Well, Alexander turned out to be far uglier than the first few days of the weekend suggested. Word of mouth travels fast. An estimated $21.7 million five-day suggests strongly that this film is going to have a very hard time getting to $50 million domestic.
I mean, we’re looking at The Siege, Men of Honor and The 6th Day as the precursors of this ugliness, though Alexander cost more than twice what any of those films cost. Scrooged, which got to $60 million, is the upside of this equation… but that film had the advantage of a Christmas theme that brought an upturn on Christmas week. I don’t expect Alexander to be on more than 800 screens by Christmas week.
On the flip side, The Polar Express is holding better than expected. The film got very tough review from a lot of critics, but the film was the only film not going wide this weekend that actually had an uptick in viewing. I still say, see it in IMAX 3-D… but someone out there is really liking this movie and talking about it. And this weekend’s success will encourage exhibitors to have the film on a large number of screens on Christmas week, even if they start going to matinee-only plays for the next couple of weeks as they await the next wave.
As usual, expectations determine how one sees the success or weakness of the box office results for limited release movies. MCN’s Len Klady sees the results for Finding Neverland, Sideways, and Kinsey to be “solid.” I see them as a bit underwhelming.
Kinsey’s position is very reminiscent of the distribution of The Motorcycle Diaries, a film that has now stalled at around $14 million. Of course, that number is great for a film like Swimming Pool… but not for a hard charging Oscar wannabe.
Miramax has done an excellent job of parlaying an early entry into the season and the power of Johnny Depp to move Finding Neverland along. They’ve gotten some separation from Sideways, which is doing okay, but feels like it is a long way – perhaps an Oscar nod will be required - from a $20 million total. Finding Neverland feels like it could go to 2000 screens next week and do $10 million. Remember, Johnny Depp + Secret Window = $48 million domestic.
The film that Finding Neverland probably will most emulate fiscally is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which hit $35 million in its run last March. For Neverland, that should be enough to make a legitimate Oscar run. There are two huge differences between the Neverland and Eternal Sunshine as far as the awards race goes. First is timing. It is very difficult to rev things back up for a March title in December. Second is that eternal Sunshine is hip and smart and young (just try to get an Academy member to recall the title accurately) while Finding Neverland is an old fashioned weepie. Which do you think Oscar voters prefer?