Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Preview: New Year Kicks Off With Killer Call

2007's holiday fare likely to dominate again.

by | January 3, 2008 | Comments

The first frame of 2008 brings only one new release which means the North
American box office should be ruled mostly by holiday holdovers. The horror
picture One Missed
Call
will give fans of scary movies something new to nibble on. Awards
contenders will continue to expand including indie sensation
Juno
which will add
hundreds of new theaters to its run. Overall, the healthy marketplace should
post a year-over-year gain versus 2007 to kick off the new year on the right
note.

Hoping to capture some of the success that
The Ring
enjoyed a
half-decade ago, Warner Bros. unleashes the new supernatural thriller
One Missed Call
.
The PG-13 film is a remake of a hit Japanese chiller about young adults who
receive voicemail recordings of their own deaths shortly before they are killed.
Fright films like these typically become winners through two important elements
– a creepy plot and strong marketing. One Missed Call has both. Trailers
and television spots have been very effective in communicating the storyline and
they’ve been edited well enough to give the target audience the chills.


Marketplace conditions are also favorable since there are no other horror
films out there plus no competing new releases this weekend either. Teens and
young adults are the main audience and they are done with the Fresh Prince’s
turn as the last man on Earth and are ready to go see something new. And since
most college students are still on winter break, look for a solid showing from
that segment. Plus a trim running time of under 90 minutes will ensure plenty of
showtimes.


The first non-holiday weekend of January proved to be just the right time to
open two other recent horror hits. In 2006, the R-rated
Hostel
bowed to $19.6M
and a $8,909 average while a year earlier
White Noise
with
its PG-13 classification bowed to $24.1M and a stellar $10,665 average. However,
last January was a tough one for fright flicks as
Primeval
opened
later in the month to only $6M and a $2,475 average and
The Hitcher
debuted
to just $7.8M and a $2,758 average. Opening in 2,240 theaters, One Missed Call
could open to about $9M.


Fox Searchlight will give another major expansion to its hot indie smash
Juno
which will
try to climb one more chart position this weekend. The PG-13 film has been on a
tear since going nationwide on Christmas Day becoming a feel-good hit for the
arthouse crowd and beyond. On Friday, Juno widens from 1,019 to 1,880
locations. Look for its average of $10,436 to simmer down to about $7,000 in
this frame resulting in a solid $13M weekend gross which again would be the
biggest of its run so far. The total would rise to $49M with the road ahead
leading past the $100M mark.


With only one new film going into release,
Nicolas Cage
hopes to make it three straight weekends atop the box office charts with

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
. The Disney smash could drop by
40% to about $22M lifting the cume to an amazing $171M which would be within
striking distance of the $173M of its 2004 predecessor.


Like Treasure,
Alvin
and the Chipmunks
also faces virtually no competition from One
Missed Call
. The Fox comedy might fall by 35% to roughly $19M which would
push the total to $176M.


Sci-fi megahit I
Am Legend
has become the third biggest grosser of
Will Smith‘s
career and its cume is still climbing higher. Warner Bros. could see a 40% drop
to around $16M for a gross to date of $227M. The quarter-billion mark
domestically is still within its reach. Overseas, Legend has vaulted to $126M
already so the $400M worldwide barrier could crumble this weekend.


Tom Hanks
and Julia
Roberts
enjoyed a healthy post-Christmas bump for
Charlie Wilson’s
War
which mature audiences are now finding. Universal’s 1980s-set
flick may drop by 30% to $8M for an overall sum of $52M.


LAST YEAR: For the third consecutive weekend,
Ben Stiller
and Will Smith dominated the multiplexes with their latest films.
Night at the
Museum
topped the charts once again and grossed $23.7M in its third
frame while
The Pursuit of Happyness
ranked second with $12.9M in its fourth outing.
The blockbuster duo had grossed a combined $288M to date and eventually reached
$414M together. Universal’s futuristic drama
Children of Men

expanded nationally and opened in third with a strong $10.2M and $8,435 average.
Paramount’s
Hilary Swank
drama
Freedom Writers

debuted in fourth with a solid $9.4M and $6,916 average. Respective final
grosses of $35.3M and $36.6M resulted.
Dreamgirls rounded out
the top five with $8.7M and a potent $10,168 average. Opening poorly in sixth
was Lionsgate’s kidpic
Happily N’Ever
After
with $6.6M on its way to only $15.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,
www.BoxOfficeGuru.com