“Museum,” “Dreamgirls” stars of box office
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “Night at the Museum” was the No. 1 exhibit at the Christmas box office in North America, earning $42.2 million during the four days beginning Friday, distributor 20th Century Fox said Tuesday.
But “Dreamgirls” also was a star performer, with a melodic one-day gross of $8.7 million Monday as it entered its first day of national release, good enough for a No. 7 weekend rank.
Among the crowded field of year-end offerings, the December 20 release”Rocky Balboa” continued its successful underdog saga, pulling in a surprisingly young audience for a third-place finish with $17 million for the four-day period. And the Matt Damon spy drama “The Good Shepherd” enjoyed a solid opening Friday, capturing fourth place with $13.9 million.
Another new wide release, “We Are Marshall,” starring Matthew McConaughey, wasn’t as successful. The inspirational sports story earned $8.6 million.
Meanwhile, holdovers from the previous weekend held on well. Incumbent champ “The Pursuit of Happyness” finished in second place, generating an estimated $23.1 million to hit $61.4 million in its sophomore frame. And despite a less-than-stellar debut, “Charlotte’s Web” held strong in its second weekend, picking up $9.6 million for a two-week total of $28.4 million, good for the fifth spot overall.
“Eragon” suffered the steepest fall from the previous weekend — 70% — likely due to competition for the family audience with “Night at the Museum.” The dragon fantasy’s $9.3 million weekend took the total to $39.8 million.
The only other new wide release was “Black Christmas,” an R-rated horror film starring Michelle Trachtenberg, which bowed on Christmas Day with just $3.3 million, No. 15 for the weekend.
“Museum,” starring Ben Stiller, was the general-audience picture of the weekend. From director Shawn Levy, the PG film set at New York’s Museum of Natural History scored with both families and adults without children.
“It was the all-purpose movie that resonated with all types of audiences,” said Bruce Snyder, Fox’s president of distribution. “Museum” scored an A- rating from exit pollster CinemaScore, with audiences evenly split between men and women. Its Imax runs contributed positively to the weekend’s gross, with the 2-D display earning $2.3 million from 72 giant-screen theaters.
“Rocky,” the sixth installment of the boxing franchise starring sexagenarian Sylvester Stallone, was far from a sure thing in the eyes of most industry observers. But audiences have welcomed back the former champ since its midweek opening. Surprisingly, according to distributor MGM, 70% of those moviegoers were younger than 34. With a total of $26.7 million, the PG film is well on its way to earning back its negative cost of $24 million, and MGM hopes that the average age of moviegoers will trend upward in coming weeks as old-time “Rocky” fans come out for the picture.
“Our hope is that what we have here is a new generation of ‘Rocky’ fans,” said Clark Woods, MGM’s president of distribution. “These are individuals who didn’t see the originals in the movie theater. We’re hoping they go home and tell their fathers, the original ‘Rocky’ fans, that they really liked the movie, and they come out in the following weeks.” The film earned a B+ according to CinemaScore.
Although “Dreamgirls” bowed December 15 to sold-out shows in three theaters, its Monday number of $8.7 million from an additional 849 theaters represented the third-best Christmas Day opener of all time, behind only “Ali” (2001) and “Catch Me If You Can” (2002).
The Bill Condon-directed film featuring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles and Eddie Murphy also generated the best single day ever for a musical. Adding in its sold-out roadshow from the previous weekend, when tickets were priced at $25, the PG-13 film has earned $9.6 million.
Buoyed by ecstatic reviews, particularly for newcomer Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls” is poised to dominate sales into January. Paramount intends to expand the film to about 2,000 theaters January 12 for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.
“The exits were fantastic from a quantitative standpoint, and on an anecdotal basis, we’re hearing about applause inside the movie theaters,” said Rob Moore, Paramount’s president of worldwide marketing and distribution. “It’s playing amazingly well.”
Meanwhile, Universal bowed “Shepherd” in 2,215 theaters. The R-rated, cerebral spy drama from director Robert De Niro picked up an estimated $13.9 million for the four-day frame. With a cast featuring Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin and others, the film opened to mixed reviews and a B- grade from CinemaScore. Still, the studio was happy with its opening, especially since it was not a family-friendly film that bowed during the ultimate family-friendly holiday.
“Marshall,” on the other hand, generated more positive exit polls, with CinemaScore giving it an A-. Warner Bros. hoped the PG film, revolving around the efforts to rebuild the Marshall College football program after a devastating 1970 plane crash, would pick up some yardage during subsequent frames.
Said Jeff Goldstein, Warners’ executive vp and general sales manager of domestic distribution: “People who see this movie really like it and recommend it. I think we generated the highest percentage increase from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. It’s just that the market is really crowded, and we recognized that we had to get past Christmas Day to see the true playability of the film.”
In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics unveiled “Curse of the Golden Flower,” directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li, in 60 theaters. The sumptuous Chinese-language film grossed $712,760 for a per-screen average of $11,879.
Universal bowed “Children of Men” in 16 theaters. The Alfonso Cuaron-directed film grossed $180,000 for a per-theater average of $11,250. The film, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore, was almost universally well reviewed and will expand Friday.
Warners bowed “Letters From Iwo Jima,” the Clint Eastwood-directed companion piece to his “Flags of Our Fathers,” in five theaters. The R-rated Japanese-language film depicting Japan’s side of the Battle of Iwo Jima also scored well with critics. It opened to $122,605 for a per-screen average of $24,521.
Warner Independent Pictures opened the Ed Norton starrer “The Painted Veil” in four theaters. Directed by John Curran, “Veil” opened strong to an estimated $71,813 for the four-day frame. The PG-13 film boasted a per-screen of $17,953.
“Museum,” “Dreamgirls” stars of box office