After Wednesday’s surprising No. 1 debut by “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel,” it was clear that this holidays weekend’s box office was going to be anything but predictable. Christmas Eve saw “Avatar” crush the “Alvin” sequel, but Christmas Day? That was a different matter entirely.
Demonstrating the star power of Robert Downey, Jr., “Sherlock Holmes” opened to an impressive $24.9 million on Friday narrowly beating “Avatar’s” $23.5 million on its 8th day. Both films are projected to do anywhere from $65-70 million for the weekend, but “Holmes” may have an edge because it’s in 174 more theaters. When all is said and done, this race may not be decided until the actual figures come in on Monday morning.
Claiming No. 1 won’t really matter for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox though. Both films are genuine blockbusters and with $160 million already “Avatar” could be at $250 million by the end of the New Year’s weekend. “Holmes”? Well, depending on the cinemascore and long term playability, Warner Bros. may just have a new franchise on its hands.
In third place was “Alvin” deux with another $14.5 million. That brings it’s new cume to $41.4 million after only three days. It should be past $65 million by the end of the weekend.
Fourth place went to “It’s Complicated” with $7.1 million and an estimated $23-25 million 3-day. The Meryl Streep adult romantic comedy looks like it will be director Nancy Meyer’s biggest opening since “What Women Want” in 2000 and that’s a nice late Christmas gift for the folks sweating it out at Universal Pictures.
Fifth place was a battle between “Up in the Air’ and “The Blind Side” with $3.4 and $3.3 million respectively. How the weekend will shake out is unclear, but both are looking to end up with between $13-15 million. For “Air” in particular, this is a strong result considering the heavy competition. The Jason Reitman dramedy didn’t explode at the box office, but it provided more than solid results to keep the film’s Best Picture hopes alive.
Other expansions, however, were not so kind. Rob Marshall’s musical “Nine” expanded to 1,412 theaters and grossed only $2.2 million on Friday. How the $85 million budgeted picture will shake out will be an intriguing story to watch. “Most” musicals have a big opening day due to pent up fan demand and then settle back into a more traditional run. In December of 2004, “Phantom of the Opera” opened to a much more potent $4 million on 626. The Joel Schumacher musical received just as many negative notices as “Nine,” but found a steady stream of patrons (many of whom had seen touring “Phantom” shows for years) to gross $51 million domestically and another $103 million overseas. In November of 2005, the bomb “Rent had a monster opening day, but crashed back to earth with only $10 million over its first frame and ending up with just $29 million when all was said and done. How will “Nine” pan out? It’s clearly not in the “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” or “Hairspray” stratosphere, that’s for sure.
Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.