From painful family reunions to sequels no child asked for to multiple Vince Vaughn and Tim Allen vehicles, these are all the Christmas films that scored less than 30% on the Tomatometer. And to make sure these movies landed on enough critics’ naughty lists to be deemed truly universally loathed, every entry had to have at least 20 reviews for inclusion. This leaves the likes of Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?! out in the cold, but makes plenty of space for Home Alone 3, Christmas With the Kranks, and Deck the Halls. It’s more cinematic coal than you can handle in our guide to the worst Christmas movies ever!
Christmas is just around the corner and you know what that means: holiday mirth, exchanging gifts, eating foods you wouldn’t touch at any other time in the year, and, yes, ugly sweaters! The holiday tradition inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, which looks at some of the most compelling knitted monstrosities from film and TV history.
Attention, filmgoers who have seen and enjoyed The Golden Compass: According to The Vatican, you’re either “dishonest” or you haven’t been “gifted with a critical spirit.”
Such is the underlying message to be taken from a long (and rather smug) editorial in Wednesday’s edition of l’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican daily. Calling Compass‘ underwhelming box-office performance “consoling,” the paper dismisses Chris Weitz‘s adaptation of Philip Pullman‘s book as the “most anti-Christmas film possible” before speculating that the movie’s $26 million domestic opening might spell doom for the remainder of the planned trilogy. “If that should happen,” says the editorial, “it wouldn’t be a big loss.”
And if you actually enjoyed the movie, what’s wrong with you? That’s what the paper wants to know. You should have found it “devoid of any particular emotion apart from a great chill,” because “in Pullman’s world, hope simply does not exist, because there is no salvation but only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events.”
So there, New Line, Philip Pullman, and Chris Weitz. The Catholic Church showed you. And just wait until you read what they have to say about Angels & Demons! (We have to ask, though — where was the Vatican’s film critic when we were having our holiday spirits crushed by Deck the Halls and/or Christmas with the Kranks? Talk about your most anti-Christmas films possible…)
Only one new film ventures into wide release. Studios typically avoid opening worthwhile pics during the weekend after the Thanksgiving frame since moviegoing subsides and holiday shopping becomes a bigger national priority. Overall ticket sales tumble by 40-50% from the previous frame and holdovers usually lead the way. That means Disney’s princess tale Enchanted should continue to reign supreme at the North American box office, but those looking for a scare will have the new thriller Awake to see. After a robust turkey frame, look for the marketplace to settle down as movie fans nibble on leftovers.
What happens when Darth Vader marries the Invisible Woman? You get a horror film set in a hospital, of course. Awake stars Hayden Christensen as a man who undergoes surgery while remaining conscious and Jessica Alba plays the troubled wife. The R-rated psychological thriller from MGM and The Weinstein Co. will target young adults with a semi-intriguing premise and a dash of starpower.
Outside of the Star Wars prequels, young Anakin has no pull with ticket buyers but Alba has shown box office strength over the years and can often be a draw even when not suited up in Fantastic Four gear. As with so many of her previous films, trailers feature quick shots of her semi-nude body which should titillate male moviegoers. But overall excitement is not too high and the audience could be limited here with the eventual DVD release reaching the bulk of the film’s fans. Opening in about 2,000 theaters, Awake may gross around $6M this weekend.
Following its surprisingly strong premiere, the family reunion film This Christmas should fall sharply on the sophomore session. A 55% decline would leave Sony with $8M and an impressive total of $36M after a dozen days.
Young males targeted by Beowulf and Hitman will be distracted somewhat by another one-word-titled film making its debut. With Alba in that cast, it could lead to steep drops of 55% each. That would put Paramount’s 3D adventure toon at around $7.5M for the weekend for a sum of $68M. Hitman would slide down to $6M for Fox and a total of $30M.
LAST YEAR: For the third straight weekend, the penguin-Bond connection ruled the box office with ease. The animated blockbuster Happy Feet remained the number one film once again with $17.5M for Warner Bros. while Sony’s 007 pic Casino Royale took the silver with $15.1M. In the first 17 days of play, moviegoers spent an astounding $237M on the dynamic duo. Denzel Washington‘s action thriller Deja Vu stayed put in third place with $10.9M in its sophomore frame. Debuting in fourth was the religious drama The Nativity Story with $7.8M on its way to a $37.6M final for New Line. Rounding out the top five was Fox’s Christmas comedy Deck the Halls with $6.7M. Also debuting but to modest numbers were Fox’s horror pic Turistas with $3.6M and MGM’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj with $2.3M. Final grosses reached $7M and $4.3M, respectively.
