If the world really does end on December 21, 2012, at least one guy is gonna go out happy. Director Roland Emmerich saw his latest disaster epic rake in an estimated $65 million domestically and over $160 abroad for a grand total of $220 million worldwide. That puts the film in the top ten international launches of all time. I always thought that Sony had made an odd choice by scheduling 2012 for a mid-November release. That’s the time of the year that we usually see more high-brow fare in theatres… and teenaged vampires, of course. But it looks like the studio knew exactly what they were doing. Not only did 2012 manage to blow away all its early estimates, the tsunami of money the film is surfing this weekend brought a taste of summer blockbuster back to the box office.
|2||A Christmas Carol||$22,300,000||$63.3|
|3||The Men Who Stare at Goats||$6,200,000||$23.3|
|5||This Is It||$5,100,000||$68.2|
|6||The Fourth Kind||$4,744,000||$20.5|
|9||Law Abiding Citizen||$3,932,000||$67.3|
I believe I closed this column last week by saying that I wasn’t expecting much from the release of 2012. And, reality be damned, I will go to my grave saying I was right to do so. This movie didn’t generate “much” money, after all: It generated soooo much money. From its release in 3,404 theatres 2012 brought in an estimated $65 million in just three days, including $1 million from midnight Thursday bookings.
I was not alone in underestimating the blockbuster. As recently as yesterday box office analysts were predicting that, after Friday’s $23.7 million dollar take, grosses for 2012 would stay flat (or even fall) through Saturday. Wrong again. Saturday’s $24.8 million actually represents a 5% increase over its opening date – the biggest ever in the storied career of director Roland Emmerich.
Back in 2004 Emmerich had a giant debut with his global warming disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. Opening day saw $23.5 million with a weekend above $68 million. But that was in late May of that year – well into the summer movie season. That 2012, Emmerich’s latest end of the world extravaganza, managed to nearly match the director’s best-ever box office haul truly amazes me – especially when I consider that his most recent release, 10,000 B.C., only drummed up $12.5 million on its first Friday in 2008.
But let’s not be too quick to pat Sony on the back. If Emmerich has a hallmark as a director (aside from blowing up beloved monuments) it is his penchant for running huge budgets. Though The Day After Tomorrow came in at a modest $125 million, reports on 2012 put it somewhere above the $200 million mark before marketing. That means that, even with worldwide estimates already topping $200 million, Sony has a long way to go before they see a profit. Compounding this is the report that the studio gave Emmerich 25% of the gross in their bid to distribute 2012 and that New Moon is days away from chopping the film’s legs out from under it here in the US.
Speaking of legs, it looks like Disney’s A Christmas Carol is sitting on a pair that may be sturdy enough to carry it through the holiday season after all. After a less than stellar start, the 3D Carol fell only 26% in its second week to an estimated $22.3 million for a new domestic total of $63.3 million.
Friday’s estimates had the films Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (I thought that, just once, I should use its full title) in a statistical dead heat with the dark comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats. Weekend estimates now have Goats out ahead, though that seems like a hollow victory. George Clooney and his mind-Jedis are fading fast, falling over 52% in week two to $6.2 million. Precious, on the other hand, is surging. The indie pic, which just expanded its run, added over $6 million to its total for another incredible per-theatre average of $35,000.
Precious cannot lay claim to the week’s highest per-screen total, however That honor goes to Fox’s stop-motion animated The Fantastic Mr. Fox which launched domestically in four theatres after opening in select global markets a few weeks backs. From those four screens, Mr. Fox averaged an impressive $65,000 per – boding well for the film’s expansion.
But proving that not every limited release is successful in November, Focus Features’ Pirate Radio suffered a humiliating $3,250 theatre average after launching in 882 runs for a total estimated at just $2.9 million.
Finally, I may have mentioned that next week will see the much-anticipated debut of New Moon – part two in Summit’s Twilight Saga. Let me say it for you: “Oh. My. Gawd! I am SO Excited!!” With presales on New Moon taking a lot of the guesswork out of next weekend’s top five, there won’t be much to do but sit back and watch how high the grosses rise. I’m sure of one thing: 2012‘s $65 million isn’t going to look impressive for very long.