Box Office Guru Wrapup: National Treasure Uncovers Holiday Gold at #1 Spot

While Walk stumbles Hard.

by | December 23, 2007 | Comments

Nicolas Cage‘s
latest action adventure film

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
claimed the number one spot at
the North American box office during what was a red hot session at the
multiplexes. Along with the powerful sophomore holdovers
I Am Legend


Alvin and the Chipmunks
, the awesome threesome accounted for
two-thirds of all business in the marketplace. Four new releases aimed at adult
audiences debuted to mixed results over the final shopping weekend before
Christmas. The top ten flirted with the $150M mark for the second consecutive
weekend as the box office showed incredible strength in the final days of the

Cage posted
one of the best openings of his career with

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
which debuted on top with an
estimated $45.5M from an aggressive launch in 3,832 theaters. The Disney sequel
averaged a stellar $11,874 which was almost identical to the first weekend
average of $11,648 for its predecessor
National Treasure

which opened in November 2004 with $35.1M from 3,017 playdates. That film went
on to gross $173M domestically and $347M worldwide. Book of Secrets hopes
to exceed both totals by the end of its run giving the studio another lucrative
franchise. Cage’s previous best bow was $45.4M for last February’s
Ghost Rider so if
estimates hold, Secrets will eke out a new career high for the actor.

With its PG rating, Book of Secrets played to a broad audience. Studio
research showed that the action pic’s crowd was 54% male while those over the
age of 25 accounted for 55%. With so many R-rated and adult-skewing films in the
current marketplace, Treasure was one of the only pics that people of all
ages could go and see together. Reviews were mostly negative for the sequel.

Following its record-breaking number one launch last weekend,
Will Smith‘s
sci-fi blockbuster

I Am Legend

dropped to second place with an estimated $34.2M losing an understandable
56% of its audience. The Warner Bros. smash has taken in a stunning $137.5M in
only ten days and could shoot past the $200M mark after the holidays giving
Smith his fourth trip past the double-century mark. Overseas, Legend opened at
number one in seven new countries collecting an estimated $25.3M from all 15
territories. That boosted the international sum to $54.3M and the global tally
to a spectacular $192M with many more major markets like Germany, Australia, and
the United Kingdom still to come.

Alvin and the Chipmunks
scored a terrific second weekend dropping
only 35% to an estimated $29M for a potent ten-day cume of $84.9M. With few
other options for young kids, the PG-rated comedy faced little direct
competition and should continue to attract large amounts of families for the
rest of the year. Alvin should be able to blast past the $150M mark and
could even go much higher.

Far back in fourth place was the
Tom HanksJulia
Charlie Wilson’s
which led all other new releases this weekend with an estimated
$9.6M. Playing in 2,575 theaters, the R-rated pic averaged a mediocre $3,736 per
venue. Universal is hoping that this older-skewing film will find its audience
in the long run over the holidays and into January. Charlie nabbed five
Golden Globe nominations, the second most of any film after
seven, and cost $75M to produce. Reviews were generally positive. Studio
research showed that 52% of the audience was female, 88% was Caucasian, and 80%
was over the age of 30.

Paramount gave the DreamWorks musical

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
a moderate national
roll-out in 1,249 theaters and found itself with a solid fifth place bow with an
estimated $9.4M. The
Johnny Depp
film directed by
Tim Burton
averaged an impressive $7,486 per site and earned good reviews
from critics along with four Golden Globe nods. Studio research showed that
played slightly more female with 52% of the audience being women. Those
over the age of 25 accounted for 65% of the crowd. The $50M film will expand
further on January 11, however the road ahead could be bumpy given its
surprising 25% plunge in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday. Other films saw
their Saturday numbers match or exceed Friday’s. Paramount is hoping this
musical plays more like
like Rent.

Also opening this weekend but to little fanfare was the romance
P.S. I Love You

which bowed in sixth with an estimated $6.5M. The
Hilary SwankGerard
drama averaged a mild $2,651 from 2,454 theaters and played mostly to
adult women. Critics were mostly underwhelmed. Disney’s princess tale Enchanted
dipped only 25% to an estimated $4.2M and boosted its cume to $98.4M. The
Amy Adams hit
will join the century club by Christmas.

The pre-holiday weekend’s biggest casualty was the comedy
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox
which stumbled into eighth place with a dismal $4.1M,
according to estimates. Produced by comedy king
Judd Apatow
and starring
John C. Reilly
, the R-rated film averaged a measly $1,547 per site Reviews
were generally positive. By comparison, Apatow’s other R-rated comedy hits this
year Knocked Up
and Superbad
opened to $30.7M and $33.1M, respectively. Sony marketed Walk Hard as
being from the man responsible for comedy hits like Superbad and

Talladega Nights
, but audiences did not bite this time. Walk Hard cost
$35M to produce and proved that Apatow does not always have the golden touch.

The fantasy adventure

The Golden Compass
tumbled 55% in its third weekend to an estimated
$4M and placed ninth. The New Line release has grossed only $48.4M domestically
but has already taken in over $100M from outside of North America.

Rounding out the top ten was the indie comedy hit
with an
estimated $3.4M from just 304 locations for a stellar $11,184 average. Fox
Searchlight expanded the award-winning teen pregnancy pic from 40 locations last
weekend and is still generating a strong average. With $6.4M in the bank,
is turning out to be the little-engine-that-could hit of the holiday
season and will widen to 998 sites on Tuesday, Christmas Day.

A six-pack of films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The period
its sales inch up by 9% to an estimated $2M putting the total for Focus at
$5.8M. Fellow awards season contender
No Country For
Old Men
fell 40% to an estimated $1.7M giving Miramax a cume of

The Perfect
tumbled 56% to an estimated $1M in only its second weekend
for a weak $4.5M for Yari Film Group. Sony’s
This Christmas
has fared much better this season and grossed an estimated $925,000 pushing the
cume to a solid $47.7M.

Warner Bros. saw steep drops for a pair of its releases.
Vince Vaughn‘s Fred
crashed 66% and made an estimated $755,000 while
August Rush

fell 74% to an estimated $455,000. Totals to date stand at $70.5M and $29.5M,

The top ten films grossed an estimated $149.8M which was up a sturdy 45% from
last year when
Night at the
opened at number one with $30.4M over three days; and up a
stunning 58% from 2005 when
King Kong
in the top spot with $21.3M in three days.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,