Two comedies open for the second weekend of December, with the quasi-sequel New Year’s Eve and the raunchy laugher The Sitter. Both should see decent bows, but this frame tends to see distractions that cap openings. Overall, the box office should be petty typical for this time of year.
Plugging his Valentine’s Day formula into a different holiday in a new city, director Garry Marshall helms the ensemble rom-com New Year’s Eve. The Warner Bros. flick about multiple couples in NYC has an all-star cast including Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Ludacris, Robert de Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank and Sofia Vergara. The cast and premise give date flick broad appeal across all demographics.
In February 2010, Valentine’s Day opened to powerful $56.2M before fading fast with just $110.4M. That film, however, bowed on the weekend of its namesake holiday, while the New Year’s Eve is three weeks removed from December 31. Older adults are harder to reach in early December, and though the starpower will trump awful reviews, the negative reception toward Valentine’s Day could have an effect. Still with most titles playing younger, there’s an underserved audience here. Though the opening is certain to trail the earlier film, a lack of adult comedies between now and the 31st should lead to strong legs. Bowing in over 3,300 theaters, New Year’s Eve could see $22M this weekend.
The year’s umpteenth and final R-rated comedy arrives in Fox’s The Sitter. Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), the raunchy laugher stars Jonah Hill as a college student on a wild night of babysitting. Hill is a popular supporting actor, but he’s unproven as a lead, and this year’s overload of R-rated comedies will take a toll. The target college-age audience is currently distracted by exams, and with bigger movies opening for Christmas, long-term success will be difficult. A lack of comedy option could help the critically-panned film though. Opening in 2,400 theaters, The Sitter could see $11M this weekend.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight opens the comedy Young Adult in eight theaters. Directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) and written by Juno’s Diablo Cody, the R-rated pic stars Charlize Theron as writer returning to her hometown. The film has generated good early reviews and will go wide next weekend.
After three weeks at number one, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 will finally drop a few spots. With New Year’s Eve playing to a broad age-range of females, Breaking Dawn could fall 50% to $8M, giving Summit a terrific $260M to date.
With no new kidpics, The Muppets could stabilize this weekend. A 35% drop to $7.5M would give Disney $65M in 19 days.
Both Hugo and Arthur Christmas should continue to transform good buzz into low declines. Paramount’s adventure adds another 700 theaters, so the gross could stay about even with $7M. Sony’s Christmas toon will benefit from the approaching holiday and fall 25% to $5M. The 19-day tallies for both films will be about $33M.
Overall, the box office drop a little from both 2010, when The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader bowed to mediocre $24M, and 2009, when The Princess and the Frog opened to a decent $24.2M.