Box Office Guru Preview: Keanu Invasion Begins at Box Office

Also: Nothing Like the Holidays, Delgo to fight for remaining scraps.

by | December 11, 2008 | Comments

Keanu Reeves invades multiplexes across North America with his new sci-fi actioner The Day the Earth Stood Still which opens five years to the day after the actor’s last stint in the number one spot. Also debuting are the family drama Nothing Like the Holidays and the animated adventure Delgo.

Gunning for an easy victory at the box office this weekend, The Day the Earth Stood Still sees Fox targeting the same audience that Warner Bros. went after with I Am Legend a year ago this very weekend with its own star-driven end-of-the-world thriller. The PG-13 film co-stars Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, and Kathy Bates. To add to the grossing potential, Day will also open on higher-priced Imax screens plus the film will have attached to it the trailer for the studio’s summer franchise flick X-Men Origins: Wolverine. These tactics will ensure that a large crowd will show up.

Earth has many factors working in its favor this weekend which will join forces to deliver a strong number one debut. Effects-driven disaster films almost always score big numbers and Keanu is a bankable lead in the sci-fi and action genres so his salary will end up being a worthwhile investment. Older sci-fi fans may also be curious to see how a classic tale got updated so the film could play to a broad age range. Plus the current marketplace is weak and ticket buyers are hungry for that next big event film and Earth is the only one that really fits the bill right now. No effects-driven action film has opened north of $20M in four months so Gort and company will capitalize on pent up demand.

Earth should connect with many of the same moviegoers that came out earlier this year for the non-sequel actioners Cloverfield and 10,000 B.C. Those pics bowed on top with $40.1M and $35.9M, respectively, but Keanu should fly higher. TV spots for Day even take a page from the successful campaign Fox put together for its weather disaster smash The Day After Tomorrow more than four years ago. Landing in 3,559 sites, The Day the Earth Stood Still may open to about $48M.

Keanu Reeves in The Day the Earth Stood Still

The always dependable family reunion is used to set up the story in Nothing Like the Holidays, the tale of a Chicago set that gets back together for Christmas to face challenges that can only be solved by…coming together as a family. The mostly Latino cast includes John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Jay Hernandez, Alfred Molina, and Debra Messing. Overture is looking for a hit and hoping that the picture can play to a broader audience than just the Spanish-speaking population. But that crowd alone can be a driving force at the box office and should respond to Nothing thanks to its starpower, family bonding plot, plus the fact that a wide release with a mostly Latino cast is a rare event not to be missed.

Reviews have been mixed and business from outside the community will not be easy to generate. African Americans have already proven themselves to be a viable demographic at the box office, but Latinos have had only a fraction of the opportunities even though they make up a larger portion of the country’s population. This film will be looked at as a test. Coming home to 1,671 theaters, Nothing Like the Holidays could collect roughly $7M this weekend.

John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, and Alfred Molina in Nothing Like the Holidays

Freestyle releases the animated adventure Delgo featuring the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kelly Ripa, and Val Kilmer into about 1,800 theaters. That’s curiously wide for a film with almost no buzz. The PG-rated toon will play mostly to kids and might scrape together around $2M.


The usual end-of-year rush with limited release titles continues this weekend with a handful of new films opening in selected cities. Among the more high-caliber dramas are Clint Eastwood‘s second directorial effort of the year, and first that stars him, with Gran Torino which Warner Bros. platforms in New York and Los Angeles. Meryl Streep makes a bid for her record fifteenth Oscar nomination with Miramax’s Doubt co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Following his Best Actor win at Cannes earlier this year, Benicio del Toro hits the commercial market in the U.S. with Steven Soderbergh‘s Che in its full two-part four-and-a-half-hour length for a one-week Academy run at the Ziegfeld in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles playing only two shows per day.

After two weeks at number one, the holiday comedy Four Christmases will drop a notch or two, but expect some decent legs. The Warner Bros. release is going over well with audiences so a 40% decline could result giving the film about $10M for the weekend and $84M in 19 days. Summit’s Twilight has also been staying relatively strong so a 45% drop to $7M may occur. That would give the vampire saga $149M to date.

Disney’s Bolt suffered a big fall coming off of the Thanksgiving holiday, but this weekend look for it to stabilize as it’s still the only major option for younger kids. Delgo will not be much of a threat. Look for a 40% fall to around $5.5M which would push the cume to $87M. A similar decline should result for Fox’s Australia which could round up another $4M lifting its modest domestic tally to $37M. The total snub by the Golden Globes won’t help.

LAST YEAR: Two smash openings led the overall box office to its biggest non-holiday December weekend ever. Will Smith led the way with his apocalyptic actioner I Am Legend which broke the December opening weekend record with a towering $77.2M. Warner Bros. would go on to capture $256.4M domestically and $584M worldwide. Fox also had reason to celebrate as its family comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks bowed in second place with a terrific $44.3M on its way to $217.3M from North America and $358M globally. Clobbered in its second weekend was the fantasy epic The Golden Compass which tumbled 66% falling two spots to third with $8.8M. The princess comedy Enchanted landed in fourth with $5.5M while eventual Oscar champ No Country For Old Men rounded out the top five with $2.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

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