Steve’s Box Office Report: December 2006

Steve’s Box Office Report: December 2006

Top 10 Films for the Month of December:  

  1. Night at the Museum – $250,863,268
  2. The Pursuit of Happyness – $163,566,459
  3. Dreamgirls – $103,365,956
  4. Charlotte’s Web – $82,985,708
  5. Eragon – $75,030,163
  6. Rocky Balboa – $70,270,943
  7. The Holiday – $63,224,849
  8. The Good Shepherd – $59,952,835
  9. Blood Diamond – $57,377,916
  10. Apocalypto – $50,866,635

Honorable Mentions:  

  1. We Are Marshall – $43,545,364
  2. The Nativity Story – $37,629,831
  3. Unaccompanied Minors – $16,655,224
  4. Black Christmas – $16,273,581

December Winners: Night at the Museum, the Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, and Rocky Balboa

So after a pretty long and very interesting year, we finally come to the final month of 2006 and needless to say it has been a very unique journey to say the least. After several highs and lows experienced throughout the year, December looks to end 2006 on a strong note after November perked the box office up following a pretty dismal fall. Aside from the summer months, December is usually seen as one of the busiest times of the year for movies in part due to the holiday season and this month tends to see plenty of winners in terms of box figures. With that in mind, the first winner of the month is one of the big winners of not just the month but the year in general and that is Night at the Museum, an action-comedy where Ben Stiller works as a night guard at a museum where the exhibits come to life. Coming out three days before Christmas day, it came out at just the right time as it became the go-to family film with Happy Feet starting to slow down and it would continue to play well into the beginning of 2007 which resulted in a major success for this film. The next film of the month that ends up being a winner is the drama film the Pursuit of Happyness, a biographical film based on entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s year of being homeless. With Will Smith driving the film and also serving as a launching pad for his son Jaden, the film received positive reviews with Smith’s performance being lauded and it played strong throughout the holidays as a feel-good story. Speaking of awards contenders having strong performances, that brings up to the third winner of the month Dreamgirls, an adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical loosely based on the career of the Supremes. Much like the Pursuit of Happyness, it was carried by strong performances from Beyonce and Eddie Murphy while launching Jennifer Hudson into the stratosphere and it would also play well throughout the holidays into the new year. The final film from this month that makes the list of winners is the long awaited Rocky Balboa, the 6th film in the Rocky series with Sylvester Stallone portraying the legendary boxer. Despite finishing 5th in the overall series in terms of money, it was looked as a welcome return to the series following the disappointing Rocky V and showed that the Rocky series still potentially had life going forward. I think that the one thing that we can all agree on is that the holiday season was a very fruitful season for these four films as each one brought a different type of audience and all succeeded in the long run.

December Losers: Eragon, the Holiday, the Good Shepherd, Blood Diamond, and We Are Marshall

While December is seen as a good month for films with the holidays bringing in extra crowds, it isn’t without its hiccups as there is only enough money to go around and you had to bring something special to the table if you wanted to be successful. While most of the films released this month did end up either succeeding or at least matching expectations, there were plenty of films released this month that ended up not succeeding and thus were the losers of the month. Perhaps the biggest loser of the month has to be the fantasy film Eragon which was based on the book of the same name, and it would end up being one of the worst reviewed films of the year and ended up underperforming trying to compete against Night at the Museum. The next film on the list of losers is the romantic comedy the Holiday, which seems a bit unusual to include here as you’d figure the holiday tie-in would help propel it up. Unfortunately despite being one of the few comedies released during the month, its target audience was drawn to other films and it ended up falling a bit flat amidst the mixed reviews it received. The next film on the list of losers for the month of December is the spy thriller the Good Shepherd, a film loosely based on the formation of the CIA. Despite having Robert De Niro directing it and having a pretty loaded cast, it also ended up underperforming as adults were more drawn to the Pursuit of Happyness and Dreamgirls which caused Good Shepherd to be one of the bigger losers of the month. However it would not be the only political film to fail during this month as the next loser of the month is Blood Diamond, a political-war thriller set during the Sierra Leone War over “blood diamonds”. Unlike the other films, this one did receive somewhat better reviews from critics and it was released closer to the beginning of the month, but like the other films in this list it failed to find an audience and ended up underperforming pretty badly. The final film to make the list of losers for this month is the sports film We Are Marshall, a film depicting the aftermath of the tragic plane crash that killed 37 Marshall students. It also received mixed reviews from critics and ended up being crushed under the weight of the bigger films released this month and you have to wonder if it may have done better if it was released back in the fall. One thing that we can agree on is that these five films should’ve done so much better being released during the holidays, but due to the success of the other films it ended up causing these other films to fail and become losers of the month.

