'Fockers' Meet Christmas Records

by Brandon Gray
January 3, 2005

Over the holidays, moviegoers gathered around Meet the Fockers in record numbers.

The $80 million comedy debuted to $46.1 million, the biggest Christmas opening ever, and then eased 9% to $41.7 million at over 5,000 screens at 3,524 theaters on New Year's weekend. The total stands at $162.5 million in 12 days and will surpass 2000 predecessor Meet the Parents' $166.2 million lifetime tally by day 13. It's already the eighth highest grossing picture from 2004.

The other records under Meet the Fockers' belt are top Tuesday ever—$12.6 million on Dec. 28—biggest Christmas day—$19.5 million, beating The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King's $14.0 million in 2003—popping $12.1 million for New Year's Eve, eclipsing Cast Away's $8.5 million in 2000—and parading $18.3 million on New Year's Day, ahead of Return of the King's $12.8 million.

"It's a sequel to a successful comedy," Universal's head of distribution Nikki Rocco told Box Office Mojo, explaining why the picture was so big. "The casting was phenomenal and they delivered, the director [Jay Roach] made a great movie, and it was perfectly positioned in a marketplace that needed a big fat comedy."

Meet the Fockers was well timed as the only broadly appealing comedy at a time when many families across the country may have been having uncomfortable get-togethers as the characters do in the movie—the movie's taglines were "And you thought your parents were embarrassing" and "Misery loves family." Meet the Parents wasn't just a blockbuster in 2000, but a highly regarded comedy by audiences as well, playing strongly on video and television. The sequel's marketing recaptured the chemistry between returning stars Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro and built on it with the addition of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. The teaser trailer even recapped the comic highlights from Meet the Parents to Streisand warbling the theme from The Way We Were.

Universal's opening day exit polling indicated that 52% of Meet the Fockers' audience was female and 60% was under the age of 25. Moviegoers liked the picture about as much as its predecessor as 89% rated it "excellent" or "very good" compared to 88% for Meet the Parents. Fockers scored better than Parents in the "definite recommend" category, 68% to 62%.

Meet the Fockers caps off a banner year for Stiller, following Along Came Polly, Starsky and Hutch and DodgeBall (and the one hiccup of Envy, which was a long shelved movie that came back to haunt him). All told, his five movies have earned $467 million so far. Fockers finds Stiller in straight man mode (Meet the Parents, There's Something About Mary, Polly), which has been consistently more successful for him than when he's the zany character (DodgeBall, Zoolander, Mystery Men). Fockers will soon top Mary's $176.5 million as Stiller's No. 1 movie.

When Fockers passes Parents, it will also become the highest grossing picture of DeNiro's career. Though he built his reputation as a serious dramatic actor, DeNiro's only $100 million movies have been comedies where he parodies himself to some extent—the Meet movies and Analyze This. Fockers will also post the biggest grosses ever for Hoffman and Streisand.

1/3 - 'Aviator,' 'Lemony' Lead Modest Lot Under 'Fockers'

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