical of this time of year, Christmas Eve will hurt the box office on Sunday as last-minute shopping and early theater closings will take their toll. But the Monday holiday will see a major recovery since Christmas Day brings forth a surge in traffic to the multiplexes.

Blasting into nearly 3,700 theaters including 72 Imax venues is the comedy "Night at the Museum" which finds Ben Stiller playing the new night watchman at New York’s Museum of Natural History where all the artifacts and statues come to life each night. Director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "The Pink Panther") leaves behind Steve Martin to work with a younger funnyman and more special effects. The PG-rated film is aiming for broad audiences hoping to bring in entire families looking for a fun time this holiday season. "Museum" also plans to score with teens and young adults as the only major comedy option for them. With "The Holiday" being the only other laugher in the top ten to register with that lucrative group, look for a solid response.

Stiller brings considerable starpower to the film but he also gets backup from comedians like Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. Plus with the prestigious ‘and’ credit already claimed by Williams, Owen Wilson takes a sizable supporting role but is so cool that he is nowhere to be found in the credits at all. Audiences want happy and funny films during the Christmas holidays and "Night at the Museum" should post muscular numbers thanks to its starpower, lack of comedy competition, mild rating, and formidable marketing and distribution push. Fox looks to close up the books on 2006 by taking over the number one spot this weekend. Attacking 3,688 locations, "Night at the Museum" could debut to about $34M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday period.

Ben Stiller in "Night at the Museum."

Sylvester Stallone brings the eye of the tiger back to the multiplexes one last time in "Rocky Balboa" which got a jumpstart on the holiday weekend with its Wednesday launch. The MGM release brings the iconic boxer back to the screen in what is supposedly the end of the franchise with Stallone back in the saddle as writer and director. In this tale, Rocky is brought back into the ring when media hype prompts fans to wonder who the best boxer is of all time. The underdog story on screen mirrored the one within industry circles. How could a franchise that died 16 years ago with the poorly-received "Rocky V" find its way back into the hearts of today’s moviegoers. MGM and the "Judge Dredd" star moved forward. Today, they proudly claim one of the best reviewed films of the Christmas season and the Wednesday bow is being counted on to get die-hard fans out early so they can spread positive buzz at work and in school going into the lucrative yet overcrowded weekend period.

With so many other films in the marketplace, and plenty with PG or G ratings aimed at luring in full families, "Rocky Balboa" will have to take its time at the box office as many moviegoers may need some convincing before spending money on the followup to the Tommy Gunn flick. Older adults are the ones who remember the excitement of the franchise, but the studio is hoping they could bring their kids with them for an uplifting tale that makes you feel good inside. "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "We Are Marshall" will be direct competitors in the feel-good genre and the latter will steal away many sports fans too. "Balboa" will have to rely on nostalgia and good word-of-mouth to carry it through round after round. Already playing in 2,752 theaters and adding more locations on Friday, "Rocky Balboa" may gross about $16M over four days and around $21M over six days.

Stallone is back for one more round in "Rocky Balboa."

For football fans this holiday weekend, Warner Bros. trots out another pigskin drama with "We Are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, and David Strathairn. The PG-rated film tells the true story of the football program at Marshall University in West Virginia which had to be rebuilt from scratch after a plane crash killed most of the players and coaches. Hollywood seems to have an endless line-up of sports dramas these days and since most of them become commercial successes, it’s no wonder that they keep getting churned out. Just a few months ago, moviegoers powered the football flicks "Invincible" and "Gridiron Gang" to the number one spot with bows of $17M and $14.4M, respectively. "Marshall" should play to much of the same audience and with its underdog feel-good story, the time of year will help since people are in the mood for that type of emotion.

Reviews have not been too good, but that should not matter much. "We Are Marshall" is meant for sports fans and those who love stories about overcoming adversity, regardless of how predictable they may be. Sales from the heartland should be solid and with the tame rating, entire families can come out together. Plus McConaughey is a reliable draw at the box office and is believable as a quirky football coach. Still, competition will be strong and coming from all directions so a blowout will not be possible. Opening in 2,606 theaters, "We Are Marshall" could score about $14M over the Friday-to-Monday frame.

They are Marshall.

Countering the parade of PG flicks is the R-rated CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" directed by Robert De Niro. The Universal release stars Matt Damon as Edward Wilson, a loyal government agent who helped to create the agency during the Cold War. Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, John Turturro, and De Niro also star. "Shepherd" boasts solid starpower which could help the film have broad appeal. The subject matter appeals to the 30+ crowd, but Damon and Jolie should help to pull in twentysomethings. Teens and ethnic audiences will have minimal interest. Critics have been mixed on the film which could impact the overall turnout.

