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Box Office Update 11/17-11/19: Happy Feet Dances by Bond

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The battle for the top spot went right down to the wire. A troupe of tap-dancing penguins waged a battle for box office supremacy with a reinvigorated James Bond franchise. Happy Feet narrowly beat out Casino Royale to reign supreme in this pre-holiday frame. The spread between the two films was a mere $700,000. Sure, sounds like a lot, but when the totals are north of $40 million, it proves to be much smaller.

I have seen both of these debuting films. Happy Feet turned out to be better than I was expecting. It has a good story, will plaster a smile on your face, and has an original look in a year overstuffed with lackluster CG films. It is a definite crowd pleaser and, judging by the reaction of those in attendance, will do quite well over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Bringing in a different audience, Casino Royale marks a new era for James Bond. Daniel Craig proves to be more than up to the task, delivering a dark and complex iteration, and is possibly the best since Sean Connery asked for a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. The stunts were big, the suspense palpable, and the campiness that had been taking over the series diminished. This is one of the smartest and well executed actioners of the year.

There was one other new entry to the top ten, an entry that will assuredly not be on the chart next week. After Dark's Horror Fest: 8 Films to Die For took a bow at 488 locations around the country. I was curious as to how this was going to be counted, it falls under the banner of a festival, it comprises 9 separate horror films. I guess they decided to lump all of them into a single film, a fact which helped boost it into the shallow end of the top ten pool. Hopefully, it will get some sort of DVD release. I like horror films, but was unable to make it to see this.

The rest of the field was pretty consistent in their decreased box office takes, all in the vicinity of a 50% drop. These drops were slightly larger than usual as last weekend included the Veteran's Day holiday, where many schools had Friday off. Among those returning films there were a couple of close battles, including Flushed Away and Stranger Than Fiction, and Saw III and Babel. Those two pairs could have just as easily gone in the opposite direction.

Three films dropped from the list this week: The Prestige (13), The Return (14), and A Good Year (15).

 

This Week

Last Week Title Wknd Gross Overall Week in release
1 N Happy Feet $41,533,432 $41,533,432 1
2 N

Casino Royale

$40,833,156 $40,833,156 1
3 3 Borat $14,602,874 $90,757,366 3
4 2 The Santa Clause: The Escape Clause $8,302,661 $51,704,119 3
5 4 Stranger Than Fiction $6,605,197 $22,905,344 2
6 3

Flushed Away

$6,596,962 $48,588,533 3
7 5 Saw III $2,916,062 $74,968,353 4
8 6 Babel $2,904,642 $12,016,104 4
9 7 The Departed $2,585,402 $113,841,430 7
10 N After Dark's Horror Fest: 8 Films to Die For $2,310,680 $2,310,680 1

Box Office Predictions Recap
Holy underestimation, Batman! I did well in positioning this week's finishers, but when it came to the grosses of the top pair, I was off, off by a lot. I didn't figure that the box office would see any of the big numbers until the holiday weekend hit. I guess everyone wanted to get a head start. I knew I was in for some trouble based on my own anecdotal evidence. As I chatted with my friends who work at the local cineplex, they had huge lines for both the penguins and for Bond, to the point where they were selling out shows.  This was something I did not expect, at least not to this level.

I will console myself with getting the top four right, and less than $10,000 from having the top six. The last four sort of fall apart, but I can live with it. I knew that Let's Go to Prison wasn't going to make a splash, especially when I had a private showing. I was surprised at the strength of the Horror Fest, and glad for it.

 

Actual

Prediction Title Wknd Gross Prediction
1 1 Happy Feet $41,533,432 $27 million
2 2 Casino Royale $40,833,156 $21 million
3 3 Borat $14,602,874 $17 million
4 4 Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause $8,302,661 $12 million
6 5

Flushed Away

$6,596,962

$10 million

5 6 Stranger than Fiction $6,605,197 $9 million
8 7 Babel $2,904,642 $4 million
9 8 The Departed $2,585,402 $3.75 million
13 9 The Prestige $1,949,969 $3.5 million
7 10 Saw III $2,916,062 $3 million

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