The following are the winners and losers at the weekend box office for the week ending December 11, 2011:
WINNER: “The Descendants”
JURY’S OUT: “Arthur Christmas,” “Hugo”
LOSERS: “New Year’s Eve,” “The Sitter”
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE TOP FIVE
#1. NEW YEAR’S EVE
Looks like the movie Gods have finally answered my prayers! Despite opening at number one and starring almost every romantic comedy staple in Hollywood, the star-studded romantic comedy “New Year’s Eve” was rejected by moviegoers – opening with a paltry $13.7 million – which was significantly below the $20 million opening its studio Warner Brothers had predicted and catastrophically below its quasi-prequel “Valentine’s Day” which opened last February with an amazing $56.3 million. While it’s hard to say why audiences avoided the movie, one theory is that moviegoers were simply turned off by “Valentine’s Day” and weren’t interested in returning to a movie with a similar disjointed structure. Reviews for the comedy were overwhelmingly negative with review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes scoring it a putrid 5% approval rating. With the amount of stars on the roll-call including Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, Jessica Beil and Hilary Swank, you can bet that this sucker won’t be making back its budget anytime this century. While audiences were more forgiving, grading it a “B+” on Cinemascore, the damage has already been done since it’s going to be facing a glut of blockbusters over the next two weekends. It looks like we won’t have to dread an “April Fool’s Day” movie.
#2. THE SITTER
Also failing to find an audience was Jonah Hill’s latest comedy “The Sitter” which debuted in second place with a disappointing $10 million gross. The R-rated rip-off of the 80s comedy “Adventures in Babysitting” was savaged by critics and received a horrible “C+” average from moviegoers polled by Cinemascore. It was the lowest opening of Jonah Hill’s career as a leading man although to be fair, it’s his first as a solo leading man. The only saving grace of this film was that it didn’t cost much to produce ($20 million production budget).
#3. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1
After topping the box office for three straight weekends, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” dropped two spots to number three for a $7.9 million weekend tally. The vampire romance has now grossed a colossal $259.5 million which was enough to cross “The Hangover Part 2” as the year’s third-highest grossing film (after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”). My Review.
#4. THE MUPPETS
“The Muppets” also dropped down two spots for a weekend total of $7.1 million. The acclaimed family film has taken in an estimated $65.8 million so far and stands to finish its run with a grand total in the vicinity of $85 million. My Review.
#5. ARTHUR CHRISTMAS
Holiday-themed animated film “Arthur Christmas” eased by only 11% in its third weekend, picking up $6.6 million to take its total up to $33 million. Though its $100 million budget seems out of range, the film still has the benefit of the Christmas holiday awaiting it before it rides off into the sunset. Next week’s debut of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” will also be a big test of its durability during the season so it remains to be seen whether this well-liked toon can make it past $60 million.
- Thanks to the awful debuts of both “New Year’s Eve” and “The Sitter,” the combined grosses of the top 10 films came under $75 million which makes it the worst attended weekend at the box office since September 2008. It seems like North American moviegoers are not at all interested in giving this season.
- With the failure of “New Year’s Eve,” it is come to my belief that audiences have finally wised up that more stars doesn’t equate quality. Good for them!
- “The Sitter” becomes the second straight comedy directed by David Gordon Green to tank at the box office this year after the unfunny “Your Highness” got burnt in March.
- “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” keeps following in the tracks of its predecessor “New Moon” and should finish its run with roughly $290 million. My Review.
- With this weekend’s grosses, “The Muppets” out-grossed “The Muppet Movie” to become the highest grossing film in the franchise. Of course, attendance levels for the original film were much higher. My Review.
- With Christmas just around the corner, “Arthur Christmas” received a nice spike in business and although it faces big family movies like the third “Alvin and the Chipmunks” flick and Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” in the upcoming weeks, its holiday theme should allow it to hold steady in the top 10.
- Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” also held decently, despite dropping 20%. Over the weekend, the acclaimed film picked up major mentions from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and the Boston Society of Film Critics awards. My Review.
- Also doing well with the critics was Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” which was named Best Film of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics. It also had the best holdover in the top ten, dropping only 7% to take its total up in medium-release $23 million. If the awards keep coming, the touching drama could even find its way to the $71 million that Payne’s previous film “Sideways” grossed in 2004 after it was shortlisted by many award groups. My Review.
NEXT WEEK’S RELEASES:
It’s going to be a crowded one at the multiplexes as three of December’s biggest blockbusters hit multiplexes.
- Leading the way will be the return of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” Expect the sequel to have a healthy opening on its way to performing strongly throughout the holidays.
- Tom Cruise reprises his most popular role as Ethan Hunt for the fourth time in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” which isn’t going wide this weekend but opening on 1,000 IMAX screens. The action picture will start playing at all theaters the following weekend.
- Fox releases the third installment in the low-brow but ridiculously popular “Alvin and the Chipmunks” series.
- Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody team with Charlize Theron to bring a dark and twisted comedy about a woman who refuses to grow up in “Young Adult” (My Review).
- Steve McQueen’s NC-17 rated “Shame” which just won star Michael Fassbender a Best Actor award from the Los Angeles Film Critics will also make its South Florida debut this weekend, hoping to capitalize on the very positive buzz it’s been receiving.
WEEKEND TOP 10
- New Year’s Eve – $13.7 million (NEW)
- The Sitter – $10 million (NEW)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 – $7.9 million ($259.5 m) (My Review)
- The Muppets – $7 million ($65.8 m) (My Review)
- Arthur Christmas – $6.6 million ($33.4 m)
- Hugo – $6.1 million ($33.4 m) (My Review)
- The Descendants – $4.8 Million ($23.6 m) (My Review)
- Happy Feet 2 – $3.7 million ($56.8 m)
- Jack and Jill – $3.2 million ($68.6 m) (My Review)
- Immortals – $2.4 million ($79.8 m)