Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Marley Takes #1, The Spirit Tanks

Bedtime Stories, Benjamin Button and Valkyrie follow in the top spots.

by | December 28, 2008 | Comments

This weekend people were in the mood for movies over Christmas weekend as multiplexes were jam-packed with customers that powered four different new releases to more than $30M in ticket sales each over the long Thursday-to-Sunday holiday session. The Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston dog drama Marley & Me led the way with a huge debut that exceeded expectations. Adam Sandler’s new family comedy Bedtime Stories and Brad Pitt’s period drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button generated nearly identical numbers with the former winning the three-day period and the latter grossing more over the four-day span. Tom Cruise also showed some firepower with his war thriller Valkyrie which found a large audience too.

North American ticket buyers had no problems spending ferociously as the Top 20 films hauled in a stunning $200M making for the second biggest weekend of 2008 after only the July 18-20 frame when The Dark Knight scored its record debut. This weekend’s explosive box office was even more impressive considering the fact that there were no sequels in the top ten at all. Instead, moviegoers spread their money across numerous star-driven films as everyone found something to their liking.


Soaring ahead of its competitors, Marley & Me scored a powerful top spot debut grossing an estimated $37M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a sensational $51.7M since its Thursday launch. After several months of disappointments, Fox finally delivered a surefire smash averaging a sturdy $10,632 over three days from 3,480 locations. The studio began 2008 with hits like 27 Dresses, Jumper, and Horton Hears a Who but then stumbled with a handful of films that generated little excitement.

Based on the best-selling book, the PG-rated Marley drew upon a built-in audience but the studio also marketed the film to dog lovers and families to pull in a wide range of business. Thursday saw a stellar $14.7M in sales which set a new record for Christmas Day openers beating the $10.2M of 2001’s Ali which translates to about $13M at today’s ticket prices. With kids off from school and a large number of adults having no work either, everyday this week will be like a Saturday at the box office so Marley could shatter the $100M mark by next weekend.


Disney’s comedy adventure Bedtime Stories, picked by many to be the top dog this weekend, settled into second with an estimated $28.1M in three days and $38.6M over its four-day Thursday-to-Sunday launch. The Adam Sandler family pic averaged an impressive $7,625 during three days and played to a broad audience. Studio data showed that 51% of the turnout was female and 52% was over 25 so all four quadrants were well represented. Bedtime basically targeted the same audience that powered Ben Stiller film Night at the Museum to a $42.2M four-day Christmas weekend launch two years ago. Reviews were dismal, but moviegoers responded instead to the starpower and effects-driven adventure of the PG-rated entry.


Brad Pitt attracted a sizable audience to his Oscar contender The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with an estimated $27M over the weekend and a stellar $39M over the four-day span. Paramount averaged a strong $9,036 from 2,988 theaters over three days with its PG-13 tale of a man who ages in reverse. Directed by David Fincher, Button co-stars Cate Blanchett and runs 2 hours and 47 minutes in length meaning most auditoriums were offering just four shows per day instead of five. Reviews have been very favorable and the film has scored five Golden Globe nominations. Many expect it to be a Best Picture candidate come Oscar night on February 22.

Adult women made up the biggest sector of the audience for Brad. Females were 60% of the crowd while 70% were over 25. Button was not an easy sell for the studio and competition for mature adults was intense so the large opening truly underlines the drawing power of Shiloh’s dad. In fact its first day take of $12M marked the second biggest Christmas Day opening in history after Marley.

Co-produced by Warner Bros. which will handle the film overseas, Button cost a whopping $150M to produce. But with Golden Globe awards and Academy Award nominations to be announced in January, the epic film should have long legs at the box office and may surpass that figure in domestic coin.


MGM performed a Christmas miracle this weekend. The studio took what was long considered a surefire flop anchored by a star on the decline and turned it around and into a big hit. That film, Tom Cruise’s war drama Valkyrie, debuted in fourth place with an estimated $21.5M over the weekend and a terrific $30M since its Thursday launch. Invading 2,711 venues, the thriller about a plot to assassinate Hitler averaged a sturdy $7,942.Valkyrie‘s debut was in the same vicinity as other Cruise pics like Collateral ($24.7M opening) and The Last
($24.3M) although those films opened on Fridays during non-holiday frames.

