Sunday, December 18, 2011

Some Christmas Musing: How well will all the openers co-exist in the crowded holiday frame?

When looking at the schedule, many would wonder why there are so many new movies crammed into the Christmas week, but in fact, due to the unique nature of the Christmas/New Year holiday, where every day of the two-week period - except for Christmas Eve - is a strong day at the box office, it is not uncommon to see a high number of new releases. Six years ago, the last time Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, we saw 8 new wide releases in total, with 6 openers and 2 others expanded to the status. The table below shows some numbers from that frame.

Movie (Day of the Week It Opened)Opening DayOpening WeekendOD-to-OW MultiplierFri-to-Sat ChangeSun-to-Mon Change
Fun with Dick and Jane (Wed)$3.76m$21.53m5.73-52.5%+9%
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (Wed)$2.55m$15.34m6.02-49.7%+74.9%
Memoirs of a Geisha (went wide on Friday)$2.65m$10.17m3.84-44.2%+30.3%
The Ringer (Fri)$2.38m$7.70m3.24-72.3%+19.8%
Munich (Fri)$1.37m$6.04m4.41-21.2%+10.8%
Rumor Has It (Sun)$3.47m$7.52m2.17N/A+16.4%
Wolf Creek (Sun)$2.81m$4.91m1.75N/A-25.1%
The Producers (went wide on Sun)$1.62m$3.30m2.04+23.7%+7.8%

Note: For pre-Christmas openers such as Fun with Dick and Jane, the opening weekend refers to Friday-to-Monday, while for Christmas Day openers, the opening weekend refers to Sunday + Monday.

The basic pattern for this week: mid-week will be strong as schools are off for winter break, and holdovers who have been in theaters for at least a week will see good week-to-week increases; Friday will be stronger; Saturday, or Christmas Eve, will be the weakest day by far, as many theaters will be closed for the night altogether, and the overall business will drop around 45% from Friday; Sunday, or Christmas Day, will see a surge to become one of the top 3 strongest box office days of the winter holiday; then finally Monday will see another jump across the board (only a few films will see decline that day) to claim the title of the busiest box office day of the holiday. Family films will experience especially superb increases to the level of 65%+, and a couple may see 100%+ jumps as Wallace & Gromit and Dreamer achieved in 2005.

So let's take a look at this week's slate and see if we could give some projections on where they could land. Three films will go wide on Wednesday: Mission: Impossible 4, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Adventures of Tintin. Mission: Impossible 4 is a unique case in that Paramount decided to release its IMAX version earlier to generate good buzz and word-of-mouth, and I would say in that they succeeded tremendously. A 58% Friday-to-Saturday increase without midnight counted is simply terrific. Among all the Wednesday releases on Christmas week, Alvin & Chipmunks 2 grossed the most on opening day with $18.8m, but that was helped by Christmas Eve falling on the next day. Then we have Little Fockers at $7.1m and Rocky Balboa at $6.2m. M:I4 should beat both without problem, especially when it is getting $4m a day from IMAX screens alone. I see at least $10m for its opening day (feel $12m is about right), and a 5+ OD-to-OW multiplier would give it $50m+ for the 4-day weekend, with $60m a good possibility.

For Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I would use Fincher's last big December effort, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as a comparison. Benjamin Button grossed $11.9m on its opening day; however, that's Christmas Day. The source material could make Dragon Tattoo more frontloaded, but I don't see it beating the figure on a Wednesday, not when it's rated R while Benjamin Button is PG-13. Another film to compare would be True Grit, also a pre-Christmas Wednesday release from renowned directors. It opened to $5.5m, a number Dragon Tattoo should beat given the expected upfront demand. So a $7-8m start feels reasonable, and that would translate to a 4-day weekend of $35-40m.

The Adventures of Tintin should have the best OD-to-OW multiplier among the Wednesday openers; unfortunately, it is also looking at the lowest opening day of the three. Beating Cheaper by the Dozen 2 should not be an issue, but $5m is as high as I see it getting on the first day.  A 6.0 multiplier puts the Friday-to-Monday gross at $25-30m.

The PG rating means good multiplier for We Bought a Zoo. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, for example, had a 3.93 Friday-to-OW multiplier. $5m opening day seems reasonable for it as well, putting its 4-day weekend in the neighborhood of $20m.

Although Muich opened on Friday while War Horse is opening on Sunday, the former could still be used as a reference for the latter. Munich had a $6,755 PTA in 532 theaters for the Sunday-to-Monday portion. With much more locations, I don't see War Horse matching it, although something as low as what Rumor Has It received ($2,669 PTA in 2,815 theaters) is equally unlikely.  Look for a low $4K PTA and $10m opening for the first two days.

Wolf Creek is definitely closest comparison to The Darkest Hour, as it will be one of the rare movies to drop on Monday. With little marketing push and stronger competition for males elsewhere, I don't see it matching Wolf Creek's opening day. A $3-4m two-day start is most likely.

No comments:

Post a Comment