3 items from 2007
By keeping pace with 2006's solid finish internationally, 2007 appears to be a shoo-in for a record overseas year, with a double-digit gross increase looming. I Am Legend continued to hold on to the No. 1 spot during the weekend, grossing an estimated $46.1 million at about 3,000 screens in 25 markets.
The strong weekend boosted the totals for the Will Smith starrer to $117 million internationally and $311.6 million worldwide.
Legend was followed by No. 2 The Golden Compass, which maintained its torrid pace internationally with a weekend estimate of $34 million from 7,600 screens in 54 markets, good for an overseas cume of $187 million.
Distributor New Line said Compass had a huge bow in Australia -- an estimated $5 million over five days on 327 screens -- while Warner Bros. International touted Legend's No. 1 U.K. debut of an estimated $21.8 million (including previews) from 670 screens, claiming "almost half of the top five market share."
Newcomers for the stanza included 20th Century Fox International's Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, a sci-fi outing directed by brothers Colin and Greg Strause. It grossed an estimated $15.9 million from 1,784 screens in 20 markets, enough to place fifth overall for the weekend.
Requiem had an explosive bow in Germany (an estimated $4.8 million from 553 screens), while the results in Japan ($2.4 million from 392 sites) and Australia ($2.8 million from 181 locations) also were impressive. Fox said the Malaysia result -- $1.2 million from 125 screens -- was the studio's biggest ever in the market and the fourth-highest Malaysia opening from any studio. »
Those darn aliens and predators upset the boxoffice hierarchy established during the weekend before Christmas.
But while "AVP" flaunted its status as R-rated holiday counterprogramming with the ad line "No Peace on Earth", the day's other new arrivals struck a more hopeful, seasonal note.
The inspirational period drama "The Great Debaters", which MGM is releasing for the Weinstein Co., debuted in sixth place with $3.6 million but enjoyed a per-theater average that ranked just below the top wide releases.
In exclusive release, Warner Bros.' "The Bucket List", starring warhorses Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, chalked up $161,840 in just 16 theaters for a per-screen average of $10,115, while Sony Classics' release of the animated Iranian history lesson "Persepolis" captured $37,118 on seven screens for a per-screen average of $5,303.
After dipping on Monday as many theaters closed early for Christmas Eve, the overall boxoffice rebounded on Christmas Day. And with so many businesses making do with skeletal staffs through year's end, distributors looked forward to weekend-like business throughout the rest of the week.
Boxoffice weekends just don't come any bigger than this one.
Five wide openers boasting solid appeal in one or more audience demographics are set to unspool Friday. And one of those -- Disney's Nicolas Cage sequel National Treasure: Books of Secrets -- has "monster hit" written all over it.
Throw in DreamWorks/Paramount's Johnny Depp-toplined musical Sweeney Todd, Sony's music-bio spoof Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Warner Bros.' ladies-get-the-hankies romance P.S. I Love You and Universal's Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts starrer Charlie Wilson's War, and things could get bloody crazy -- or maybe just plain bloody, given the cutthroat competition for screens and moviegoers.
Oh, and by the way, a 50% hold for Warners' I Am Legend would give the Will Smith starrer a $38 million sophomore session.
"The marketplace is going to expand, but there's a limit as to how far it can expand," a top distributor said.
Now consider that three more films open wide on Christmas: Fox's action sequel Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, MGM/Weinstein Co.'sDenzel Washington drama The Great Debaters and the Sony-Revolution-Walden family fantasy "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep."
There's simply never been a more crowded Christmas session. Seven wide openers battled it out in 1994 and again in 2001, but eight is a first.
Small wonder that distributors are sputtering to guess what the boxoffice chart might look like once all the dust has settled.
" 'Charlie Wilson's War' could get clobbered," one boxoffice handicapper said.
" 'Sweeney Todd' could end up being this year's 'Rent, ' " was the similarly ungenerous assessment of another.
Walk Hard shows good audience awareness in prerelease tracking data, but its "first-choice (data) is just OK," another well-placed industry observer said. »
3 items from 2007
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