Box Office Barometer 12-19-11: What’s Going On?

Blah, blah, blah, the box office is down again this week.  Surprisingly, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked are both way down from their previously installments (-$22 million and -$25 million, respectively).  Normally, the next step in any analysis would be about the state of the movie industry and how prequels, sequels and reboots are the bane of our collective existances.  But(!), out of the Top 10 movies of 2011, 7 are sequels, 2 are based on comic books, and one is a prequel.  Here’s the list:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381 million
  2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon $352.4 million
  3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $266.4 million
  4. The Hangover Part II $254.5 million
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $241.1 million
  6. Fast Five $209.8 million
  7. Cars 2 $191.5 million
  8. Thor $181 million
  9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes $176.7 million
  10. Captain America: The First Avenger $176.7 million

Once you expand to the Top 20, there are only five titles that can be considered “original”: Bridesmaids, Rio, Super 8, Rango, and Horrible Bosses.  Even then, each movie can be considered “derivative”: a female Judd Apatow movie, a musical Madagascar, every Steven Spielberg film wrapped into an enigma one, and an animated Chinatown.  (Does anyone have a comparison for Horrible Bosses?)  This happens, because as writers and producers pitch movies, they have to sell studios on their profitability, and the only way to predict that is to compare it to a previously and similar successful movie.  Nobody is going to pitch a movie claiming that his or her pet project “is the next Adventures of Pluto Nash.”  That movie lost almost $93 million.  That’s why sequels are so readily available: there is more of a direct connection in a sequel’s profitability.

Now that we’ve been mired in this financial slump since Harry Potter came out (with the exception of a few like Twilight), we are at a crossroads.  Hopefully, movie studios will decide to go for broke and take more risks to find something that works.  This the the cycle that occurs within network TV .  Whenever a network is mired in last place, they take some chances and shows like Hill Street Blues or Lost airs.  They put out something new that propels them to the top, but then holds steady until they start to slip.  Since the formerly tried and true movie formula is no longer working, let’s see something “different.”

1. Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows (Warner Bros) NEW [3,703 Theaters]
Friday $14.7M, Saturday $15M, Weekend $40M

2. Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox) NEW [3,723 Theaters]
Friday $6.8M, Saturday $9.9M, Weekend $23.5M

3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 3D (Paramount) NEW [425 Theaters]
Friday $4.7M, Saturday $4.8M, Weekend $13M, Cume $13.6M

4. New Year’s Eve (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,505 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $2.9M, Weekend $7.4M (-42%), Cume $24.8M)

5. The Sitter (Fox) Week 2 [2,752 Theater]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $1.8M, Weekend $4.4M (-55%), Cume $17.7M

6. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit) Week 5 [2,958 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday, Weekend $4.3M, Cume $266.4M

Young Adult (Paramount) Week 2 [986 theaters]
Friday $1.1K, Saturday, Weekend $3.6M, Cume $4M

8. Hugo 3D (Paramount) Week 4 [2,532 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday, Weekend $3.6M, Cume $39M

9. Arthur Christmas (Aardman/Sony) Week 5 [2,929 Theaters]
Friday $840K, Saturday $1.5M, Weekend $3.5M, Cume $38.5M

10. The Muppets (Disney) Week 4 [2,808 Theaters]
Friday $903K, Saturday, Weekend $3.4M, Cume $70.9M

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