This weekend For the first time this decade, a new release seems set to take over the number one spot during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the North American box office. Studios are cramming a six-pack of new titles into multiplexes nationwide hoping the recent famine in the marketplace will be replaced by a feast. The films lack major stars, but they do however have clearly-defined audiences which will hopefully allow them to survive and expand the overall pie.
Disney leads the way with the fantasy extravaganza Enchanted for young girls while Fox counters with the much more violent action offering Hitman aimed at young men. MGM goes for a scare with the horror film The Mist, Sony targets African American moviegoers with This Christmas, and August Rush from Warner Bros. will try to tap into family audiences. Meanwhile, Miramax goes after older adults and upscale crowds with its acclaimed thriller No Country For Old Men which widens into national release after two weeks of sold out shows in limited play.
Once upon a time, Disney regularly opened a new family film at number one over Thanksgiving weekend. After a long absence, the Mouse House is now poised to take its rightful place on the turkey throne with its fairy tale adventure pic Enchanted which finds an animated princess thrust upon the real world where people do not live happily ever after. The PG-rated film will appeal to the millions of young girls and mothers who have become devotees of Disney’s lucrative army of princesses. Getting in boys may be a bit tough, but the female following should be more than enough to propel this massive release into the top spot at the holiday box office.
Not since 1999’s Toy Story 2 has Disney, or any other studio for that matter, opened a new film at number one over this holiday frame. Holdovers have consistently ruled since 2000, mostly big guns that debuted on the weekend before the holiday to get an early jump on the cash. But from 1994 through 1999, Disney enjoyed an unprecedented streak ruling the Thanksgiving box office every year with an iron fist. Now that magic is back, thanks in part to a surprisingly weak line-up of November titles coming from Hollywood’s magic factories. With the widest release by far of any new film, no holdovers to stand in its way, and a holiday frame that welcomes family entertainment, Enchanted looks to become the queen bee. Opening in an ultrawide 3,632 theaters, the fantasy film may charm its way to about $30M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $43M during the extended Wednesday-to-Sunday span.
A 25% drop might be in the works for American Gangster which may tap into patient adults that have heard the buzz, but just haven’t made a trip to the theaters yet. Universal could take in about $9.5M over three days and raise its sum to $116M. Christmas films routinely see their three-day grosses climb over the turkey frame when compared to the previous weekend thanks to the cheery holiday mood of ticket buyers. That could come as good news to Warner Bros. which might see its Vince Vaughn offering Fred Claus edge up by 10% to around $13M. Cume would hit $54M.
LAST YEAR Despite five new films opening in wide release over the turkey frame, moviegoers continued to spend their money on the same films as the top two spots remained unchanged. Sophomores Happy Feet and Casino Royale led the session with $37M and $30.8M, respectively, over three days. The penguin toon dipped only 11% while the rejuvenated Bond flick dropped by just 25% giving the pair a towering combined gross of $193M after ten days. Denzel Washington won the bronze with his new sci-fi actioner Deja Vu which bowed to $20.6M while the Christmas comedy Deck the Halls followed in fourth with a debut of $12M. Final grosses reached $64M and $35.1M. Borat rounded out the top five with $10.3M in its fourth weekend. Other new releases stumbled. MGM’s political drama Bobby expanded nationally and took in only $4.9M on its way to a weak $11.2M. Warner Bros. debuted its sci-fi drama The Fountain to the tune of $3.8M and New Line saw just $3.2M for its Jack Black pet project Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The pics ended their runs quickly with a measly $10.1M and $8.3M, respectively.
author: Gitesh Pandya www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
A wave of new releases hits the multilplexes on Friday as the North American box office looks to bounce back after a slugglish weekend and get the final month of the year started with a bang.
Mel Gibson‘s ultraviolent historical epic "Apocalypto" hits theaters nationwide while his "What Women Want" director Nancy Meyers counters with the feel-good romantic comedy "The Holiday" starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. The latter’s iceberg lover Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the new political thriller "Blood Diamond" and kids too young for all those flicks will be offered the family comedy "Unaccompanied Minors."
