The Christmas week also means the final week of the year, and the final weekend for movies to make an impression before the new year begins. It is usually one of the busiest weekends for Hollywood as movies scramble in a bid to reach out to the audience during their winter break, and benefit from the holiday season. This year is no different. While Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the centre of attention last weekend, it has as many as five new movies to face during the Christmas weekend. Five new releases in one weekend is a hefty figure of which surely a few will lose. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will once again top the charts by a huge distance, but the others still have a lot to play for. The Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home is releasing across the most number of theatres amongst the new releases. David O. Russell’s Joy and Will Smith-starrer Concussion look to be aiming for some awards glory in coming months. The biopic based around the recent US financial crisis, The Big Short, is releasing in relatively fewer theatres to begin with, hoping that it can expand slowly if positive word-of-mouth spreads. The weakest of the lot looks to be Point Break, an unnecessary remake. On top of that, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is having a limited release across 100 theatres. Phew! That’s a crowded weekend for sure. Has it been like this in the past too? This chart can give you an idea.
The chart shows the number of new releases during the Christmas week for the past five years, how many of them managed to be in the top five of the domestic box-office charts and how many had an opening of at least $10 million. It’s been crowded, but the performances have been mixed.
The past three Christmases have been dominated by The Hobbit trilogy, which would release a few weeks back but always stayed strong to top the domestic box-office during the Christmas period. So in 2014, despite four wide releases on the final weekend of the year, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which was in its second week, remained top of the domestic box-office charts. There was still room left for two new releases to open strongly, the musical Into the Woods and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, both movies opening with $30 million plus figures. But Christmas did not bring festivities to Mark Wahlberg starrer The Gambler while things were even worse for Tim Burton’s Big Eyes which earned only $3 million on its opening weekend.
Last weekend of 2013 was pretty terrible for new releases, and there were as many as five movies that opened in more than 1,000 theatres. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was running in its third week and still remained the highest grossing movie for the weekend. Only one of the new releases in fact finished in the top 5 of the domestic charts, which was Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street with a rather dull $18.3 million opening. Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Keanu Reeves starrer 47 Ronin, Sylvester Stallone – Robert De Niro comedy film Grudge Match and Justin Beiber’s film Believe, all of them flopped. 47 Ronin in fact turned out to be one of the biggest flops of the year earning only $152 million worldwide, whereas its production budget alone was $175 million. Ouch, Santa did not come to the party this time!
The last weekend of 2012 was relatively quieter with three new wide releases. Each movie opened in the top five positions on the box-office in North America, eventually to have strong theatrical runs and turn out to be financially successful. On that particular weekend, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was running in its third week, but following Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth were Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, the musical Les Miserables and the comedy Parental Guidance. The less overcrowding might have helped, but they were also better than average movies which would have attracted an audience on possibly another week as well. A rare Happy Christmas for all!
The Christmas period of 2011 was no different than the one we are having this year. Five new releases, jostling with each other for a share of the box-office earnings. None of them topped, that position remained firmly with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and only two made it to the top five: David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. The final domestic earnings of these two movies were not too good in comparison to their production budgets, but earnings from overseas markets helped a lot. Another Spielberg movie, War Horse, did better than expectations to put on a solid run in the post-Christmas period. The Matt Damon starrer We Bought a Zoo wasn’t too impressive, opening below $10 million, while the final release The Darkest Hour got little attention. A mediocre Christmas period for new releases no doubt!
We have to go back to 2010 when a Christmas release in fact took the top position at the box-office. The comedy Little Fockers starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro opened just above $30 million to claim #1 spot. The other release was the western movie True Grit by the Coen brothers which too had a strong opening and fell just below Little Fockers. The Jack Black movie Gulliver’s Travels was the only disappointment amongst the new releases.
So as we see, a crowded Christmas brings about mixed results for new releases, making them quite tough to predict. It won’t be a win-win situation for all this year; so let’s wait for the weekend to end before we decide on who got a boost by Santa and who fizzled out.