Box Office

Happy Feet vs Casino Royale

It looks like the penguins will just beat Bond at the US Box Office this weekend. Variety reports:

The first big battle of the holiday season ended with a cadre of penguins beating out James Bond. Warner Bros.’ CG-animated “Happy Feet” landed at No. 1 with $42.3 million off 3,804, while Sony/MGM’s latest Bond pic, “Casino Royale,” nabbed just over $40 million.

“Feet” was playing on over 3,800 screens, while Bond occupied about 370 less.

Box Office Mojo has Happy Feet just ahead of Casino Royale even though Hollywood Elsewhere thinks that it could be much closer.

*** UPDATE at 23.45 GMT: Leonard Klady at Movie City News is suggesting some kind of dead heat in his weekend box office report. Let’s see how Sony and Warner Bros spin this out… ***
> The weekend predictions by Box Office Mojo
> Box Office Guru also weighs in with some analysis

Box Office Thoughts

Little numbers

It is always depressing to see a really good film die at the box office. But it is worse when you have a creeping feeling that it will struggle to find an audience and then dies anyway. Such is the fate of Little Children, one of the most intelligent and well crafted dramas to be released this year.

In the US it has grossed just over $1 million dollars despite a gradual release on limited screens and mostly positive reviews. In the UK it was a similar story and it only just crept in to the top 10 after its release last week. Maybe it was the enigmatic trailer. Maybe people were putting off by a glut of reviewers inaccurately describing one of the main characters.

One person I spoke to, who did actually go and see it, was non-plussed – his chief complaint was “I couldn’t tell you what it was about”. Is it just me or is it a sad day when films like this, that dare to be complex, subtle and different, don’t get given a chance by studios or audiences?

Everyone is right in hindsight, but surely this was a film that would have benefited from being released later in the awards season? it is also easy to blame the marketing department but here in the UK it seemed to have a very light promotional push.

It was at the London Film Festival and Winslet appeared on Parkinson but there seemed to be little in the way of print or poster ads. And, of course, it opened in the same week as the box office phenomenon known as Borat.

It may still get award recognition (Kate Winslet still looks good for a Best Actress nomination) but it seems like this is going to be sadly overlooked. A great shame indeed.

> Check out Google Showtimes for Little Children if your still interested in seeing it
> Read some reviews of it at Metacritic

Box Office News

Borat at the US Box Office

It looks like Borat is on its way to being a box office smash in the US. Despite Fox scaling the release back to 837 screens and fears that it would be another internet fuelled disappointment the film looks on course to be a huge hit.

Variety reports:

After broad speculation that Internet buzz on Fox comedy “Borat” could make the pic “Snakes on a Plane 2,” the pic played more like “Fahrenheit 9/11” over the frame, coming in at No. 1 with $26.3 million.

Left-field hit won the frame handily while playing on just 837 screens, four times less than No. 2 finisher, Disney’s third installment in its “Santa Clause” series, which grabbed $20 million.

“Borat’ played to a whopping per engagement average of $31,511.

Pic was also an international sensation over the frame for the studio, which will now ratchet up the pic’s domestic playdates to 2,500 next frame. That move makes an already overcrowded fall that much more swamped with pics vying for attention.

Frame’s other new wide opener, Paramount’s “Flushed Away,” from Dreamworks Animation, came in No. 3 with $19 million.

“Borat” won the day, in part, because “Clause” and “Flushed” split their family auds, while the kamikaze Kazakh TV commentator brought in adults. Pic’s demos skewed slightly male and almost half the aud was over 25.

As Anne Thompson rightly pointed out last week, the key difference between Snakes on a Plane and Borat is that the former was a B-movie with a catchy concept whilst the latter is a genuinely hilarious comedy with enormous water cooler potential.

Despite some predictably contrarian reviews that bark up the wrong tree, it is still likely to do spectacular business when it goes wide next week. Here in the UK I imagine it will be a similar story.

> Reviews of Borat at Metacritic
> Box Office Mojo on Borat’s US performance