Mel Gibson once again plays tricks on the box office bringing forth one of the most unpredictable grossers of the year in "Apocalypto." The R-rated film examines the end of the once-great Mayan civilization from five centuries ago with the story of one brave man, captured by warriors and set to be sacrificed, who must break free and rescue his pregnant wife and young son. As one of the bloodiest and most violent films of 2006, the Buena Vista release is also one of the most challenging to market. Like the director’s last effort, 2004’s smash hit "The Passion of the Christ," "Apocalypto" is made in a language now dead and is subtitled all the way through. But whereas "Passion" had some small level of starpower, Gibson’s new offering boasts a cast of unknowns including many non-actors.
Selling a subtitled film with no stars about a part of history that few today are talking about is risky enough. But Gibson’s arrest over the summer for drunk driving and his anti-Jewish remarks led to horrible PR for "Apocalypto’s" only marketable asset. A few weeks ago, this film looked like it would have a tough road to travel in order to succeed. But like with "Passion," targeted marketing at those audience segments most likely to embrace the pic has helped fuel positive buzz and even good reviews have sparked more interest, not only with moviegoers, but also with exhibitors. Disney upped its opening weekend run from 2,000 to 2,500 theaters as the exhibition community is showing more confidence in the box office potential of the film. "Passion" also saw its theater bookings jump in the final weeks before launching.
Because of Gibson’s summer escapade, there are some who cannot be convinced to spend money and time on a Mel movie. However, the controversy has given "Apocalypto" a ton of free media exposure over the last couple of months and curiosity has grown. Plus the studio has wisely targeted the large Latino audience which never gets to see a big Hollywood epic made about its ancient history. They came out in big numbers for "Passion" and are expected to show up again this weekend. Also there are moviegoers sick of wasting time and money on sequels and remakes who want something fresh and unique that are looking at the Mayan adventure as an experience they can’t get anywhere else. It will be a closely-watched opening for "Apocalypto," but a weekend tally of about $15M could result giving Gibson a reasonable shot at scoring back-to-back number one hits with foreign language movies.
Moviegoers in search of less bloodshed and a lower body count this weekend will be checking out the new romantic comedy "The Holiday" which stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two frustrated professionals who decide to swap homes in order to get away from their woes. The PG-13 film finds Diaz going to snowy England while Winslet’s character heads to sunny Los Angeles. Jude Law and Jack Black play the love interests in the Nancy Meyers film. "Holiday" boasts plenty of starpower even though the casting of Nacho Libre in a date movie will have many scratching their heads. Teenage girls and adult women will make up the primary audience, but male interest will be there too thanks to the sassy Diaz who remains a big box office pull with both genders.
Female audiences have been neglected in recent weeks with most major grossers tapping into male or family audiences. The December marketplace will welcome a multi-star romantic comedy set during the Christmas season, however the whites-only casting policy may prevent a more diverse turnout. Sony offered sneak previews last Saturday to boost awareness and word-of-mouth. "Holiday" looks to reach the same crowds that came out for previous mid-December romantic comedies like last year’s "The Family Stone" ($12.5M opening), Meyers’ 2003 hit "Something’s Gotta Give" ($16.1M), and 2002’s Yankee-Brit combo "Two Weeks Notice" ($14.3M). "The Holiday" should receive good cheer from ticket buyers and take in roughly $15M this weekend.
Like this weekend’s Mel Gibson epic, Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film "Blood Diamond" is also a violent tale of a man whose village is ransacked by warlords and who must fight to retrieve his wife and family. This time, the action takes place only seven years ago in the African nation of Sierra Leone where rebels fight to protect their illegal diamond trade. Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly co-star in the R-rated film directed by Ed Zwick ("The Last Samurai," "Glory"). Warner Bros. has poured some major marketing dollars into hyping up its new political thriller and like most major releases these days, "Blood Diamond" has some controversy of its own which the studio hopes will help generate more interest. Many stories have been written about how the film might impact the global diamond industry as more Americans (by far the world’s largest consumers of the gem) learn about how conflict diamonds make their way into the market.
