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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

North American box office: audiences say no to ‘Yes Man’

Just a quick look at last weekend’s number as we head into the long holiday stretch, which will, in effect, be one long “weekend” starting tomorrow, Christmas Day, and running through Sunday, January 4:

1. Yes Man: $18.2 million (NEW)
2. Seven Pounds: $14.9 million (NEW)
3. The Tale of Despereaux: $10 million (NEW)
4. The Day the Earth Stood Still: $9.9 million (2nd week; drops 68%)
5. Four Christmases: $7.7 million (4th week; drops 41%)

actual numbers, not estimates
As last weekend was dawning, box office watchers contemplated the clash of Will Smith and Jim Carrey, two of the bigger box office draws of recent years, and wondered what it would mean for business at the multiplex. I’m not sure anyone figured it would mean one of the slowest pre-Christmas weekends in years. The numbers for the top three movies, all new openers, are pretty pathetic for this time of year, and I don’t think we can blame the lousy weather across most of the country, as Hollywood is doing, or audiences going all tightwad as we tumble toward Great Depression II.

Because the awards contenders continued to pack in the audiences this weekend, earning per-screen averages that put this wide releases to shame:

The Wrestler: $50,679 (on each of 4 screens)
Gran Torino: $24,643 (19 screens)
Doubt: $17,460 (39 screens)
The Reader: $11,599 (8 screens)
Frost/Nixon: $9,694 (39 screens)

That means The Wrestler did, on a comparative scale, business that was ten times that of Will Smith and Jim Carrey.

This week and next will tell the tale. Will we see a typically busy holiday season at the multiplex — especially with five new wide releases opening on Christmas Day (Valkyrie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Spirit, Bedtime Stories, and Marley & Me) plus Doubt going wide — or will everyone stay home and watch their The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! DVDs? We may know the shape of the movie biz to come over the next year or two by the time the holiday winds down on Monday, January 5.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]



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  • Real Stats Wiz

    Wow, one of the most idiotic comparisons, a limited release movie did 10 times better per screen as a wide release movie. The author must be an unappreciated genius.
    Just so you know, weather and economy do not affect attendance for limited releases and art movies.
    Next we should expect a thorough, with numbers in hand, insightful comparison of apples and oranges from this author – maybe the reader will finally learn which is better.

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