Box Office Guru

Box Office Wrapup: Klaatu Stands Still at #1

Delgo curiously missing from Top 10.

by | December 14, 2008 | Comments

Fearing extinction, humans across North America lined up to see the new
sci-fi thriller
The Day the
Earth Stood Still
which debuted at number one more than doubling the
gross of its nearest competitor. With only one new wide release making any
impact, most holdovers remained sturdy with relatively low declines. Meanwhile
with awards season getting more active, an assortment of acclaimed films debuted
in limited release with all showing muscular numbers. But overall, the
marketplace fell sharply from year-ago levels and given the upcoming slate of
releases, there may be nothing but down weekends for the remainder of the year.

Keanu Reeves
scored the best non-Matrix opening of his career with Earth which bowed
to an estimated $31M from 3,560 theaters for a solid $8,708 average. The remake
of the classic 1951 film of the same name finds the actor playing Klaatu, an
alien sent to this planet to drop the bad news to mankind that they’ll soon be
given the boot. The PG-13 film is an effects-driven disaster movie and delivered
a well-needed hit to Fox which has been struggling at the box office since last
spring. Earth marks only the second number one opening for the studio over the
last six months and is the company’s second best bow of the year after the $45M
for March’s Horton Hears a Who.

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The $80M-budgeted alien film skewed male but played to a broad age range.
According to studio research, 55% of the audience was male while 51% was over
the age of 25. Friday got off to a solid start with $11.6M in ticket sales,
Saturday inched up 2% to $11.8M, and the studio is estimating a 36% Sunday drop
to $7.6M. The grosses include the 120 Imax locations that are also playing Earth
with higher-priced tickets. Reviews were mostly negative and early audience
feedback is not looking good either so the long-term outlook is iffy.

Compared to other non-sequel non-summer action films from this year, Earth’s
debut came in below the $40.1M of Cloverfield and the $35.9M of 10,000
B.C.
Neither of those had any stars either. The performance was on par with
the debut of the 2005 Reeves vehicle Constantine which grossed $29.8M
over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its holiday opening, or $33M at today’s
ticket prices. That R-rated sci-fi thriller went on to finish with $75.5M, or
$84M at 2008 prices. The former Neo has been absent from the number one spot for
five long years. His last top slot debut came thanks to a supporting role in
Jack Nicholson’s Something’s Gotta Give which opened this very weekend in 2003.

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Fox unleashed The Day the Earth Stood Still in 90 international markets
this weekend and grossed a solid but not astounding $39M putting the global
opening at $70M.

Following its two-week stint at number one, the holiday comedy
Four Christmases

slipped to second place but posted the smallest decline of any film in the top
ten. The Vince
Vaughn
Reese
Witherspoon
hit slipped a remarkably low 21% to an estimated $13.3M as
moviegoers continue to ignore what critics have said and instead have been
responding to the humor, concept, and starpower. The Warner Bros. release has
now tallied $88M in 19 days and with Christmas Day next week, the film now looks
to reach $140M or more domestically. Four has also grossed $15.7M from 18
territories overseas early in its run with the United Kingdom accounting for
two-thirds of that take.

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Summit’s vampire smash
Twilight
witnessed another good hold dropping only 39% in its fourth
weekend to an estimated $8M allowing the cume to rise to $150.1M. Add in
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
and Quantum of Solace and this November
saw three different releases go on to top $150M in domestic sales for only the
second time in box office history. The only other time this happened was in 2004
when the November titles The Incredibles, The Polar Express, and National
Treasure
all soared above that mark.

Disney tacked a new 3D Pixar short onto its animated feature

Bolt
and used the gimmick to generate a strong hold. The canine comedy
grossed an estimated $7.5M in its fourth frame for a slender 23% decline. With
$88.9M to date, the 3D toon should have no problem busting through the $100M
mark by Christmas weekend.

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Fox’s big-budget epic Australia, which was shut out of any Golden Globe
nominations, followed with an estimated $4.3M, down 39%, for a disappointing
$37.9M cume. The James Bond actioner
Quantum of Solace

dropped 44% to an estimated $3.8M pushing the domestic total up to $157.7M.
Daniel Craig’s second turn as Agent 007 is the third biggest grosser in the
series (when not accounting for ticket price increases over the decades) behind
his franchise debut Casino Royale ($167M) and Pierce Brosnan’s final
flick Die Another Day ($160.9M).

The family reunion saga
Nothing
Like the Holidays
saw little cheer from ticket buyers debuting poorly to
an estimated $3.5M. The PG-13 film features a mostly Latino cast and averaged a
weak $2,095 from 1,671 locations. Despite a marketplace lacking any films
specifically targeting Spanish-speaking audiences, a release date during the
holiday season, and decent reviews, Nothing failed to spark interest with
moviegoers for its distributor Overture.

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The animated sequel

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
remains the top-grossing film in the post-Dark
Knight
era. Paramount and DreamWorks took in an estimated $3.3M, off 36%,
and upped the North American cume to $170M. Overseas, the zoo animals were in
second place after Keanu grossing an estimated $33.6M this weekend from 46
territories upping the robust tally to $172.7M. The worldwide haul now stands at
$343M with global school holidays still to come.

Focus more than tripled the run of its Sean Penn starrer
Milk
from 99 to
328 locations and collected an estimated $2.6M boosting the total to $7.6M. The
per-theater average was a commendable $8,037. Rounding out the top ten was the
Jason Statham action sequel
Transporter 3

with an estimated $2.2M, down 52%, for a cume of $29.3M for Lionsgate.

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A handful of awards contenders debuted impressively in limited release this
weekend. Miramax went into 15 theaters with its Meryl Streep drama
Doubt
and made
off with an estimated $525,000 for a stellar $35,000 average. Clint Eastwood’s
acting and directing duties were at the heart of
Gran Torino
which
averaged a sensational $47,333 for Warner Bros. thanks to its estimated $284,000
gross from just six sites. Kate Winslet’s Nazi war trial pic
The Reader

opened to an estimated $170,000 from eight playdates for a strong $21,250
average for The Weinstein Co. All three films earned generally good reviews and
will add more runs in additional cities over the coming weeks.

IFC Films platformed Steven Soderbergh’s biopic
Che

starring Benicio del Toro in solo houses in New York and Los Angeles and took in
an estimated $60,100 for a superb $30,050 average. The performance was
especially potent since the film clocks in at over four hours leaving the
theaters to offer just two showings per day. The distributor is only running
Che
for one week so it can qualify for Oscar consideration. In January it
will return to theaters for its official release in numerous markets.

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Among holdovers in limited release, Fox Searchlight’s awards contender
Slumdog
Millionaire
expanded from 78 to 169 theaters and grossed an estimated
$2.2M for a $8.1M sum. Averaging a sturdy $13,018, the Danny Boyle-directed pic
widens to about 500 runs on Friday. The political drama
Frost/Nixon

went from three to 39 sites this weekend and collected an estimated $630,000 for
Universal for a solid $16,154 average. The Ron Howard-directed film has grossed
$877,000 to date and expands into 350 locations on Christmas Day before going
fully wide in January.

The top ten films over this Will Smith-less weekend grossed an estimated $79.5M
which was down 47% from last year when I Am Legend opened in the top spot
with $77.2M; and down 22% from 2006 when The Pursuit of Happyness debuted at
number one with $26.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,
www.BoxOfficeGuru.com