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!
cemented his standing as the number one box office draw in Hollywood with his
latest action thriller
I Am Legend which
soared past lofty expectations to open on top and drive the overall marketplace
to an explosive weekend ending the recent slump. Also debuting much bigger than
expected and playing to a different audience was the family comedy
and the Chipmunks which scored a red hot bow. Together the dynamic duo
generated a jaw-dropping $121M in ticket sales and accounted for a whopping 75%
of the entire box office. Audiences starving for entertainment returned to the
multiplexes in droves thanks to two high-profile films that delivered exactly
what moviegoers were looking for driving the box office to its highest level
ever for a non-holiday weekend in December.
Scoring his eleventh career number one opening and seventh in a row,
ruled the box office with ease with the new sci-fi smash
I Am Legend
which commanded an estimated $76.5M on its first weekend to rank as the
superstar’s biggest debut ever by a wide margin. Averaging a sensational $21,224
from 3,606 theaters, the PG-13 film also broke the record for the biggest
December bow in history edging past the $72.6M of 2003’s
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Also impressive was the
fact that Legend delivered the fifth best non-summer debut ever behind a
trio of Harry Potter films which all wee November launches and
The Passion of
the Christ which was a February release. At this time of year, movie
openings don’t get much bigger than this.
I Am Legend was backed by a massive marketing campaign from Warner
Bros. which excited the core audience of sci-fi and action fans, but a broader
showing of ticket buyers also hit the cinemas. The big-budget film was also
released in 77 IMAX theaters where patrons were given the additional treat of
seeing the six-minute IMAX prologue for next summer’s much-anticipated Batman
Dark Knight. That helped to make Legend a hot ticket for hard
core comic book fans and assisted in fueling the grosses as tickets on the large
format screen ran as high as $16 each.
In just three days, Legend grossed as much as last weekend’s top
fifteen films combined and helped to power this weekend’s top ten to its best
performance since early August. With no co-stars, no well-known director, and no
other bells and whistles, I Am Legend‘s success relied completely on Will
Smith’s shoulders and the superstar proved how bankable he really is by blasting
past even the highest industry expectations this weekend. The former Fresh
Prince is well on his way to enjoying his seventh consecutive $250M+ global
grosser. No other star comes close to this achievement.
Warner Bros. launched I Am Legend in eight Asian territories over the
weekend and grabbed an additional $20M in business from key markets like Japan
and South Korea which kicked in more than $6M each. The sci-fi pic bowed at
number one in all markets except Hong Kong where it was the runnerup behind the
local film Warlords. Numerous European markets will open Legend
this coming weekend.
Setting off its own fireworks in second place was Fox’s family comedy
Alvin and the Chipmunks with a stunning estimate of $45M in its
first weekend. That was good enough to be the second largest December opening in
history for a PG-rated film behind only
The Chronicles of Narnia which debuted to $65.6M two years ago. The
gross doubled the studio’s expectations going into the frame and is now
well-positioned to be a monster hit with families once children begin their
winter breaks in the coming week. The Chipmunks also scored the third
largest opening of the year for a G or PG film trailing just
Shrek the Third‘s
Alvin also took advantage of a marketplace that was lacking options
for young kids. Studios typically have an abundance of titles for children in
December but this year’s menu is surprisingly light. Competition in the weeks
ahead will come primarily from
National Treasure: Book of Secrets opening on Friday and
The Water Horse
bowing next Tuesday, Christmas Day. Both carry PG ratings. Alvin‘s solid
A grade from CinemaScore also hints at a prolonged run ahead.
With big Will pulling in all ticket buyers looking for an action
extravaganza, last weekend’s top film
The Golden Compass saw its sales sink a troubling 65% to an
estimated $9M. The New Line release has grossed only $41M in its first ten days
and looks headed for a final domestic tally in the neighborhood of $60M.
Compass carries a production budget of more than $180M.
Two-time chart-topper Enchanted
fell a reasonable 44% to an estimated $6M in its fourth round boosting Disney’s
total to a solid $92.3M. Inching up one spot to fifth was the Coen brothers hit
No Country for
Old Men which took in an estimated $3M, down 27%, for a $33.6M cume.
The Miramax release earned four major Golden Globe nominations on Thursday
including Best Picture – Drama and enjoyed the smallest decline of any wide
A pair of Christmas comedies followed with an estimated $2.3M each.
Vince Vaughn‘s Fred
Claus dropped 50% and boosted its total to $69M for Warner Bros.
fell 54% and has banked an impressive $46M thus far which is more than triple
its production cost.