The Surprise/Story of December 2006: Night at the Museum reigns supreme over awards contenders

As I previously mentioned the last two months, this is the timeframe when the awards contenders come out and start to make their cases as the year comes to an end and the new year begins. There are a few films that come out wide during this month and if they can attract an audience, it can do very well and we see that here with Pursuit of Happyness and Dreamgirls doing very well. However at the end of the day, the month of December 2006 was mainly dominated by Night at the Museum as it was the only film released this month to crack over $200 million and ended up being one of the most successful films of the year. This would begin a trend as major films are released this month and end up finishing ahead of awards contenders, but it will be interesting to track and see if any awards contenders can finish on top of the month of December.

Overachiever of December 2006: Night at the Museum

When it came to deciding an overachiever for this month to close out 2006, I was fully expecting to choose one of the awards contenders that had a very successful run. However when I looked at the numbers, it was pretty clear that the runaway winner for this category had to be Night at the Museum. While it did have the advantage of coming out essentially on Christmas weekend even though Christmas fell on a Monday, it was able to overcome mixed reviews from critics to become the go-to film for families over the holidays. It is hard to dispute the success of the other two big films of the month which were Pursuit of Happyness and Dreamgirls, but with families being the driving force during the holidays it was an easy layup win for Night at the Museum and it ended up outperforming expectations which earns it the title of overachiever of December of 2006.

Underachiever of December 2006: None

On the flip side of the overachiever award, I was fully expecting to come up with an easy choice for the underachiever of the month as there were a few choices that on the surface seem like prime choices. However when you look deeper into the pool, you realize that perhaps it’s not as clear cut as it seems since most of the other films released this month did not have lofty expectations to begin with. One could argue that with most of these films being released around Christmas and this time being one of the busiest periods of the year that a few films should’ve done so much better, but again there weren’t many films released this month that completely bombed or severely underperformed. As a result, this would end up being the only month of the year that there is no underachiever of the month and it will be interesting going forward to see if this happens again.

December 2006 Awards Watch: The Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, the Good Shepherd, Blood Diamond, and Apocalypto

As I had previously mentioned a few times, this is the timeframe when most of the awards contenders come out either in limited release or have been out for a while and come out on a wide scale for the holiday season. While this month does not ultimately have the most films released that are considered awards contenders, the crop is still pretty strong as most of them did make some good money during this stretch. The first film from the month to make the list is the Pursuit of Happyness as it would be nominated for one Academy Award (Best Actor) which it didn’t win as well as two Golden Globe Awards (Best Actor – Drama and Best Original Song) though it wouldn’t win those either. The next film of the month to make the list is Dreamgirls which would win two Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actress and Best Sound Mixing) while being nominated for four more (Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Song (for three different songs)). Dreamgirls would also three Golden Globe Awards (Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress) while also being nominated for two more (Best Actress – Musical or Comedy and Best Original Song) which clearly makes it one of the more successful films of the year. The next film from this month to make the list is the Good Shepherd as it would get nominated for one Academy Award (Best Art Direction) which it wouldn’t win, but it was a good consolation for a film that ended up underperforming. The next film on the list from this month is Blood Diamond as it would be nominated for five Academy Awards (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing) though it would not win any, and it would also be nominated for one Golden Globe (Best Actor – Drama) which it wouldn’t win either. The final film from the month of December to be in this category is the epic film Apocalypto as it would be nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing) though it wouldn’t win any, and it would also be nominated for one Golden Globe Award (Best Foreign Film) which it wouldn’t win. But it goes to show you that December usually sees some very successful films released and this month proves that as a lot of films got multiple nominations for awards.

Overall Thoughts of December 2006:

Overall, the final month for the year of 2006 ends up being a pretty successful one and ends the year on a pretty solid note. For the many ups and downs that we have seen throughout the year, this month was about in the middle with a few successful films though it wasn’t without its few misses. We did see three films from this month finish with over $100 million with one going over $200 million which was considered big for December at the time, but as mentioned there were a few films that fell somewhat flat despite having the holiday season carry most of the films. 2006 is finally in the books and suffice to say it has been a very interesting year to say the least, we have had plenty of high spots mostly in the summer and the holiday period though there were low points as well with the beginning of the year and the fall doldrums. As the year thankfully comes to an end and we begin a new year with 2007, we will see if the year can be even stronger than 2006 or if it will end up being possibly worse than this year. As for the month of December and ultimately the year of 2006, it is a pretty solid end to what has been a roller coaster of a year and ends on a slight high spot.

Final Grade: B