The last few months have not been kind to star-driven period dramas aimed at adult audiences. Pictures like "Hollywoodland," "All the King’s Men," and "Bobby" have all struggled to find paying audiences with none reaching the $15M mark in total sales. "Shepherd’s" cast is what will allow it to rise above those failures. But the fight for the attention and time of mature adults will be fierce and a running time of nearly three hours will allow for one less showtime per day on every screen further cutting into its commercial potential. Infiltrating 2,217 locations, "The Good Shepherd" might capture around $13M over four days.

Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin in "The Good Shepherd."

With the calendar year coming to a close, things continue to get crowded in the specialty arena this weekend. Clint Eastwood‘s award-winning war drama "Letters From Iwo Jima" debuted on Wednesday in limited release ahead of a January expansion similar to what Warner Bros. did two years ago with the director’s "Million Dollar Baby" which went on to reign at the Oscars. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts star in the period romance "The Painted Veil" from Warner Independent which also platformed on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. Thursday brings the limited launches of Miramax’s "Venus" starring Golden Globe nominee Peter O’Toole and the Chinese period drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" from Sony Classics which stars Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat.

Zhang Yimou’s "Curse of the Golden Flower."

Last weekend, Will Smith scored a number one hit with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which continues to please audiences. Overall moviegoing should increase over the holiday weekend, but more choices for adult audiences will give Sony some competition. "Pursuit’s" four-day take could drop 25% from its three-day debut gross giving the film about $20M and a cume of $58M after 11 days.

As a sci-fi actioner, Fox’s "Eragon" is likely to see one of the largest drops in the top ten. The dragon adventure might fall by 35% to around $15M over the four-day session leaving the studio with $46M.

Kidpics score big points over Christmas so "Charlotte’s Web" might see many of those fans who skipped out last weekend actually show up this time. The Paramount release’s four-day tally may slip 10% from its three-day bow and bring in roughly $10M. That would give the family film a total of $27M after 11 days.

LAST YEAR: With Christmas falling on a Sunday, the observed holiday on Monday gave the box office an expanded four-day holiday frame allowing the mega holdovers to repeat atop the charts. "King Kong" spent its second weekend at number one and grossed $33.3M over four days and was closely followed by "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $31.7M in its third adventure. The combined haul for the pair soared to $285M with much more still to come. Newcomers rounded out the top five with Jim Carrey defeating Steve Martin in the battle of the comedies. Sony’s "Fun With Dick and Jane" opened in third with $21.5M over four days while Fox’s sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" settled for fourth with $15.3M. Final tallies reached $110.3M and $82.6M, respectively. Sony also claimed fifth with "Memoirs of a Geisha" which expanded nationally and took in $10.2M over the long weekend. Also opening were Fox Searchlight’s Johnny Knoxville comedy "The Ringer" with $7.7M over four days, the Jennifer Aniston pic "Rumor Has It" with $7.5M in two days for Warner Bros., and Universal’s "Munich" with $6M in four days. The films went on to reach $35.4M, $43M, and $47.4M respectively. The debuting horror pic "Wolf Creek" opened outside the top ten with $4.9M in two days on its way to $16.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tag Cloud

