Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Preview: Dragons and Webs Duke It Out at Theaters

by | December 14, 2006 | Comments

Hollywood studios try to inject some juice into the North American box office this weekend by unleashing three big new releases aimed at getting people back into the habit of going to the movies.

Boys will be courted with the fantasy adventure pic "Eragon," girls will get to play with "Charlotte’s Web," and adults looking for a feel-good story to counter their holiday shopping blues will have the father-and-son Smith team in "The Pursuit of Happyness."

The dragon tale "Eragon" attacks the cinemas on Friday giving fantasy audiences the entertainment they’ve been missing this holiday season. Fox’s PG-rated actioner will try to fill a void in a season without a "Potter," "Narnia," or "Hobbit." Don’t expect grosses to come close to the numbers posted by those megahits, but if "Eragon" can still reach a portion of that huge audience, the studio will be happy. Ordinarily, the effects-driven film would probably have a tough time at the box office but thanks to a severe lack of competition, Fox has a golden opportunity. The marketing push has been strong and young males have little else to be excited by. Gamers might also be interested in seeing this adventure on the big screen and leave behind their new hardware for a couple of hours. A built-in audience of readers of the book will help too. Landing in 3,020 theaters, "Eragon" could open with around $23M this weekend.


The latest fantasy novel turned fantasy epic: "Eragon."

The beloved children’s story "Charlotte’s Web" hits the multiplexes with Hollywood’s favorite young girl Dakota Fanning in the lead role. Paramount’s G-rated tale will aim for family audiences and is using the starpower of voice actors Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, and John Cleese to connect with parents. With "Happy Feet" being the only major family film to do well over the past few weeks, kids should be ready to move on to something new. Girls will probably outnumber the boys here especially with "Eragon" opening at the same time. But the brand is known and the rating is tame so parents will look at this as a safe bet for their younger ones. Good reviews will help too. With children going on their school holidays soon, look for long-term strength as many will wait until Christmas week to go and see it. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "Charlotte’s Web" might take in about $21M this weekend.


"Charlotte’s Web," no longer in animated form.

Will Smith and his real-life son Jaden Smith hit the big screen together in Sony’s uplifting drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" which aims to give adult moviegoers something to see this weekend. Based on the true story of Chris Gardner, the PG-13 film tells the story of a man who hits hard times and becomes homeless and moonlights during the day in a stock broker training program hoping for a new lease on life. "Pursuit" has gotten Smith some notice for his acting performance (including a Golden Globe nomination) and the novelty of seeing father and son in a movie together will certainly help sell tickets. The man in black has some of the strongest pull among Hollywood stars at the box office with appeal that transcends all age, race, and gender lines. It’s no wonder that he is now pursuing his tenth $100M blockbuster.

Reviews have been mixed for the film overall even though Smith is hearing buzz about a possible Oscar nomination. Sony must have been hoping for better reactions from critics though. Instead, the studio will appeal directly to adult moviegoers and their desire to see an uplifting feel-good story anchored by a popular star at this time of year. Don’t expect "Pursuit" to reach the levels of the actor’s last film "Hitch" which bowed to $43.1M from 3,575 theaters for a $12,068 average. But if good word-of-mouth circulates, it could stay in the top ten throughout the holiday season and go on to be a winner. Appeal looks solid with both men and women plus a strong turnout from African Americans will help to boost the grosses. Opening in 2,852 theaters, "The Pursuit of Happyness" might debut with around $19M.


Will Smith and son, playing Chris Gardner and son, in "The Pursuit of Happyness."

Opening with special solo engagements in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco is the lavish musical "Dreamgirls" starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson. Paramount and DreamWorks are putting on a special live roadshow performance with these engageemnts for ten days before the film expands across the country on December 25. In New York City, "Dreamgirls" opens exclusively at the giant Ziegfeld theater which has already sold out its five weekend performances. With a giant auditorium of 1,200 seats and ticket prices of $25, look for this one theater to contribute over $100,000 to the weekend gross. West Coast venues hope to contribute similar numbers. Though the gross will be inflated by the ticket price, sky high demand thanks to critics awards, Globe nods, and Oscar buzz has already led to Friday’s opening night shows in California to sell out as well.


"Dreamgirls," opening in limited locations.

Other new films entering the marketplace in limited release include Steven Soderbergh‘s World War II drama "The Good German" starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire from Warner Bros. MGM counters with its Iraq War drama "Home of the Brave" starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Christina Ricci, and 50 Cent. The Weinstein Company platforms the Jude Law thriller "Breaking and Entering" from director Anthony Minghella in an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles.


Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in "Home of the Brave."

Among holdovers, last weekend’s top film "Apocalypto" moves into its all-important second weekend which will indicate what type of staying power Mel Gibson‘s latest film has. Curiousity and media hype helped to bring out moviegoers on the first weekend, but will they keep coming? The Buena Vista release fared much better than expected on Sunday grossing $840,000 more than originally expected. The studio expected a Sunday drop of 38% but was pleased to see the bloody epic dip only 23%. This weekend’s three new offerings do not look to give too much of a direct threat to "Apocalypto" so a 35% drop may in order. That would give the Mayan adventure about $9M for the frame and $29M in ten days.

Warner Bros. will see some competition for its penguin blockbuster "Happy Feet," but its hit toon has been holding up quite well each week. A 35% fall would leave "Feet" with around $8.5M and allow it to flirt with the $150M mark. Sony’s "The Holiday" got off to a decent but not spectacular start with its $12.8M bow. The Cameron DiazKate Winslet starrer may slide 35% to roughly $8.5M pushing the total to $25M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Leaping into the number one spot, although with less muscle than expected, Peter Jackson‘s "King Kong" opened with $50.1M over the weekend and $66.2M over its five-day debut. Universal’s mega-budgeted ape flick went on to gross a commendable $218.1M domestically and $549M worldwide which fell a bit short of the film’s lofty expectations given its budget and filmmaker. "Kong" knocked fellow effects-driven actioner "The Chronicles of Narnia" to second place with $31.8M dropping 51% in its sophomore frame. "Narnia" would eventually climb back into the top spot. Debuting in third was the romantic comedy "The Family Stone" starring Sarah Jessica Parker with $12.5M on its way to $60.1M for Fox. Warner Bros. rounded out the top five with "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" which grossed $6M and "Syriana" which collected $5.6M. No other films dared to open against "King Kong," however the critically acclaimed "Brokeback Mountain" expanded to just 69 theaters in its second weekend and jumped into the top ten with $2.5M for a scorching $36,355 average.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tag Cloud

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