Sunday, December 18, 2005

Narnia Watch: The Verdict Is In

The prelim numbers are in for this weekend and--surprise!--King Kong outgrossed Narnia by almost $20 million during the Friday-to-Sunday period. (Note these are the studio projected numbers; my guess is that Kong drops by maybe $2 million in the final tally on Monday; Universal has probably pushed this number to get Kong over the $50 million mark just so they can run a big ad in Variety tomorrow.)

Anyway, as you'll remember, I was always skeptical about the notion that Kong was going to be a super-gigantic blockbuster--Titanic (or Gone with the Wind)-sized monsters simply cannot be foreseen. But, as our initial rough math showed, it was all but impossible for the second-week Narnia to outgross Kong on its opening weekend. Erosion rates for movies that open at 3,200+ theaters (and Narnia was up over 3,600) are notoriously steep. Narnia declined by 52.4 percent from its opening, leaving it in no position to challenge even a Kong which opened at the bottom of the range we predicted for it.

This was never even close.

Moving along, I want to point people toward the truly impressive per theater average for Brokeback Mountain--which is doing $109,485 per screen. That's huge. It's been 10 years since a live-action movie has done a per theater number like this. [see Update] It's very impressive and the people at Focus should be thrilled.

That said, I'm still skeptical that Brokeback will find a mainstream audience. Look at the other live-action movies at the top of our list of all-time highest-averages. You'll see Bulworth, Punch-Drunk Love, I Heart Huckabees and other films which were critical darlings but couldn't even cross the $30 million mark in total box office. The highest total gross of one of these high-average movies is Moulin Rouge!, with $57 million.

Anyway, it will be interesting to watch Brokeback's numbers in the coming weeks to see if it follows in the path of a medium-sized hit, such as Edward Scissorhands, or becomes a hot-house flower, such as Huckabees.

Update, 12/19/05: Galley Friend J.E. emails in to point out that the average I cited above for Brokeback Mountain, $109,485, is from last weekend, when the movie was only playing on five screens. This weekend it expanded to 64, and the average dropped to $34,188.


Anonymous said...

It will be neither a hothouse flower nor a medium sized hit. It will be the most popular movie ever.

Why? Because America loves cowboys, especially gay ones.

Anonymous said...

I am gobsmacked by your vile bigotry. Your refusal to accept that "Brokeback Mountain" is the greatest artistic achievement in history proves your submission to the dangerous theocon agenda. Is Ratzinger paying you to spread your evil slanders? All my friends in Provincetown and Dupont Circle are disgusted.

Anonymous said...

studio projected numbers

Sounds like exit polling. What do you think about those John Kerry?

Anonymous said...

Now what was the bet with HH, was it opening week?, week end?, or what? because it seems tha Narnia wiped out Kong on a day to day match up. Sorry I think ypu lose.

Anonymous said...

No, Hewitt loses, as he so often does. He wrote, "But I am betting on The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, and not just total box office, but even on the weekend when Kong opens."

Anonymous said...

But if there were a point spread, Narnia would have covered.

Anyway, Brokeback will be more popular than both combined. Tim McGraw scored a big hit with "The Cowboy in Me."

Americans love to get in touch with their inner cowboy, but even more than that they like to get in touch with their inner gay cowboy.

Who amongst us doesn't secretly wish to ride the open ranges of the west, do some rassling, and cuddle up next to some big cowboy stud (like that dreamy Heath Ledger) as the sun sets?

Anonymous said...

Can we PLEASE stop referring to Brokeback as a "gay cowboy" movie?!?

After all, they are SHEPHERDS, not cowboys!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey JVL, from the same BoxOfficeMojo that you cite:

It (King Kong) ranks as the fourth highest-grossing first weekend on record for a December release, behind the last two Lord of the Rings movies and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I still think King Kong will make a crap load of money; however, from this article it appears that Narnia made more on its opening weekend. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Did heath ledger star in an A&E version of Horatio Hornblower? If not, then he should have.

Anonymous said...

Re referring to Brokeback as a "gay cowboy" movie instead of a "gay shepherd" movie which would be more accurate.

America loves its cowboys, and really loves its gay cowboys. The nation on the whole, however, is indifferent to shepherds be they straight or gay.

So the Hollywood p.r. machine had to launch a campaign to rebrand these shepherds as cowboys.

That's how Hollywood works. So those patrons who pony up their 10 bucks to see gay cowboys will walk away disillusioned after they spend 131 minutes with gay shepherds instead.

Makes you want to puke, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

best regards, nice info
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Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it!