Comics on TV hist Action Tokyo Olympics Broadway Podcast Pop TV lord of the rings sopranos Acorn TV razzies Spike MTV Academy Awards 90s Animation Film TV movies dramedy Fall TV award winner Disney+ Disney Plus 72 Emmy Awards godzilla japan Rocky singing competition toy story miniseries Family child's play Awards doctor who comics FX on Hulu Character Guide tv talk Winners IMDb TV news Paramount Plus Teen screen actors guild Discovery Channel Superheroe Marvel HBO Max Turner The Walking Dead RT History TCA Winter 2020 FOX asian-american Freeform king arthur Musicals hispanic space TCM anthology summer TV preview NYCC Starz 2020 kids TBS Stephen King SXSW 2022 cooking Avengers Best Actress jamie lee curtis Calendar high school blaxploitation Funimation free movies joker WGN critic resources halloween LGBTQ 4/20 superman 2016 golden globe awards new star wars movies mob art house dark Country disaster movies ABC Family game of thrones Hallmark NBA universal monsters marvel comics obituary scorecard know your critic canceled LGBT Mary Poppins Returns Kids & Family Warner Bros. superhero scary Marvel Television golden globes facebook HFPA Set visit 45 Cannes all-time satire TV One worst Cosplay Pacific Islander OWN Pop Lifetime Red Carpet a nightmare on elm street Comic Book talk show Neflix Bravo slasher documentaries Fantasy adventure BBC America Best and Worst PlayStation social media dceu spanish die hard Emmy Nominations BET Year in Review BBC FX YA TruTV Martial Arts CW Seed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt E3 leaderboard fast and furious foreign Walt Disney Pictures streamig Instagram Live cats strong female leads VH1 Wes Anderson Classic Film royal family black Focus Features TLC Endgame vampires Writers Guild of America parents Cartoon Network YouTube war 93rd Oscars Ellie Kemper indiana jones dreamworks IFC cults DirecTV classics A24 Crackle TV Land revenge remakes Oscar mutant VICE Alien cars American Society of Cinematographers nature Schedule video harry potter The Witch romantic comedy game show anime History San Diego Comic-Con saw GIFs halloween tv Toys Super Bowl Video Games trailers SDCC ABC suspense king kong HBO Go hollywood based on movie Paramount Pictures Universal Pictures APB Netflix sitcom science fiction nfl supernatural 73rd Emmy Awards The Purge TCA FXX cancelled television Awards Tour blockbusters werewolf Syfy Pirates fresh A&E Elton John Box Office Adult Swim Black History Month The Academy Netflix Christmas movies richard e. Grant young adult aliens genre National Geographic debate laika movie sag awards Thanksgiving Biopics Grammys Rom-Com Women's History Month summer preview 2017 psychological thriller Amazon Prime The Arrangement 20th Century Fox ViacomCBS Musical GoT TCA 2017 IFC Films aapi Valentine's Day vs. PaleyFest Film Festival dogs james bond technology Tags: Comedy Chernobyl basketball Rocketman crime scene in color cancelled TV series The Walt Disney Company boxoffice Comic-Con@Home 2021 dexter 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards deadpool Epix best critics X-Men stand-up comedy twilight spider-man historical drama Apple Drama justice league USA Network renewed TV shows Food Network comic CNN adenture spinoff docuseries marvel cinematic universe thriller Pet Sematary YouTube Premium Extras south america mockumentary Western Christmas MSNBC reviews australia Pride Month CBS Pixar festivals Mary Tyler Moore dc Sundance Marvel Studios comiccon serial killer medical drama Best Director 21st Century Fox Prime Video animated TIFF book obi wan worst movies book adaptation NBC heist movie Certified Fresh screenings crime thriller teaser OneApp Best Picture Binge Guide President USA First Look spain WarnerMedia Emmys target adaptation Amazon Exclusive Video elevated horror Sundance TV mcc ESPN finale Hulu crossover Holidays political drama PBS Trivia Lucasfilm CMT rotten 2015 El Rey Fox News Photos Television Critics Association live action DGA Creative Arts Emmys Mindy Kaling ABC Signature series BAFTA comic books Superheroes italian Disney streaming service sports popular ITV Star Trek cancelled romance international television Black Mirror Election BBC One Reality Travel Channel archives ghosts See It Skip It streaming movies Baby Yoda Anna Paquin independent 2021 composers Song of Ice and Fire Image Comics Comedy Central cancelled TV shows women New York Comic Con black comedy Shudder broadcast Winter TV versus Showtime dragons Hear Us Out comedies zero dark thirty Tumblr Interview Hallmark Christmas movies natural history Marathons biopic YouTube Red Britbox Captain marvel spy thriller Watching Series SundanceTV true crime theme song Polls and Games batman psycho rt archives Sundance Now Tubi binge Apple TV+ Oscars First Reviews Mudbound zombie Ovation Ghostbusters rt labs critics edition streaming The CW BET Awards Hollywood Foreign Press Association sequel indie travel monster movies Disney Plus sequels rom-coms DC streaming service diversity period drama nbcuniversal TCA Awards AMC posters Chilling Adventures of Sabrina SXSW zombies rt labs CBS All Access 2019 discovery Nominations Disney Channel olympics films TV renewals mission: impossible what to watch TNT latino cinemax witnail 24 frames Lifetime Christmas movies festival Nickelodeon football boxing green book chucky Brie Larson Esquire Spectrum Originals Dark Horse Comics MGM Logo action-comedy christmas movies Arrowverse cartoon South by Southwest Film Festival Countdown video on demand Vudu stoner ratings Trophy Talk Sony Pictures Mary poppins spanish language japanese feel good Fargo Opinion comic book movie Peacock AMC Plus robots hispanic heritage month blockbuster stop motion Masterpiece Tarantino breaking bad TV docudrama concert new york jurassic park Spring TV hidden camera legend Apple TV Plus slashers emmy awards scary movies Star Wars directors kaiju rotten movies we love ID 94th Oscars toronto MCU Columbia Pictures Amazon Studios RT21 biography cops canceled TV shows DC Comics pirates of the caribbean children's TV summer TV Television Academy Best Actor Nat Geo franchise Crunchyroll Legendary gangster 99% Summer french Comedy Mystery Amazon Prime Video new zealand GLAAD 79th Golden Globes Awards Tomatazos Quiz live event trophy HBO comic book movies Turner Classic Movies 007 unscripted politics 71st Emmy Awards Disney Sci-Fi VOD spider-verse Fox Searchlight Universal Shondaland 1990s Lionsgate telelvision police drama Infographic Premiere Dates prank venice transformers Heroines 2018 crime drama casting E! Holiday quibi reboot wonder woman kong Paramount criterion documentary Horror Paramount Network DC Universe Sneak Peek Trailer name the review Music Reality Competition Rock