News

'Happy Feet,' 'Casino' Repeat, 'Nativity' Meek

by Brandon Gray
A scene from Happy Feet
December 4, 2006

Solid in their third weekends, Happy Feet and Casino Royale, the season's most broadly appealing pictures, topped the box office again and contributed to a seven percent increase over the same frame last year.

Despite steep drop-offs, post-Thanksgiving is almost invariably led by a holdover as Hollywood rarely opens promising movies on the relatively slow weekend. This year, though, saw the super-wide launch of The Nativity Story, but the birth of Christ proved far less popular than the death of Christ.

The Nativity Story bore $7.8 million at 3,183 theaters, crumbs compared to The Passion of Christ's $83.8 million—not that it was ever expected to replicate that unique phenomenon. New Line Cinema's $35 million re-telling of the Biblical yarn, positioned for the Christmas holiday like The Passion was for Lent and Easter, was Hollywood's first explicitly Christian movie to come in the wake of The Passion, but performed more in line with the independent Christian pictures, like One Night with the King. Against a raft of Nativity displays and festive secular Christmas fare, The Nativity Story lacked the oomph to be a theatrical must.

Moviegoers kept feeling Happy Feet to the tune of $17.5 million, down 53 percent. The drop was on the low end for a family movie after Thanksgiving, and the total stands at $121.5 million in 17 days.

Casino Royale collected $15.1 million for $115.9 million in 17 days, and it matched GoldenEye's third weekend drop of 51 percent and held better than The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day among the previous Thanksgiving-oriented James Bond pictures. In terms of attendance, Casino still trails the last three Bonds, though it is gaining on them and continues to track ahead of GoldenEye, which as the previous franchise reboot is the most apt comparison for Casino.

Deja Vu repeated in third place, generating $10.9 million. The time travel thriller was off 47 percent, a decent hold, for $44 million in 10 days.

The weekend's other new wide releases, Turistas and National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, were negligible. Turistas had a premise like Hostel and many other recent horror movies but a fraction of the audience, attracting a mere $3.6 million at 1,570 locations. Distributor 20th Century Fox acquired Turistas for $4 million and positioned it as the first picture from its new youth label, Fox Atomic.

Kal Penn in Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj
The third ribald comedy in a row to tank after Let's Go to Prison and Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj mustered a limp $2.3 million at 1,979 venues, or less than a third of the first Van Wilder. In addition to losing the title character, the sequel moved the proceedings across the pond (to England), an angle that bankrupt franchises often take, including recent titles Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. MGM served as the distributor for the Bauer Martinez production.

Meanwhile, sneak previews were conducted for two of next weekend's releases, The Holiday and Blood Diamond. Replacing 799 showings of Stranger Than Fiction on Saturday, The Holiday played at 75 percent capacity, according to distributor Sony. Warner Bros. reported 65 percent capacity for Blood Diamond at 705 sites.

RELATED ARTICLES
• 12/5/05 - Post-Thanksgiving: 'Aeon Flux' Flounders
• 1/30/05 - 'Passion,' 'Fahrenheit' Tops in 2004
• 12/6/04 - Post-Thanksgiving: 'National Treasure,' 'Polar Express' Measure Up

RELATED CHARTS
Weekend Box Office Results
Christian Movies

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Dec. 3 and was revised on Monday, Dec. 4 with actual grosses.



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