Story and starpower should be the main factors at the box office, however. DiCaprio has pull and Hounsou has been getting lots of notice for this role including winning the Best Supporting Actor award from the National Board of Review this week. A year ago this weekend, DiCaprio’s "Departed" foe Matt Damon teamed up with George Clooney for the international political saga "Syriana" which went nationwide with a $11.7M opening from 1,752 theaters for a $6,699 average. With mixed reviews and only 158 more theaters, "Blood Diamond" could find itself in the same neighborhood as it will appeal to much the same audience. Young women who dig the "Titanic" boy and want more upbeat entertainment may get steered over to "The Holiday" and young men who seek screen violence will find much more of it in "Apocalypto" so competition will be fierce this weekend. Opening in 1,910 theaters, "Blood Diamond" might shine with around $12M this weekend.
Kids have just one new movie aimed at them this weekend. Warner Bros. offers up its second wide release of the frame with "Unaccompanied Minors," a story about a group of children causing chaos when left behind at an airport. The PG-rated film will play exclusively to the family crowd and with "Happy Feet," "Deck the Halls," and even "The Santa Clause 3" still lingering in the marketplace, competition will be tight. Lewis Black and Wilmer Valderrama are the only major names here so starpower will not be much of a factor in drawing in paying customers. "Minors" just does not have enough bells and whistles to rise above the crowded arena. Although the film opens with the most number of theaters, it may end up with the worst gross among the newbies. "Unaccompanied Minors" sneaks into 2,775 sites and could take in about $9M.
After a three-week party atop the box office charts, "Happy Feet" will dance its way down a couple of notches thanks to the wave of new product. "Unaccompanied Minors" will be the only true competitor so the drop should not be too hard. A 35% fall to about $11M could result giving Warner Bros. $136M overall.
James Bond has also been celebrating a solid box office run with its three straight silver medals and is hoping to surpass "The Devil Wears Prada" ($124.7M) and "Over the Hedge" ($155M) to eventually become the top-grossing film of 2006 to not reach the number one spot. This weekend, a 40% decline could be in order giving Agent 007 around $9M for the session pushing the cume for Sony to $129M.
LAST YEAR: Making a big splash at the box office was "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" which bowed to a ferocious $65.6M for the second largest December opening in history. Disney’s effects-filled adventure went on to capture $291.7M domestically and a stunning $750M worldwide. Opening far back in the runnerup spot, but still posting solid numbers, was the oil industry drama "Syriana" with $11.7M and a $6,699 average. The Warner Bros. release went on to gross $50.8M domestically and $93M globally. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" dropped to third after three weeks at number one and grossed $10.3M. The Johnny Cash flick "Walk the Line" followed with $5.7M and the family comedy "Yours, Mine & Ours" rounded out the top five with $5.1M. Debuting in limited release with explosive averages were "Memoirs of a Geisha" with a $85,313 average from eight locations and "Brokeback Mountain" with a $109,485 average from only five theaters. Final domestic grosses reached $57M and $83M and each won three Oscars.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Movie fans feasted on tasty leftovers over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend as the top two films atop the charts remained unchanged from last week. The penguin toon Happy Feet held onto the number one spot while the James Bond actioner Casino Royale followed in second place once again.
Both films enjoyed solid sophomore frames and grossed nearly $100M in combined ticket sales over the Wednesday-to-Sunday period. Several new films that opened were treated like side dishes with audiences finding some of them to be unappetizing. Among the better performers were the action thriller Deja Vu and the family comedy Deck the Halls which finished the weekend in third and fourth places, respectively. Overall, the multiplexes were bustling as the top ten matched last year’s holiday performance which was impressive given the lack of a Harry Potter-type juggernaut on this year’s movie menu.
Sitting on top of the North American box office for a second straight weekend was Happy Feet which danced up an estimated $37.9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and an impressive $51.5M over the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday holiday span. That propelled the cume for the Warner Bros. blockbuster to $100.1M after only ten days giving the studio a great start for its pricey $100M kidpic. In a year overstuffed with animated films, the penguin film joins Ice Age: The Meltdown and Cars as the only toons to spend back-to-back weeks at number one in 2006. The three-day gross slipped a scant 9% from its opening weekend indicating solid word-of-mouth and possibly good legs ahead.
