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David Poland

By David Poland

Boring Holiday Box Office

As I commented on in my ‘Twas The Box Office Night Before Christmas, there is something oddly flat about this season’s box office.  No one would complain about a near $250 million haul for The Incredibles… except for Pixar and Disney, who immediately moved Cars into a summer slot where less is more and more is not less.

Meet The Fockers is looking at a 3-day of between $25 million and $35 million, probably right around the middle.  That puts them in the Top Ten 3-day openings for December.  But given that the film was tracking through the roof compared to anything else this month, even a $55 million 5-day is not an out-of-the-park home run.  The 5-day number is about 25% better than last year’s Cheaper By The Dozen, but that film learned what Universal seems to have missed by giving Fockers such a late date… there is almost always a huge January drop-off.

Isn’t it ironic that The Polar Express, the film that we all made fun of, me included, for going out five days after The Incredibles, is turning out to have made the smartest play, giving itself two whole months of playability even in the face of presumed tough opposition?  Of course, I would still argue that a couple of weeks in IMAX 3-D only would have changed the critical view of the film so dramatically that it could have added another $30 million to the final domestic total, if not more.

The issue of having time to play is not only a Fockers problem, but one for Lemony Snicket, which is holding well but will have some trouble holding when kids go back to school and The Phantom of the Opera, which has left too much of its fortunes in the hands of the critics and bi-coastals who the studio knew would hate the film in high percentages. 

Of course, Universal will be thrilled by their opening.  But will all the must-see of the film, one has to wonder today, will it pass the original’s $166 million domestic draw?  The really fascinating question will be whether the iconic Barbra Streisand will make the international number even stronger?  (The first film played almost identically internationally and domestically, which is a big win for a verbal, sociological comedy.)

12 Responses to “Boring Holiday Box Office”

  1. Blue Stealer says:

    Phantom was going to be shot down by critics no matter what. They hate Joel.

  2. joe says:

    I haven´t seen Phantom, but it can´t be that bad..can it?
    Poor Joel I think he thought his luck was gonna change after this one… But I don´t see that coming after what I´ve heard about his movie.

  3. Dan R% says:

    Phantom was going to be shot down because it was a boring film. Stylistically there’s not much to complain about, at least as far as the look of the film is concerned. As for the music and the singing – ho hum. It won’t escape this weekend with much love, and maybe Emmy Rossum will make it to the GGs and Oscars alive. But even that’s doubtful.

  4. Brett says:

    The problem with Joel is that he makes bad movies, it’s not that the critics are out to get him.

  5. Bill says:

    Schumacher realized early on that he did not have enough substance in the broadway play version of The Phantom of the Opera to turn it into a 2 hour+ movie. Oh, there were the show’s familiar tunes (leaving ALW to replicate the tunes and score), but the show if you have seen it is pretty much “smoke and mirrors” between the songs. So, what did Schumacher do? He expanded the structure into three acts and added the sumptuous C/L/S – costume, lighting, and sets (most money spent since Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra), plus filtered candlelight mixed with COLORFUL cinematography to make Phantom more of a cinematic wonder versus a sophisticated drama. Face it. It’s a spectacle first, story second. And a simple one at that. I LOVED IT!

  6. Mark says:

    This is the kind of movie people are either going to love or hate. With all money the show has made over the years and the popularity it has, it should have no problem being a hit.

  7. PeppersDad says:

    Mark –
    I actually agree with you here. I do have a couple of caveats, though.
    1. Evita
    2, A Chorus Line

  8. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Universal’s estimates for “Fockers” are $44.6+M Fri-Sat-Sun, $68.5+M since its Wednesday opening.
    Warner Bros. is not bothered by what the Film Snobs say on “The Phantom of the Opera”. WB’s distribution chief told Variety that “Phantom” opened in theaters where “Moulin Rouge” and “Chicago” did best. Those theaters include the Ziegfeld in NYC, the Clairidge in Montclair NJ and the UA East Hampton on Long Island NY.
    As for the Film Snobs’ favorite “The Aviator”: Outgrossed by “Fat Albert”, out-averaged by “Phantom”. Most upmarket theaters that would have played “Aviator” got “The Life Aquatic” and/or “Phantom” instead.
    Of course this is the one time of year when weekend figures don’t really come into play. Every day from Xmas to New Year’s will be (weather permitting) like a Saturday.
    BTW, did anyone read the AP roundup? The hack writer thought “The Aviator” and “Phantom” were limited releases. “Aviator” expanded wide (~1800 theaters) and “Phantom” opened semi-wide (~625).

  9. Barry says:

    Nothing really did great this w/e, even fockers was a little disappointing. Phantom is basically dead in the water. Theres 12 days left for nominations and its already seen as a disappointment critically and commercially. Same goes for Aquatic. Do some of you guys have financial ties to this film? or are you really that stupid?

  10. bicycle bob says:

    fockers. talk about phoning in a movie. wow.

  11. Katherine says:

    Phantom is not dead in the water (and 622 IS considered a limited release). It had a high per theatre average, and had a high approval rating from audiences (97%). As it should. In no way does it deserve the flak that it’s getting. In fact I’d go so far to call it one of the best pictures of the year. I implore you not to listen to reviews. IMHO they are waaaayy far off on this one. And I usually agree with them.
    I think Phantom just might surprise everyone. I certainly hope so.

  12. Sammy the Fibs says:

    David seems you were right about Babs “iconic” status overseas. Fockers did $3.8 million in Oz last weekend.
    Of course if she was really iconic, then her last movie would have grossed more than the dismal $15 million outside the U.S.

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