Saturday, December 18, 2010

"The weekend before Christmas is a terrible time for movies". It's apparently opposite-day yet again over at Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood.

Here's a not-so dirty secret: the weekend before Christmas weekend is the very best weekend to open a film, bar none. With a full two weeks of 'weekend days' and families spending much of that time together and looking towards a movie theater, anything that can open on this weekend has a decent shot at huge legs. Sure, you've got the obvious smash hits like Avatar ($77 million opening/$750 million domestic), Fellowship of the Ring ($47m/$313m), The Two Towers($65m/$341m), Return of the King ($83m/$373m), Titanic ($28m/$600m), Tomorrow Never Dies ($25m/$125m), The Pursuit of Happyness ($26m/$163m), Jerry Macguire($17m/$153m), and I Am Legend ($77m/$256m). But you also have the films that maybe didn't open as well as they could, but used the holiday period to make up for it with insanely leggy runs. I'm talking about King Kong ($50m opening weekend/$218 million domestic total), The Prince of Egypt ($14m/$101m), Mouse Hunt ($6m/$61m), Sabrina ($5m/$53m), and The Emperor's New Groove($10m/$89m) among many others.

So when Nikki Finke claims that "the last full weekend before Christmas is traditionally a lousy time for North American grosses", she obviously has no idea what she's talking about. And that 'unnamed studio mogul who exclaims: "They're not rushing out to see movies. What you tend to forget, going into this weekend, is that the pool of people who are available, and don’t have a lot of commitments on their time in terms of parties and presents and vacations, is small", well he obviously has no recollection of the oh-so-recent past either (or he's just covering for the under-performances of Yogi Bear and How Do You Know). How vexing it is when the people who get paid to know this stuff get it so obviously wrong.

Scott Mendelson

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