Valkyrie took advantage of a void in the marketplace and seized the opportunity. Emotional dramas like Marley and Button skewed female and Bedtime appealed more to kids leaving adult men with very few films to be excited about. Studio research showed that the PG-13 film pulled in an audience that was 55% male and 66% over 25. Backed by decent reviews, the World War II flick now has a shot at becoming yet another $100M hit for Cruise capping off a major comeback year for Suri’s old man who also delivered one of the summer’s most memorable performances with his Golden Globe-nominated turn in Tropic Thunder.


Following a less-than-spectacular opening last weekend, Jim Carrey’s comedy Yes Man dropped from first to fifth place with an estimated $16.5M. But the Warner Bros. release held up well dipping only 10% putting the ten-day cume at a solid $49.6M. A trip to the $100M club may still result for the A-list funnyman. Will Smith also saw a good hold for his latest venture. The do-gooder drama Seven Pounds slipped by 10% as well from its opening frame and grossed an estimated $13.4M pushing its ten-day tally to $39M for Sony.

Universal’s animated film The Tale of Despereaux eased by just 7% and collected an estimated $9.4M for seventh place. The top ten’s only G-rated film has taken in $27.9M in ten days and has helped the studio reach a new company high with $1.1 billion in box office in 2008. Keanu Reeves followed with an estimated $7.9M for his sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still. Down 20%, the Fox release has pulled in $63.6M in 17 days.


Not all new releases clicked with moviegoers this holiday weekend. The one casualty was Lionsgate’s stylish actioner The Spirit which bowed to an estimated $6.5M over three days and $10.3M across four days. Playing in 2,509 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,593. Graphic novel king Frank Miller made his solo directing debut after co-helming the 2005 hit Sin City with Robert Rodriguez which opened much stronger with $29.1M over three days.

Rounding out the top ten was Miramax’s Doubt which expanded nationally from 39 to 1,267 theaters and grossed an estimated $5.7M. Averaging a respectable $4,479, the Meryl Streep pic has taken in $8.8M thus far and has made the queen bee of actresses a major contender for the Oscar…again.


Everything has been going right for specialty distributors this holiday season as every major limited release has been met with sold out shows and strong averages. Two more new pics enjoyed solid bows this weekend. The much-hyped Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet reunion in Revolutionary Road led to the year’s best opening weekend average. Paramount Vantage took in an estimated $192,000 from only three sites for a robust $64,000 average and will expand next
weekend into the top 15 markets. Road has earned four Golden Globe nominations and has been well-liked by most critics.

Overture got off to a nice start with its double Globe nominee Last Chance Harvey which bowed to an estimated $96,000 from six locations for a solid $16,000 average. The Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson pic has grossed $132,000 since debuting on Christmas Day.


Holdover pics in limited release scored some extra theaters and saw their weekend grosses climb. Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire grossed an estimated $4.5M from 614 theaters for an impressive $7,248 average, up 46% from last weekend. The Clint Eastwood hit Gran Torino expanded from 19 to 84 sites and collected an estimated $2.4M for a powerful $29,048 average. Totals sit at
$19.7M and $4.3M, respectively.

Milk inched up 6% to an estimated $1.8M from 311 playdates for a $5,883 average. The Sean Penn starrer has grossed $13.6M for Focus. Parent company Universal used Christmas to widen its political drama Frost/Nixon from 39 to 205 locations and saw an estimated $1.5M in sales for a strong $7,180 average. Cume is $3.7M.

The Weinstein Co. expanded the Kate Winslet flick The Reader into 116 houses and took in an estimated $671,000 for a $5,787 average. Mickey Rourke’s The Wrestler averaged a muscular $21,170 thanks to its estimated $381,000 from 18 arenas for Fox Searchlight.


Also notable below the top ten was the vampire blockbuster Twilight surpassing the total gross of fellow November hit Quantum of Solace. Just a month ago, nobody would have guessed that the modestly-budgeted $37M teen saga would go on to outgun the latest James Bond film and its $200M+ budget. Twilight grossed an estimated $4.5M this weekend, down only 13%, for a $167.1M domestic total while Quantum fell 29% to an estimated $1.5M pushing its cume to $164.3M. Overseas, of course, is another story with the 007 actioner having a $300M advantage, but Stephanie Meyer fans have given the film industry something that is rare nowadays – a hit with legs. For the year, Twilight ranks as the eighth biggest blockbuster of 2008.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $172.9M which was up 9% from last year when National Treasure: Book of Secrets stayed in the top spot with $36.7M; and up 29% from 2006 when Night at the Museum remained at number one with $36.8M.

Tag Cloud

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