The slender decline was similar to the turkey weekend drops of 2004’s National Treasure and 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas which slipped only 9% and 5%, respectively, when Thanksgiving fell on their second weekends. All three films carried PG ratings, played to broad audiences, opened at number one, and retained their box office crown over the turkey holiday. Treasure captured half of its eventual $173M domestic total in the first ten days while Grinch’s share was a similar 53%. If Happy Feet can stay strong throughout the holiday season, it could find its way to $175-190M.
Holding steady in the number two spot was Agent 007 in Casino Royale which collected an estimated $31M over three days and $45.1M over five days. Off only 24%, that pushed the ten-day domestic haul for the Sony release to a stellar $94.2M. Although Casino opened softer than the last film in the series — 2002’s Die Another Day starring Pierce Brosnan — it enjoyed a better sophomore hold. Die dropped 34% in its second weekend to a matching $31M over the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving holiday banking $101.4M in ten days.
Casino is also benefiting from encouraging buzz and could be on its way to grossing $150-160M from North America coming close to the $160.9M of Die which holds the franchise record. Even if the new Daniel Craig film does not set a new franchise benchmark for domestic sales, it still means that the risky casting change has paid off with today’s audiences still finding Bond to be a relevant film series. Overseas, Casino Royale continued to open at number one in every market it invaded this weekend and watched its international cume soar to $128.2M as its worldwide gross zoomed to an eye-popping $222.4M in under two weeks. The studio expects Casino Royale to outperform the $432M global gross of Die Another Day to become the biggest Bond ever.
Holiday moviegoers looking for something new to see powered the Denzel Washington crime thriller Deja Vu into third place with an opening weekend of $20.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Directed by Tony Scott (Crimson Tide, Top Gun), the PG-13 film averaged a sturdy $6,704 from 3,108 sites for Buena Vista. The studio made a bold move when it programmed Deja Vu’s launch to be just five days after the opening of Casino Royale which would also pull in action fans. Since its Wednesday bow, Deja Vu has grossed a strong $29M.
Washington proved once again that he is one of Hollywood’s most reliable and consistent box office draws. Seven of the last eight films he has headlined have opened with $20M or more. Few A-listers can make that claim. In his new film, the Oscar-winning actor plays a ATF agent who uses new government technology to try to alter the past in order to prevent a ferry explosion that kills over 500 innocent people in New Orleans. It was the first Hollywood film shot in the city after Hurricane Katrina. Reviews were generally positive.
Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick battled their way into fourth place with the new holiday comedy Deck the Halls which opened to an estimated $12M. Fox launched the film in 3,205 locations and averaged a decent $3,744 per site. Since its Wednesday launch, the PG-rated family film has taken in $16.9M. That puts Deck below the openings of recent live-action Thanksgiving weekend kidpics like last year’s Yours, Mine, and Ours and 2004’s Christmas with the Kranks. Those comedies debuted to five-day tallies of $24.3M and $30.8M. Competition was tough for Deck which had to deal with Happy Feet, The Santa Clause 3, and Flushed Away stealing away $54M over the three-day span from the same audience.
Dropping 29% to an estimated $10.4M in its fourth trek was Fox’s Borat which joined the century club over the weekend. November’s only non-penguin film to reach number one has now taken in $109.3M. Jumping up 21% from last weekend thanks to the holiday was Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 which followed close behind with an estimated $10M. The Tim Allen pic has collected $67.2M to date and is running 29% behind the pace of its 2002 predecessor.
Sony’s Will Ferrell comedy Stranger Than Fiction ranked seventh with an estimated $6M, down 9%, for a $32.7M total. The animated tale Flushed Away slipped 12% to an estimated $5.8M and has grossed $57.4M thus far.
Two new films rounded out the top ten with less-than-spectacular results. MGM released The Weinstein Co. pic Bobby and grossed an estimated $4.9M from 1,667 theaters for a mild $2,945 average. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, the R-rated film examines the lives of several people on the day that Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. The all-star cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Happy Feet star Elijah Wood. Bobby opened in two theaters a week earlier and expanded nationally on Thanksgiving Thursday. The distributor chose not to open nationwide on the typical Wednesday date since that day marked the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cume to date is $6.2M
Opening poorly in tenth place was the sci-fi romance The Fountain with an estimated $3.7M from 1,472 for a weak $2,531 average. Darren Aronofsky (pi, Requiem for a Dream) directed the PG-13 film which stars Hugh Jackman (another voice from the chart-topping penguin pic) and Aronofsky’s real-life girlfriend Rachel Weisz in a tale of a man’s search to cure his wife’s illness. Over five days, Fountain collected only $5.4M.
