SUNDAY CENTS: A little ‘Princess’

Posted by · 8:00 pm · December 13th, 2009

The Princess and the Frog*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Disney tasted a bit of its old early-1990s magic with the number one finish of “The Princess and the Frog” this week. The hand-drawn toon grossed $25 million after two phenomenal weeks in New York and Los Angeles only. “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” all had similar Holiday season launches and only “Aladdin” went wide with a bigger total.

Of course, all three were on far fewer venues than the 3,434 of “The Princess and the Frog,” but this is still a very encouraging figure.  Family entertainment is solid gold during the two weeks around Christmas and a finish well over $100 million should be no problem. These aren’t Pixar numbers, but they at least match up to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Fox and the Hound” and other second-tier Disney classics. Or is that third-tier?

“The Blind Side” takes second place with another $15.5 million and cruises past the $150 million mark. Another $3 million and it will pass “Remember the Titans” for the title of highest grossing sports drama since “Rocky.” The $246 million it would need to pass “The Waterboy” for the title of highest grossing football movie may be out of reach, but let’s all pause for a second to digest the fact that “The Waterboy” made $245 million.

“Invictus” takes third place with a soft $9.1 million. Reviews are kind enough that it should play well through Christmas and still hit $40 million, but after “Gran Torino,” that’s chump change for Eastwood. I imagine he’s growling to himself somewhere about this. That or he’s finishing post on two more features.

“Brothers” dropped 48% to $5 million and sixth place, “Armored” fell 46% and “Everybody’s Fine” is out of the top 10 as all three compete to be December’s most forgettable title.

“A Christmas Carol” held the strongest, riding the countdown buzz to Jesus’s big day and sliding only 12%. That’s six straight weeks in the top five so far and the film has quietly amassed $125 million with more to come.

Just missing the top 10 is “Up in the Air,” expanding slightly to 72 screens. A spectacular $34,028 per theater average gave it $2.5 million and the film looks like the Oscar season’s limited opener that is most likely to succeed in wide release. If my hunch is correct, the film will land at the top of Kris’s personal top 10 and that’s worth another $10 million or so at the box office by my estimation.

“The Lovely Bones” only managed a $38,667 per-theater average on three screens in week number one, which is a bit surprising. It’s obviously nothing to sneeze at, but that puts it in the same league as “(500) Days of Summer” and “Whatever Works,” not “Precious” or “Up in the Air.” The film isn’t scheduled to go wide until January 15 and if the numbers don’t hold up, that may already be too late.

“A Single Man” also started well, but not spectacularly with $216,000 from nine screens. Both of these films will need serious critical and awards traction to make an impact over the next few weeks.

I saw two films this week, “Me and Orson Welles” and “A Single Man.” I thought the former was entertaining enough but have to disagree with the critics on the performances. Christian McKay does a dead-on Welles, but he can’t sell his dramatic beats. Efron, on the other hand, was fantastic.  The latter I straight up hated. Other than points for ambition, I can’t find a single thing to like about it.

What do you guys think?  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, December 11, 2009

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

7 responses so far

  • 1 12-13-2009 at 8:18 pm

    j said...

    A Single Man is one of my favorite films ever. For right now. But opinions differ. I’m heartened that the only major critics so far who don’t like it are the ones who don’t like the presumptive winner (and my BP pick of legitimate contenders) Up in the Air.

    Since Locker & box office are both topics today…Hurt Locker has almost 13 mil gross. Only 1 BP winner in 30 years had less than 50 mil final, and even that one was at 44 mil…adjusted that’s over 80 million.

    For BD, slightly more forgiving. Two more grossed less than 50 mil. Polanski won with 33 = 41…& Beatty won with 40, which adjusts to 120 mil+, so that’s not a good point of reference. If they break a pattern by having a woman win, why not be unconventional and choose a winner that got no money?

    In terms of baitiness, Pianist had Nazis, but Locker has better reviews. Though even if Bigelow’s film triples # of tickets sold, it would still be slightly behind Polanski and the least popular BD winner in 3 decades. But Oscars are more important for film nerds than general auds anyway…

  • 2 12-13-2009 at 8:21 pm

    Joel said...

    I saw “The Princess and the Frog,” which I absolutely adored. Really, truly. I’m biased, though, since I’m a Disney nut.

    I also saw “Invictus,” which I thought was…okay. For my money, Matt Damon was better than Morgan Freeman. The movie was uneven as hell. I’d give it a pass for the acting alone, but it’s nothing more than a much more astute, Eastwood-directed version of “The Blind Side” with Nelson Mandela.

  • 3 12-13-2009 at 9:14 pm

    Rare Addict said...

    Glad to see this film succeed both critically and commercially; I saw it on Friday and absolutely loved it. The animation is more beautiful than ever, virtually every one of the characters are both memorable and endearing, and the musical numbers are infectiously catchy. It’s one of the relatively few films that I’ve given a perfect score to, and aside from Beauty and the Beast and last year’s Bolt (which, over the course of this past year, usurped Pulp Fiction as my personal favorite movie of all time), it’s probably my favorite film released by Disney Animation.

  • 4 12-13-2009 at 9:27 pm

    Zac said...

    If Kris can influence the box office to the tune of $10 million, that means Roger Ebert can influence it to the tune of, say $150 million? ;)

    It’ll be fun this week seeing how wide ranging the guesses on Avatar’s opening weekend totals will be.

  • 5 12-13-2009 at 10:18 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Looks like I’ll have to put The Princess and the Frog on my to do list…

    @ j: I’m curious, has there ever been a film that is seems poised to win the Best Director Oscar yet Best Picture is somehow a longshot? It’s just strange to me to see everyone assume Bigelow has this in the bag but relatively few are betting on the film winning the big prize. To be honest, I wish it would happen more often. It makes the Best Director prize seem more unique.

  • 6 12-14-2009 at 1:40 am

    Glenn said...

    Why are all these box office sites comparing “Invictus” with “Gran Torino” when it should be compared to “Changeling”. Considering “Changeling” grossed $9.3 in its opening (wide) weekend and “Invictus” made $9.1 it seems like a logical step.

  • 7 12-14-2009 at 3:12 am

    red_wine said...

    You liked Efron? Whoa! Most critics just hastily scribbled something at the end about him like ‘oh yeah that Efron guy was also in it. As usual, bad’. Honestly, that would also be my reaction. I think I will watch the movie inspite of him.