The historical romance
all films with seven Golden Globe nominations and expanded into more theaters
allowing it to pop into the top ten at number nine. Focus collected an estimated
$1.9M for the
Knightley pic from just 117 sites for a potent $15,838 per theater. Cume
sits at $3M and more markets will be added each week throughout the holiday
season. Rounding out the top ten was
with an estimated $1.8M, off 49%, for a $28.1M sum for Warner Bros.
Getting off to a solid start in limited release was the DreamWorks production
Kite Runner which Paramount Classics opened to an estimated $451,000
from 35 theaters for a strong $12,884 average. The controversial film was based
on the best-selling novel of the same name and garnered two Golden Globe
nominations including one for Best Foreign Language Film. Reviews were good but
not spectacular, however audience reactions were very positive with 90% of those
polled calling the film "excellent" or "very good." That could bode well for the
expansion this Friday when The Kite Runner widens to 350 runs.
Fox Searchlight continued to see healthy results from its two arthouse
offerings. The teen pregnancy comedy
Juno expanded from
seven to 40 sites and grossed an estimated $1.4M putting the quirky pic at
number eleven nationwide despite its very limited play. The PG-13 film scored a
trio of Globe nods for picture, actress, and screenplay and posted a sensational
$36,000 average. The performance was similar to that of the distributor’s
dysfunctional family comedy
Sunshine which in its second weekend of limited release grossed $1.5M
from 58 sites for a $25,521 average. A year ago, that film also earned Globe
nods in the Comedy category for picture and actress before going on to become a
major Oscar contender. Juno will expand to more than 200 theaters on Friday,
then to over 850 runs on Christmas Day, and will reach 1,500+ playdates on
Three one-word-titled films tumbled out of the top ten over the weekend.
Paramount’s animated adventure
Beowulf lost 70%
of its audience and grossed an estimated $1.4M. With an impressive $79.2M from
North America, the $150M production should go on to finish its domestic run with
$80-82M. Overseas where Warner Bros. is releasing the epic tale, Beowulf
smashed through the $100M mark boosting the global tally to $180M and counting.
Fox’s stylish assassin pic Hitman
also crumbled by 70% and took in an estimated $1M for a total to date of $38.2M.
A decent final of about $40M seems likely. MGM’s suspense thriller
Awake grossed an
estimated $1.1M, down 66%, leaving the pic with a dismal $13M cume. Look for a
final of $14-15M.
The top ten films surged to an estimated $150.8M which was up a stunning 47%
from last year when
The Pursuit of
Happyness opened at number one with $26.5M; and up a solid 26% from 2005
when King Kong
debuted on top with $50.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got the last man on earth
(I Am Legend, starring
Will Smith), Alvin, Simon,
and Theodore (Alvin and the Chipmunks, starring
and mommy kissing Santa Claus (The Perfect Holiday, starring
Union and Morris Chestnut). What do the critics have to say?
I Am Legend stars box office champ
Will Smith as
a man who finds he’s the last of the human race. It’s an intriguing premise, but
critics say the film is something of a mixed bag. Smith plays scientist Robert
Neville, the only survivor of a worldwide plague. As he roams the abandoned
streets of New York City, he slowly comes to the realization that he’s not
alone: a band of bloodthirsty quasi-humans have been watching him. Critics say
the film features outstanding work from Will Smith; they also
note the film’s excellent production design and interesting philosophical
questions about the nature of humanity. But there’s also the feeling from many
pundits that while the movie starts out contemplative and intriguing, it heads
into schlocky B-movie territory as it goes along, jettisoning the elements that
made the setup so intriguing. At 57 percent on the Tomatometer, this one isn’t
quite legendary. (Check
our Total Recall feature on I Am Legend author Richard Matheson.)
It appears the big-screen version of
Alvin and the Chipmunks gives lie to the theme song of the group’s Saturday
morning incarnation, which said Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were "coming on
stronger than ever before." In fact, critics say this may be the weakest
vehicle for the helium-voiced rodents yet.
Jason Lee stars as David Seville,
the impresario behind the famed band of singing, anthropomorphic woodland
creatures, who run afoul of the record industry. The pundits say despite a few laughs, this is pretty bland stuff: dated, weakly constructed, and lacking in three-dimensional characters of the human or CGI variety. Kids, sing along!
