'Good Dinosaur' and 'Mockingjay' Battle for First, 'Krampus' Picks Up the Scraps

by Brad Brevet

December 4, 2015

Universal is releasing the holiday-themed horror comedy Krampus into just over 2,900 theaters as we enter a post-Thanksgiving weekend that just might be an improvement over recent years. Typically this weekend results in the top twelve earning around $75 million or so with a recent low of $67 million in 2011 and as much as $91 million in 2009. Call me bullish, but with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 and The Good Dinosaur looking at weekend totals north of $20 million and the likelihood of a strong hold from Creed, I'm expecting closer to $90 million for the top twelve.

When it comes to #1, I have a neck-and-neck horserace between Mockingjay 2 and The Good Dinosaur after Mockingjay 2 won the last two weekends. Ironically enough, the only film in the Hunger Games franchise to not finish #1 three weeks in a row is Catching Fire, the highest grossing of the series, which took second in its third weekend to Frozen back in 2013. Mockingjay 2 is also facing animated competition, but Pixar's The Good Dinosaur isn't lighting the box office on fire in the same way as previous brand titles.

Looking at the second weekend results for the three most recent Pixar titles, Inside Out, Monsters University and Brave dropped in the 42-48% range. In comparison to what we've come to expect from Pixar titles, Good Dinosaur had the worst wide opening for a Pixar title since 1995's Toy Story. It also opened with softer reviews than Pixar has come to expect, but an "A" CinemaScore from audiences is actually right on par with all three of the studio's previous releases, though they were all June releases, which brings up an interesting point.

If we look at the last two Pixar movies that opened in November we find The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc., which dropped 28.7% and 27.2% respectively in their second weekends. Obviously the buzz around those two films was much higher than Good Dinosaur and, in the case of Monsters, Inc., the competition wasn't nearly as stiff, but it's an interesting note to consider.

All said, I have Good Dinosaur narrowly edging out Mockingjay by $500,000 with a 43% drop and a $22.3 million second weekend compared to Mockingjay's $21.8 million. It could be a close one.

In third I'm predicting a strong hold for Creed. Opening weekend CinemaScore was an "A" and I've seen nothing but high marks from all discussing it. Could it do better than my predicted 38% drop? Warner Bros. has added twenty theaters and I'm thinking a $18.3 million weekend is likely and wouldn't be surprised to see higher.

Moving to Krampus, we're looking at the new film from Michael Dougherty who last directed what I would call a "cult" hit in Trick 'r Treat. The film received a lot of online love back in 2008, though ultimately never made it into theaters and went straight to video. As a result, it makes predicting how well Krampus will do even harder as I read it's tracking in the low teens, but an opening over $10 million seems unlikely to me.

First off, the marketing I've seen has pitched the film exclusively as a horror film, when it's apparently a horror comedy. Add to that, Universal doesn't seem to be screening it for many critics (there was no official Seattle invite) and the first two reviews on Metacritic don't exactly paint a pretty picture.

That said, targeting the horror audience might not be such a bad move given the lack of great horror released in theaters this year, but being December it seems a little too late. Looking for comparisons, I found myself largely settling on 2006's Black Christmas, which opened on Christmas Day to $3.3 million and enjoyed a four-day run (Monday thru Thursday) of $7.1 million before its first full weekend. The film starred the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert. Similarly, Krampus isn't boasting big names, though recognizable names are certainly included such as Adam Scott, Toni Collette and David Koechner.

The fact Black Christmas didn't open on a Friday and was in theaters for four days before its first full weekend makes for a bit of a tough, apples-to-apples comparison. That said, it brought in $3.7 million in that first weekend after its Christmas opening, $4.7 million adjusted for inflation. Those numbers seem a bit low if we're trying to predict Krampus, but those opening four days seem like solid comparables, which has me coming up with what may end up a generous forecast of $6.5 million.

Additionally, Fox Searchlight is adding 61 theaters for Brooklyn this weekend, pushing the nationwide total to 906 and a likely $2.7 million weekend.

Also opening this weekend is Spike Lee's Chi-Raq, the debut feature from Amazon Studios with Roadside handling theatrical distribution. The film will release in 305 theaters this weekend in a move much different than what Netflix attempted with Beasts of No Nation. Netflix didn't get much support from exhibitors as a result of premiering the film in theaters and streaming at the same time while Amazon will release Chi-Raq exclusively in theaters before bringing it to the company's streaming service. In fact, a date for its digital release has yet to be announced.

Additionally, The Weinstein Co. will release Macbeth in five theaters, Fox Searchlight is bringing Paolo Sorrentino's Youth to four theaters and Anton Corbijn's Life starring Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan is releasing in 12 theaters. Sony Classics' The Lady in the Van will have its Academy run this weekend before the studio releases it in mid-January, so don't expect any numbers to come rolling in, but it has done quite well in the UK so far where it has racked up $13.7 million in its first few weeks.

Finally, I have no idea what to expect from Freestyle's The Letters, a telling of the story of Mother Teresa, releasing in 886 theaters this weekend. To say the reviews have been less than stellar is an understatement and, considering this is more of an art house feature, negative reviews can pretty much sink the ship before it ever leaves port.

My weekend predictions are below.

  • The Good Dinosaur (3,749 theaters) - $22,317,797
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (4,086 theaters) - $21,843,756
  • Creed (3,424 theaters) - $18,373,184
  • Krampus (2,902 theaters) - $6,529,500
  • Spectre (2,840 theaters) - $6,185,520
  • The Peanuts Movie (2,917 theaters) - $4,290,907
  • The Night Before (2,794 theaters) - $3,182,366
  • Brooklyn (906 theaters) - $2,762,394
  • Spotlight (980 theaters) - $2,733,220
  • Secret in Their Eyes (2,147 theaters) - $2,078,296

A previous version of this post said Fox Searchlight was adding 795 theaters for Brooklyn, when in fact it's only adding 61. The article and predictions have been updated accordingly. The Krampus prediction has also been expanded on with added detail.

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

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