Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Dec 11 - 13)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Princess and the Frog24.0$7,000 average
2. The Blind Side12.6-37%
3. Invictus10.5$4,940 average
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon6.5-58%
5. A Christmas Carol6.0-23%
6. Brothers4.5-53%
7. Old Dogs3.9-43%
8. 20123.4-50%
9. Armored2.9-55%
10. Ninja Assassin2.4-52%

The Princess and the Frog has grossed $2.8m total in 14 days while being in just two theaters. It is no question a terrific feat, but we need to keep in mind that such phenomenon is not uncommon for a Disney release (see chart). It does not tell us how the film may perform when expanding beyond Disney's exclusive El Capitan theater. If we look at the other films on that all-time per-theater-average chart, we would see Hercules made $21.5m when expanded to 2,621 theaters, Pocahontas made $29.5m in 2,569, and Brother Bear, released outside the summer, got $19.4m in 3,030. Expect somewhere in between those numbers for The Princess and the Frog. Mid-$20m might not appear that impressive at first, but such a number is in fact very good for a traditional 2D feature, and given this is December, it could easily make to $140m total with that result.

By comparison, The other wide opener Invictus is a more difficult film to gauge. On one hand, Clint Eastwood just had his biggest financial success at the beginning of this year when Gran Torino grossed $29.5m when expanded nationwide before enjoying a terrific leggy run to finish with $148m total. Adding the star power of Freeman and Damon, along with Warner Bros' efficient marketing, Invictus appears to have the right ingredients for at least a high-teen opening. Nonetheless, on the other hand, December-released, adult-oriented films with Oscar aspiration are not going for any big opening numbers, but rather the legs. A multiplier over 6 could be expected for such movie, but the initial return tends to be depressed. As an example, The Blood Diamond, even with DiCaprio starring, director Edward Zwick coming off the success of The Last Samurai, and strong poll numbers at Box Office Mojo, opened to a meek $8.6m in 2006, which would adjust to $10m today. Invictus also has to confront the competition of the red-hot The Blind Side, so witnessing an opening in the low-teen instead would not be a surprise either.

Examining the equivalent frames from the past three years, we see that the holdovers generally had a lower Friday increase than the previous week, leading to a harsher weekend decline when comparing to the midweek numbers. On average, the weekend hold had been 7 percentage points worse than the preceding Wednesday-to-Wednesday hold. However, there is one factor to pay attention: snowstorm. The widespread snowstorm caused lower-than-usual Friday jump last week and has continued to depress the box office since. If the weather improves, we could see some better recoveries this time, although people could just as easily decide to wait further until the holiday.

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