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Christmas Box Office Reality: Top Dog 'Les Miserables' Beats Out 'The Hobbit' and 'Django Unchained,' Rest of Field Shows Weakness

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
December 27, 2012 4:18 PM
5 Comments
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'Les Miserables'

After great openings days on Tuesday, both "Les Miserables" and "Django Unchained" fell 33% on Wednesday, with the result that the order of the top three films shifted from Christmas Day. "The Hobbit," up slightly from Tuesday, edged out "Django" by a clear margin, while falling about $1 million behind "Les Miserables." All three films though are showing great strength early in the holiday week.

The 12 days of Christmas are full of daily presents for those who watch movie box office carefully. Every day from December 25 through January 1 is a Saturday in terms of attendance and interest. But even more exciting, the results can shift day by day, as different audiences come out at certain times, and as word of mouth (more of a factor this time of year for a wider variety of movies than any other) spreads.

The top three films all are performing very well, but beyond them, weakness is apparent. The top ten films yesterday grossed around 25% less than last year, due to two factors - the lack of spark among the rest of the recent openings and weather problems in the eastern half of the country that cut into outside activities. The two-day figures for 2011 and 2012 are much closer (this year down about 7% tentatively), with 12/25 this year up from 2011.

'The Hobbit'

Most years, the day after Christmas sees an increase in gross from the holiday, particularly for kids' films (which often see a huge jump). Those that open on 12/25 usually fall, since they get a boost from core fans anxious to see them opening day. That seems to have been the case this year for "Les Miserables" and "Django." Both scored huge numbers on Tuesday, then both fell 33%. But most of the top ten fell, reinforcing the point that this year weather took its toll yesterday. (Only "The Hobbit" "Monsters Inc 3D" and "Rise of the Guardians" -- the most family-friendly titles -- among the top ten rose yesterday).

So the real story is in comparing the falls while taking into account comparisons to other years, keeping in mind the weather impact. Among Christmas Day openings, "War Horse" fell 7% last year, while most other films went up on 12/26 - a normal pattern. In 2009, "Sherlock Holmes," the record holder for a Christmas Day opening at $24 million, fell 11% its second day. "It's Complicated," also 2009, actually went up 17%.

The patterns this year seem to be similar to most years.  "Parental Guidance," also opening on Tuesday, fell 32%. Three other new films from last week - "Jack Reacher," "This Is 40" and "The Guilt Trip" - fell between a quarter and a third, less than the openers. Among the other non-family holdovers, "Lincoln" stood out, falling only 7%.

What this tells us so far among the hottest new titles is that both "Les Miserables" and "Django Unchained" remain very strong, but that "The Hobbit" is also showing strength beyond what was indicated from last weekend's big drop. (It also of course benefits from higher average ticket prices because of 3D and other surcharges.) But the other wide openings all look weak, and this Christmas is showing warning signs of a disappointing end to an uneven year.

Among more limited films not in the top ten, Weinstein's expansion of "Silver Lining Playbook" (theater count doubled to 745) grossed about $2 million for the two days (total now over $22 million). "Zero Dark Thirty" (Sony) is up to $956,000 in its first eight days, holding very well despite losing screens and multiple showtimes at its five prime theaters.

5 Comments

  • Rick Bergstrom | December 28, 2012 1:05 AMReply

    Um, all your "12/26" comparisons don't really work.

    This year, the 26th was a Wednesday and most people worked that day.

    In 2011, Christmas Day was on a Sunday which meant most businesses had Monday the 26th off. You have to go back to 2007 to find the 26th in the middle of the week (Wednesday).

    In 2010, the 26th was on a Sunday.
    In 2009, a Saturday
    In 2008, it was a Friday (and typically a busy movie day).

  • jared | December 27, 2012 6:14 PMReply

    Jamie Foxx is as threatening as maple syrup. He worshiped a gang thug who killed Koreans. He's a clown, not an actor. Now, go give the movie people more money like you supposed to, zombies!

  • Jamie | December 27, 2012 5:29 PMReply

    I'll get around to what I consider the "Eat Your vegetables" movies before Oscar, but this is the time of year when I see the films I'm really been wanting to see: Les Mis, Hobbit, and Lincoln. I have seen Django (don't remind me) The Master (Yuck) and SLP (equally Yuck). That leave ZDT and Sessions on the must see list. Critics truly need to remind themselves that they aren't the rulers of the cinema universe and that the public usually decides what ends up on the Top 100 lists a decade or so from now while the rest of the movies get shown in film school classes.

  • Savittt | December 27, 2012 7:53 PM

    The critics are the ones who make the top 100 lists a decade or so from now, so yes, they decide that too, though yeah, often they change their minds as stuff they praise doesn't hold up

    Also, it's Silver Lining's Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty. Just type them out, it takes two seconds, you look like a douchebag using so many abbreviations.

  • sergio | December 27, 2012 5:45 PM

    Must disagree with you on The Master and Django which I've seen twice already and I LOVE LOVE that film. Read my review here (despite how you feel about critics): http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/more-than-a-few-words-maybe-too-many-about-django-unchained

    But I must agree with you on SLP. Talk about the most overrated film of the year. Totally predictable and tedious from beginning to end

    And oh, The Sessions Another vastly overrated film

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