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Box Office - 'Precious' Sets Limited Release Record

The biggest news at the box office this weekend was the smallest movie. Taking a page out of the book of Paranormal Activity, the Oscar-hyped Precious set a theatrical record, averaging a whopping $100,000 per theater in its 18 locations. That's twice as much as Paranormal managed in its most productive per-screen weekend. And with no other Best Picture candidate in theaters for a month, this is just the beginning of a very healthy run for Precious. Its $1.8 million debut is the most money ever for a movie in so few theaters.

The official winner this weekend is A Christmas Carol. It should have done at least 20% better. A $31 million weekend is decent, and as we mentioned yesterday, it should do well between now and the end of the year because there's not much left for families, and it's so well known around the world that Disney will still make some cash.

Could it have been released later in the month? Yeah, maybe, but as one of our astute readers pointed out in Saturday's box office discussion, it probably wouldn't have had a better start any other weekend through the end of the year. In Disney's corporate world view, though, it will be a boost to the company's fourth quarter. Isn't that what it's all about?

We also said yesterday that Friday fast starters The Fourth Kind and The Men Who Stare at Goats would likely come back to Earth, and they did, opening the door for This It It to finish in second place again. I think both of them probably met their expectations, and Stare at Goats may have exceeded those expectations, earning $13.3 million in under 2,500 theaters. If that film goes on to triple its debut performance, nobody would be unhappy with a $40 million domestic gross for Goats.

The same goes for The Fourth Kind, which began the weekend in second place and dropped to fourth. A $12.5 million weekend is about what it was expected to do, and if it does north of $30 million, that could be a success, too.

Paranormal Activity finished in fifth place, keeping The Box out of the running. That's a bomb. If you have Cameron Diaz in a wide release that can't get past $8 million, there's no other way to look at it.

The Top Five:
1 - A Christmas Carol ($31 million)
2 - This Is It ($14 million)
3 - The Men Who Stare at Goats ($13.3 million)
4 - The Fourth Kind ($12.5 million)
5 - Paranormal Activity ($8.6 million)

Reader Comments (3)

BOMojo has Christmas carol's price at 200, do you really think with that a thirty mill opening is pleasing Disney's bottomline? If I were them I know I wouldn't be happy at all.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterknives

Depends on what it does overseas. It won't make $200 million here, but I don't think Disney ever thought it would get over $150 million or so in the US. Sony does the same thing with the Dan Brown movies. Obviously, it should have been a better start, but I still think it will get over $100 million in the US and should get repeat viewings at IMAX over the next few years a la The Polar Express.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

I agree with Colin. Christmas Carol was never intended to be a blockbuster. These movies tend to burn slowly over months and years. If they truly spent 200 million on the project, it was a long term investment.

Monday, November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStiller

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