"Twenty-eight-percent Tomatometer-time is here/time for toys, and time for
Another week, another ribald-but-sentimental
holiday comedy. The latest entry in the subgenre is
The Perfect Holiday, a film critics say is inaccurately
titled. Holiday tells the story of a single parent (Gabrielle
Union) who takes her kids to see Santa (Morris Chestnut) at the local mall, and
starts thinking she might like to be Mrs. Claus. The critics say the film
squanders an excellent cast that also includes the likes of
Charlie Murphy (oops, I mean "Chaaahhlllie
Murphaaaay") on a shopworn script that delivers few laughs and less cheer.
At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to skip this
Also opening this week in limited release:
A wave of new product hits the marketplace at a time when exciting films are desperately needed to end the current box office funk. The science fiction thriller I Am Legend leads the way but will be joined by the family comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks and the romantic comedy The Perfect Holiday. For only the second time all year, just two films managed grosses of more than $5M last weekend. Hollywood critically needs this weekend to turn things around if it wants to end the year on a happy note.
Gunning for his seventh consecutive number one opening, Will Smith headlines the sci-fi thriller I Am Legend, the latest Hollywood film based on the classic 1954 novel of the same name. The PG-13 entry finds the superstar playing the last man alive on Earth after a virus wipes out the entire human population in the not-so-distant future. Legend could prove to be Smith’s greatest box office challenge to date since there are no famous co-stars, no big director, and the novel it is based on is not exactly a hot item in today’s era. This film is Will’s to make or break.
But for millions of movie fans, the former Fresh Prince plus action equals a definite trip to the local multiplex. The actor is right at the top of the current A list and is arguably the most bankable star alive consistently drawing in audiences that cut across all race, gender, and age barriers. Will Smith can bring out paying audiences for sci-fi (I, Robot), comedy (Hitch), drama (The Pursuit of Happyness), action (Bad Boys II), and animation (Shark Tale). With Legend he now flirts with the boundaries of horror as battling killer zombies that attack at night is a far cry from being a date doctor.
Warner Bros. has good timing for I Am Legend. The marketplace has been about as dead as the world depicted in the film and audiences are hungry for an event film to get them back into the habit of moviegoing. Competition will not be much of a factor and business will be coming in from many directions with teens and young adults leading the way and fans of sci-fi and action delivering a big bang too. The studio’s massive marketing push will do the trick and adding more bite will be the simultaneous Imax release where higher ticket prices ($16 in New York City) will give the grosses a boost. Plus the strategic move of playing the new prologue for next summer’s much-anticipated Batman flick The Dark Knight with the Imax release of I Am Legend just fuels more excitement and guarantees more asses in the seats.
Will Smith is looking to score one of the biggest December openings ever for a non-Peter Jackson flick. A big drop next weekend is likely, but for now consumers are keeping all eyes on I Am Legend which attacks 3,606 theaters on Friday. An opening weekend gross of about $50M could result.
Competition should not be too bad since Enchanted which is going into its fourth session is the only family film generating any decent dough right now. Instead, holiday shopping may be the real threat as many parents will wait until a little later before heading to the cinemas for this one. The property is not popular enough to create any true sense of urgency. But this is common in mid December. Last year, Charlotte’s Web got off to a slow start with a $11.5M bow but went on to make seven times that amount with a final tally of $82.6M. Fox’s marketing push has been aggressively targeting young kids and the studio knows that little success lies with teens and young adults. Going very wide with 3,476 playdates on Friday, Alvin and the Chipmunks could gross about $15M this weekend but hold on well over the holidays.
Disney’s Enchanted, which earned a pair of Golden Globe nominations, is slowly but surely making its way towards the $100M mark. Another moderate 35% decline would give the fairy tale pic around $7M which would push the sum up to $93M. Sony’s This Christmas will face direct competition from The Perfect Holiday so a 40% dip may result giving the pic $3M and $47M to date.
LAST YEAR: The man in black beat out some tough competition to conquer the box office. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness led a wave of new releases with its top spot debut grossing $26.5M for Sony. The feel-good smash played well over the holiday season surging to $162.6M domestically and $294M worldwide – an impressive sum for a Smith vehicle not driven by guns or special effects. Fox’s fantasy actioner Eragon bowed close behind in second with $23.2M on its way to $75M from North America representing only 30% of the global take. Overseas the numbers were much stronger with $175M in ticket sales for a powerful $250M tally worldwide. Third place also featured a new release. Paramount’s family film Charlotte’s Web debuted to the tune of $11.5M but reached a solid $82.6M by the end of the run. Rounding out the top five were the penguin toon Happy Feet with $8.4M and the romantic comedy The Holiday with $8M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com