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

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