This Week in Box Office History
TWBOH takes a look at the last 30 years of top grossing movies. Sifting through the celluloid, we review audience preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history. There’s little movement away from the continuing trend-lines of the past two weeks. Kids and young adult movies are sucking up all the oxygen in the theaters, and a handful of thrillers out this week will likely do little to dislodge them.
The Trends: November 28th – December 1st
Nothing new on the Homefront (jokes, people) here, as The Hunger Games continued to dominate. Young adult franchises have been all the rage at the box office this week, with seven number one movies featuring wizards or sparkly vampires. Kids movies continue to do a respectable number, with Disney raking in a lion’s share of the profits, even with the live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians in 1996.
Last week we saw the emergence of Holiday movies, most notably live-action fare that included adaptations of Dr. Seuss properties. The Home Alone series continues to chug along at the top spots in the early 90’s, and an actual holiday hit featuring Vince Vaughn makes the chart with 2008’s Four Christmases. What a difference 5 years makes, eh Vince?
The only blips on the radar this week come from an inexplicable string of action movies in the mid 80’s, courtesy of Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris. Nothing like watching steely-eyed men pummel each other to get into the holiday spirit. Robin Williams also mounted a mini surge with Mrs. Doubtfire and Flubber in the 90’s, more notable for being non-holiday themed comedies than for being any good. Seriously, Eddie Murphy had combined both a fat suit and a Nutty Professor remake in 1996…the year before Flubber. How hot did they think this property was? How desperate were comedians for a hit?
The Week That Was: Results
The trends stayed locked in place this week, as did my average for predictions: The Hunger Games 2 and Frozen placed in the top two spots, earning me two hits, while Thor held off Homefront, denying me a clean sweep. Thanks a lot for that, Thor.
This year seems to be feast and famine in Hollywood, as mega hits have been incredibly profitable and duds have been dreadful. Anything not a proven franchise has had little traction with viewers. While I do applaud audiences for rejecting dreck like Free Birds and Delivery Man, as we hop into the Oscar season, I hope some of the interesting thrillers and drama’s slated for release find a niche with by-the-number hits like Hunger Games and The Hobbit likely to take most of the money.
The Week That Will Be: Predictions
#1: Frozen. I can see this movie in the leap frogging The Hunger Games this week, as Disney and Pixar have pretty decent staying power. Wreck-It-Ralph and Monster University were strong earners even a month after their release, as was Brave, which had a very strong shelf-life. If Catching Fire thaws out, and Frozen manages a gentle decline, we can expect a swap of positions from last week’s winners.
#2: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire. This is likely the end of the line for The Hunger Games in terms of box office dominance. Films of this ilk tend to cool off rapidly after exploding on opening weekend, as both the final installments of the Potter and Twilight franchises illustrated by nosediving around the 3rd week. That being said, a 50% fall-off for this movie is still a metric ton of cash, so I see it sticking around until The Hobbit burgles all of its precious viewers.
#3: Out of the Furnace. The dreaded 3 slot. Lately this spot has been a nightmare, trying to figure out which movie is going to drag itself over the finish line for the bronze after the goliaths have taken all of the money in the top 2 places. Two movies are seeing wide release this week that could sneak into a third place finish: Out of the Furnace and The Last Days on Mars. I’m going to pick Christian Bale to open strong in the neighborhood of 20 million with his new thriller. It’s already delighting critics and making award talk.
As an interesting aside, I wonder if the decision to allow streaming for The Last Days on Mars prior to wide release will eat into it’s profitability, or if early critical bad-press caused the studios to hit the eject button and try to get their money back any way they could. I’m gleefully waiting to see if this “zombies in space” film burns up in re-entry.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.