Another Thanksgiving turkey came in the form of the comedy Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny which failed to find paying customers and finished outside of the top ten. The Jack Black comedy took in an estimated $3.1M from 1,919 theaters for a wimpy $1,621 average. The R-rated pic was targeted at young men and saw a soft $5.2M bow over the Wednesday-to-Sunday holiday span.
The film industry satire For Your Consideration expanded from 23 to 623 theaters this weekend and grossed an estimated $2M. With a mediocre $3,186 average, the Warner Independent release upped its cume to $3.1M.
Fox Searchlight debuted its comedy The History Boys and grossed an estimated $101,000 from seven theaters for a solid $14,389 average. Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play, the R-rated film bowed in six U.S. theaters on Tuesday and added one Canadian location on Friday. Cume to date stands at $142,000 and the distributor will expand to four additional markets on December 8.
Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Paramount Vantage’s Babel fell 33% to an estimated $1.9M pushing the cume up to a decent $15.2M. The Brad Pitt pic may finish in the $17-19M range although it could go further if it secures major award nominations. Another film generating Oscar buzz followed as Martin Scorsese’s The Departed shot up an estimated $1.8M in its eighth weekend, down 30%, boosting the cume to $116.8M. With a production cost of $90M, the acclaimed director’s top-grossing film should reach the $120M mark domestically.
The horror sequel Saw III scared up an estimated $1.5M, down 48%, for a strong $78M to date. The $12M Lionsgate hit looks to end with about $80M or a bit less than Saw II’s $87M from last year. After Dark’s Horror Fest concluded its limited five-day theatrical run with $2.6M from 488 theaters last week for a solid $5,328 average.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $142.7M over three days which was dead even with last year when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire remained at number one with $54.7M; and down 2% from 2004 when National Treasure stayed in the top spot with $32.2M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Happy Turkey Day! A crowded marketplace gets even more packed as six new films open or expand nationally over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Expanding nationwide are the political drama Bobby and the ensemble comedy For Your Consideration. Despite all the new releases, last weekend’s two big openers – the animated penguin flick Happy Feet and the James Bond adventure Casino Royale – will try to hold onto their positions atop the charts. With something for everyone, the overall holiday box office should be robust.
Nearly a dozen years after teaming up for the hit submarine thriller Crimson Tide, Denzel Washington, director Tony Scott, and superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer join forces once again for Deja Vu. The PG-13 pic finds the Oscar-winning actor playing an ATF agent investigating the bombing of a New Orleans ferry which kills over 500 innocent people. To make this stand out from other scripts, a sci-fi element is added that gives investigators the possibility of preventing the tragedy from ever happening in the first place. Bruckheimer and Scott know how to please action-seeking movie fans. From Top Gun, to Tide, to Enemy of the State, the duo has scored many blockbusters over the past two decades.
Denzel is a bankable star, especially in a law enforcement role in an action film. His recent openings for gritty action pics include $29M for this year’s Inside Man, $22.8M for 2004’s Man on Fire, and $22.6M for 2001’s Training Day. Deja Vu should play to most of the same fans, however its biggest challenge will come from competing action film Casino Royale which is still new and getting positive marks. A holiday frame as big as Thanksgiving will usually expand to handle both choices so there may be room to breathe, but there will certainly be some adults interested in both who only get time to see one. Buena Vista’s marketing push has been solid and reviews are even favorable. Debuting in 3,108 theaters, Deja Vu might open to around $23M over three days and about $34M over the long Wednesday-to-Sunday period.
Fox offers up a new Christmas comedy for family audiences with Deck the Halls starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick. The PG-rated pic finds two dads with two different styles of holiday cheer going to battle over Christmas light decorations. The studio is hoping to pick up business from family audiences that are in a holiday mood and have already seen Tim Allen‘s The Santa Clause 3. But Happy Feet, which opened only five days before Deck, will be a major competitor since it is a more high profile kidpic with a louder marketing campaign. Deck looks to play to the same audience as last Thanksgiving’s Yours, Mine and Ours which debuted to $17.5M with $24.3M over five days. Deck has the starpower to grab some attention, but will have more direct competition. Landing in 3,023 sites, Deck the Halls might collect around $14M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and roughly $19M over five days.
