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Weekend Box Office Declines, Lowest Since 2008; New Year's Eve and The Sitter Disappoint, Tinker Tailor Scores

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by Brian Fuson
December 11, 2011 1:13 PM
6 Comments
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New Year's Eve


The pre-Christmas blues continued at the boxoffice this weekend as two new arrivals failed to ignite a spark with audiences. Overall revenues were down a steep 15% from the comparable frame last year. The projected total for all films this weekend is a dismal $78 million – the lowest grossing weekend since September 2008.

Studios are hanging on hopes that the holidays will kick into gear next weekend with Warner Bros.'s sequel “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and Twentieth Century Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked."

This weekend Garry Marshall's $55-million romantic ensemble “New Year’s Eve” was expected to open at $19 million or more, but took the top spot with an estimated $13.7 million.  By Hollywood standards “New Year’s Eve”-- set in New York and starring Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Jon Bon Jovi, Ashton Kutcher, Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hillary Swank, and Katherine Heigl--was modestly budgeted; the Christmas and New Years play period is still ahead. The venerable Marshall's last film “Valentine’s Day,” another sprawling romantic-comedy, opened last February with $56.3 million and finished its domestic run with $110.5 million.

it was a rough weekend for the business overall, as audiences are out holiday shopping. “It was definitely a soft weekend, I was hoping to get a better number,” said Warners distribution chief Dan Fellman. With better exit polls than “Valentine’s Day,” Fellman added, “I’m looking for a good hold and a solid multiple as the holiday playtime approaches.”  But “New Year’s Eve” earned a CinemaScore of B+; females comprised 70% of attendees.

Fox's bawdy R-rated counterprogrammer “The Sitter” starring Jonah Hill, took the second spot with 2,750 locations, tapping just an estimated $10 million. David Gordon Green's $25-million comedy was projected to take in $12 to $16 million.  Neither “New Year’s Eve” nor “The Sitter” was liked by the critics, drawing rotten Tomatometer ratings of 6% and 22%, respectively.

Finally, after three consecutive weekends atop the box office, Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” was bumped to third place.  The blockbuster vampire romancer grossed an estimated $7.9 million this weekend and has taken in a staggering $259.5 million to date.

Disney’s “Muppets” brought up the fourth spot with an estimated $7.1 million in its third week in release, slipping a slim 36% from last week. The live-action “Muppet” musical-comedy has revived the franchise with a total of some $65.8 million.  The latest Muppet film is now the highest-grossing Muppet film of all-time, topping the $65.2 million generated by the original “Muppet” movie back in 1979.

Sony’s “Arthur Christmas” generated the best hold any of the top films in wide release this weekend as the Aardman Animation-produced family film was off a miniscule 11% in its third weekend in theaters. “Arthur” took in an estimated $6.6 million to place fifth and has grossed around $33.5 million to date. The international cume is around $57.5 million, bringing the worldwide total to $91 million so far.

Marking time in the sixth slot this weekend was Paramount’s “Hugo,” which continues to build audience awareness and expand, adding 768 theaters. Martin Scorsese's family adventure took in an estimated $6.1 million from 2,608 theaters and was off 19% from a week earlier, while moving the cume to date to about $33.5 million.

Fox Searchlight’s “The Descendants” continues a solid run at the boxoffice.  The distributor added 302 locations this weekend, taking the count to 876. The George Clooney-starrer had the highest per-theater average in the top 10 this weekend with $5,006, as the drama landed in the seventh slot with an estimated gross of $23.6 million, taking the total to around $23.6 million.  Fox Searchlight will keep the film in roughly in the same number of theaters for the next few weeks, and then will go wide on January 27.

There were some bright spots in limited release this weekend: Focus Features’ “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," starring Gary Oldman, debuted in four theaters and grossed an estimated $300,737 – averaging a stunning $75,184 per theater. Paramount’s “Young Adult” opened in eight locations and took in an estimated $320,000. The R-rated comedy-drama averaged a promising $40,000 per theater. And Fox Searchlight’s NC-17 rated “Shame” added 11 theaters, bringing the count to 21, grossing an estimated $276,068 this weekend, a per theater average of $13,143 and a total $774,154. Next Friday “Shame” expands to ten additional cities and 45-50 theaters.

Top Ten Weekend Box Office Chart
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6 Comments

  • penpusher | December 11, 2011 3:00 PMReply

    When you say that "Muppets" surpassed the original "Muppet Movie" you really are playing fast and loose with the info, not the least of which is the value. A 1979 dollar would be worth nearly 3 times as much as a 2011 dollar which would mean that in order for "Muppets" to actually catch "The Muppet Movie" total, it would need to make closer to 200 million. AND, of course the ticket price for the original film was somewhere in the 4-5 dollar range, v. the 10-11 dollar pricetag for today's films. I prefer the more accurate perspective.

  • Brian | December 12, 2011 4:19 PM

    You are correct Penpusher, in that more people attended the first Muppet film than this one, due to different ticket prices, inflation, etc. , from 1979. I did think about that as I was writing, but chose not to put that in the story as the ticket price/inflation aspect of the boxoffice usually goes without saying. For the most part, historical boxoffice comparisons are dollar to dollar because that is the agreed upon historical number of record. Interpretations of inflation, ticket prices, etc., vary greatly as everyone has different versions and numbers, so there is no agreement and comparisons get convoluted pretty quickly when you go down that road. Hence, you use the historically agreed upon measurement with the understanding that inflation, ticket prices, etc., come into play. But next time I may add a line about that for older films. Thx.

  • Teuta | December 11, 2011 2:38 PMReply

    James Belushi, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Common, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Hector Elizondo, Cary Elwes, Carla Gugino, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, John Lithgow, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Alyssa Milano, Larry Miller, Sarah Paulson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Yeardley Smith, Hilary Swank, Sofía Vergara.
    From the cast alone, ‘New Year’s Eve’ looked like it would make a billion dollars. Now it will probably end up like ‘The Big Year’.

  • willie | December 11, 2011 2:37 PMReply

    I've got a 55-inch flat screen in my basement, and I can stream almost anything from the libraries of Netflix and Vudu (don't forget Vudu), so why should I go to a theatre anymore? And how many millions are doing the same, or will be shortly? Anyway, I'd think twice about investing in any theatre chains if I were you. Just sayin'....

  • Keith | December 12, 2011 3:09 PM

    Willie,
    You are watching TV in your basement, even with a nice big screen, sound system, movies, popcorn, drinks, etc.....you are still watching TV. The theatrical film experience is different - you are out of the basement, house, etc., with others, experiencing a shared time with a date, friends, people on the street, etc. TV in the basement is great, and 55-inch is really nice, but it's still TV and always will be, no matter how big the screen is. Because people generally don't want to sit at home all the time, and they do want to get out and interact with others (well, most do anyway), the theater offers an entertainment experience you can't get at home. The invention of TV didn't kill film, though many said it would (but it did have a big impact), and the advent of video/DVD didn't kill it either (though many said it would), now I could be wrong, but i don't think bigger flat screen TVs are likely to kill the film experience either.

  • Goldman | December 11, 2011 2:05 PMReply

    New Year's Eve's just great. The story is terrific. It's just epic.

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