B.O. Analysis, Dec. 7: Ccmedy ‘Christmases’ Still Dominates

Warner Brothers’ Four Christmases tops the chart for the second weekend in a row as it crosses the $70 million mark and proves that its holiday-oriented theme and title were the perfect combination for moviegoers looking for some light-hearted fare this weekend.

Given the limited release patterns of the newcomers, this gave the hold-over films an opportunity to dominate the chart. Interestingly, Summit’s teen vampire flick Twilight and Disney’s animated Bolt flip flopped again as the two films have been battling for position since their debuts three weeks ago.

Bolt is now approaching the $100 million mark, while Twilight has its sights firmly fixed on the $150 million benchmark as teen girls continue to support the film. At No. 4, Fox’s Australia proves that older audiences are supporting the film which is now approaching the $40 million mark. Finally, in fifth plave Sony’s Quantum of Solace remains a fixture in the Top five and has now crossed the $150 million mark domestically and $500 million worldwide.

Causing some intrigue outside of the top 5 were newcomers such as Lionsgate’s Punisher: War Zone, Sony’s Cadillac Records, Freestyle’s Nobel Son and Universal’s acclaimed Frost/Nixon, which all enjoyed varying degrees of success in their debuts.

The latest in the Punisher franchise found itself in the eighth spot for the weekend and should look forward to a potentially strong run on home video. Lacking original star Thomas Jane probably did not help its box-office prospects, but the modestly budgeted film could come up a winner when all of its ancillary revenues are added up.

Opening in ninth place was Sony’s Cadillac Records, which posted a very solid per-theatre average of over $5,000 in just the right amount of theatres. The music-themed film had a terrific marketing campaign and a very appealing cast. Most disappointing may have been the performance of Freestyle’s Nobel Son, which despite fairly strong reviews managed only $415 per-theatre for the entire weekend in 893 locations.

The best news of the weekend came from the limited release Oscar-contenders, which all had banner weekends. Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire continued to impress with over $18,000 per-theatre, while Focus Features’ Milk did the same with over $17,000 per situation. Both films build great word-of-mouth and much-deserved Oscar buzz.

Finally, no discussion of this weekend would be complete without noting the incredible $60,049 per-theatre average for Universal’s Frost/Nixon The film boasts Oscar-caliber performances from the two leads, Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, plus stellar direction by Ron Howard and phenomenal attention to period detail and wardrobe. From top to bottom this is one of the finest films of 2008 and hopefully this incredible performance in just three theatres in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto portends a strong run as the film expands into wider release.

A solid if not spectacular weekend that keeps our box-office winning streak alive as we head toward the home stretch of the box-office year of 2008.

THREE-DAY STUDIO ESTIMATES (Source: Media by Numbers)

1. Four Christmases (Warner Bros.) – $18.1M; 3335 theaters; $5,451 PTA; -41%; $70.8M cume

2. Twilight (Summit Ent.) – $13.1M; 3620 theaters; $3,646 PTA; -50%; $138.5M cume

3. Bolt (Disney) – $9.6M; 3516 theaters; $2,758 PTA; -64%; $79.2M cume

4. Australia (Fox) – $7M; 2721 theaters; 2,573 PTA; -53%; $30.8M cume

5. Quantum of Solace (Sony/MGM) – $6.6M; 3423 theaters; $1,928 PTA; -65%; $151.4M cume

6. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Paramount) – $5.1M; 3317 theaters; $1,538 PTA; -64%; $165.6M cume

7. Transporter 3 (Lionsgate) – $4.5M; 2626 theaters; $1,714 PTA; -63%; $25.3M cume

8. NEW! Punisher: War Zone (Lionsgate) – $4M; 2508 theaters; $1,595 PTA

9. NEW! Cadillac Records (Sony/Tri-Star) – $3.5M; 686 theaters; $5,102 PTA

10. Role Models (Universal) – $2.6M; 1907 theaters; $1,375 PTA; -49%; $61.6M cume