Funnyman Jack Black goes into vanity-project mode with the new comedy Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny which teams him with his musical partner Kyle Gass. The New Line release will appeal mostly to young males but with its R rating, many younger fans will have trouble buying a ticket. The rating should serve as a major strike against its commercial potential. Female appeal also does not seem too high so Destiny will play to a very specific audience. Expanding beyond Tenacious D fans will be difficult. Black’s last starring role was in the summer wrestling comedy Nacho Libre which opened to $28.3M thanks in part to its PG rating which let all the 12-year-olds in.
Films like Let’s Go To Prison and Harsh Times learned in recent weeks that R-rated films aimed at young men can struggle at the box office. Both of those bowed to about $2M each. Pick has more starpower which should help its cause plus the busy turkey frame when college guys are all out of class. Those not busy playing their PlayStation 3, might rock out with JB and KG. Opening in 1,919 locations, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny may debut with about $8M and $13M over five days.
The good thing about having an endless line of stars like in the political drama Bobby is that the studio can have a different actor plug the film on every major talk show simultaneously. That’s what MGM is finding out this week with the Emilio Estevez picture which expands nationally on Thursday from two exclusive engagements to 1,667 sites from sea to shining sea. Last weekend, the R-rated story behind the day that Robert Kennedy was assassinated averaged a potent $34,519 per theater from its solo houses in New York and Los Angeles. But how will it play across all 50 states? Certainly Bobby will appeal to an older crowd that remembers the 1960s and to a smart upscale audience not looking for Bond or Denzel to save the day. Reviews have generally been good, but critics have not been overwhelming in their praise. As a national candidate, Bobby could collect about $7M over three days and about $10M over five days.
Movie fans in search of the fountain of youth get to try out The Fountain, a time-travel adventure from writer/director Darren Aronofsky (pi). Hugh Jackman stars as a man determined to save the woman he loves, played by Rachel Weisz, and will cross a thousand years of time in order to do so. If marketing support is any indicator, this PG-13 entry is a low priority for Warner Bros. Awareness is not very high and its target audience of adults has many other options to choose from. Critics have not been too supportive either. Debuting in 1,472 theaters, The Fountain could open with around $4M and a five-day tally of $6M.
Also expanding nationally after a strong start in limited play is the film industry comedy For Your Consideration which widens from 23 to 623 locations on Wednesday. The Warner Independent release enters a very crowded marketplace and will find it tough to bring in ticket buyers outside of the Christopher Guest fan club. Last weekend, the PG-13 film posted a stellar $16,174 average, but even acclaimed films like Babel have found out that gunning for smart adult audiences is one hard task. Look for a weekend gross of about $3M.
Last weekend’s two chart-toppers will try to fend off competition from the new releases to hang on to their gold and silver medals. Warner Bros. may sit at the head of the dinner table once again with its animated penguin hit Happy Feet which narrowly won the weekend race last frame. Kid movies always do well over Thanksgiving and this should be no exception. Holdover films have ruled the holiday all decade long with 1999’s Toy Story 2 being the last new release to open at number one over this particular holiday weekend.
With so many films opening or expanding over the turkey frame, direct competition for Feet will only come from Deck the Halls and The Santa Clause 3 which should see its weekend gross rise as most Christmas-themed films do over Thanksgiving. A 25% drop for Happy Feet would give the toon about $31M over three days and a ten-day cume of $91M.
The James Bond actioner Casino Royale might slip a little more in its sophomore frame. In 2002, Die Another Day dropped 34% against no new competition in its second session which was also the turkey holiday. Casino will face a serious direct threat from Deja Vu, however it seems to be pleasing audiences more than Die did. That could lead to a similar 35% decline to around $26M giving the new Daniel Craig adventure $88M in ten days.
Fox looks to crack the $100M mark with Borat this weekend. The raunchy comedy is phasing out at the box office, but non-frequent moviegoers may take a trip this weekend to catch up on one of the most-talked-about films of the year. A 35% drop to around $9.5M could occur giving Borat a hefty $107M in 24 days.
