With Halloween now behind us Hollywood is desperately trying to expand the “Holiday Season” to include the first full weekend of November as a suitable starting point for Christmas movies. Why not? “Summer Season” starts in May despite the first day of Summer being over a month and a half away.
So while I agree with John that launching a Christmas movie in early November is a bad idea, the numbers don’t lie. More people were willing to see this at the theater than anything else this weekend. Let’s take a look as Screen Cave spells it out:
1. A Christmas Carol (2009) Weekend Gross $31,000,000
2. Michael Jackson’s This Is It Weekend Gross $14,000,0000 | Total Gross $57,855,000
3. The Men Who Stare at Goats Weekend Gross $13,309,0000
4. The Fourth Kind – Weekend Gross $12,521,0000
5. Paranormal Activity – Weekend Gross $8,600,0000 | Total Gross $97,430,000
6. The Box Weekend Gross $7,855,000
7. Couples Retreat Weekend Gross $6,428,000 | Total Gross $95,980,000
8. Law Abiding Citizen Weekend Gross $6,172,000 | Total Gross $60,873,000
9. Where the Wild Things Are Weekend Gross $4,225,000 | Total Gross $69,268,000
10. Astro Boy Weekend Gross $2,588,000 | Total Gross $15,073,000
When I look at the production costs of some of these films I wonder if Hollywood is going to accept these much longer. While a $31m opening weekend is flattering, the production costs on A Christmas Carol were upwards of $200m. Will there be enough steam dragging this through the Christmas season to recover that? I know in the long run they will sell a heap of DVDs and whatnot, but thats a big number to squeak by.
And then the less than flattering $25m costs of The Box compared to its #6 opening rank tallying in under $8m? Was it the ravenous hordes flocking to see Paranormal Activity (almost breaking a $100m take vs its $15k costs) or was it simply the dumb premise. (A million dollars to hit the button, but someone you dont know somewhere else in the world will die? I would be clicking that button before he finished that sentence. Roll credits.)
A lot of films are getting made on the cheap (relatively anyways) and you have to wonder if Hollywood might lean toward the less visually staggering effects films as a sure bet financially. If A Christmas Carol fails, thats a lot of dough. If Paranormal Activity fails, they will have spent more on the commercials than the film itself.
Is there something to be said about the Return on Investment? When will the gamble become too risky that we might see a shift in Big Studio filmmaking?