LAST YEAR: Wizard power ruled the turkey frame as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire remained at number one with $54.7M over three days falling 47% from its debut. That gave Warner Bros. a staggering $201M in only ten days. Fox’s Johnny Cash film Walk the Line held steady in second place with $19.2M but slipped only 14% from its opening. Paramount opened its holiday family comedy Yours, Mine, and Ours in third place with $17.5M in three days and $24.3M over the long five-day holiday period. It reached $53.4M overall. Disney’s Chicken Little placed fourth with $12.6M, down 15% in its fourth frame. Sony’s musical Rent rounded out the top five bowing to $10M and $17.1M over five days. A final gross of $29.1M resulted. Other new releases over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend posted more modest numbers. New Line’s comedy Just Friends opened to $9.2M on its way to $32.6M. Lionsgate launched the drama In The Mix to $4.4M leading to a $10.2M end. And the caper pic The Ice Harvest debuted to $3.7M on its way to only $9M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got holiday mischief ("Deck the Halls," starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito), a phenomenon known as déjà vu ("Déjà Vu," starring Denzel Washington), a spiritual journey through time ("The Fountain," starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz), and a mystical guitar pick ("Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny," starring Jack Black and Kyle Gass). What do the critics have to say?
The holiday season is nearly upon us, which means another poorly-reviewed seasonal comedy is hitting theaters. In "Deck the Halls," Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito star as next-door neighbors competing to hang the shiniest star upon the highest bough — or at least out-decorate each other. Practical jokes and one-upmanship ensue. The critics have made a list of the film’s problems and checked it twice, and they say it’s too juvenile to pull off the combination of slapstick and family togetherness it’s attempting. At 13 percent on the Tomatometer, "Deck the Halls" has coal in its stocking.
Denzel Washington rejoins director Tony Scott in "Déjà Vu" as an ATF agent who goes back in time to stop the murder of a woman he subsequently falls in love with. And while the movie’s high-concept angle is riling some critics, others are falling in love with Tony Scott’s unique visual twist on time travel. So either it’s an original take on a familiar concept or it’s about as believable as Keira Knightley the bounty hunter… At 59 percent, the pundits seem to favor the latter.
Beautiful and transcendent or muddled and pretentious? Darren Aronofsky‘s "The Fountain" is dividing the critics right down the middle. This philosophical, time-jumping sci-fi tale stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as a couple in Conquistador-era Spain, the present, and in a space-age future who are obsessed with death and rebirth. "The Fountain" overflows with ideas and images, and while some critics praise the film’s striking visual flair and Aronofsky’s audacity, others say it’s ultimately too incoherent to pull off the "2001"-esque meditation it strives for. "The Fountain" currently stands at 39 percent on the Tomatometer.
Jack Black and Kyle Gass set out to unleash the Greatest Movie in the World when "Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny" hits theaters this week, but the critics have had a tough time figuring out if they’ve actually done it. The facts are smudged in this would-be biopic telling the story of the formation of The D and their quest to find a magical guitar pick that’ll transform them into rock gods. When the reviews are good The D look set to rock the world, but when they’re bad the word ‘cerebral’ pops up only in reference to what this movie is not. "Pick" currently stands at 48 percent on the Tomatometer.
"Bobby" and "For Your Consideration" opened in limited release last week, and now both are going wide. Emilio Estevez‘s "Bobby," an Altman-esque tale of the night of Robert Kennedy’s assassination starring half the population of California, is at 51 percent on the Tomatometer, and the Hollywood-skewering "For Your Consideration," Christopher Guest‘s latest ensemble comedy, is at 52 percent. Also opening this week in limited release are "Opal Dream," a coming-of-age tale about a little girl with imaginary friends in the outback, is at 80 percent, and "The History Boys," a tale of hypercompetitive English schoolboys adapted from Alan Bennett, is at 61 percent.
Finally, while it may be a bit early to call dreday as consistent a hitmaker as is Dr. Dre himself, it is worth noting that he came the closest to guessing the Tomatometer for "Let’s Go to Prison" (8 percent), making it his second consecutive Guess victory in a row. Watch out for player haters, dreday.
Thanks to Joe Utichi for his help on this article.