Christmases Rules, Australia Flops

With the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend in full swing, the early parts of the five-day tallys have begun to be calculated and the news is rosy for some, tragic for others.

The big winner of the holiday season by far is Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon comedy “Four Christmases”. The newcomer pulled in $6.1 million on Wednesday, $5.1M on Thursday, and $13.2M on Friday – the film should complete the five day holiday north of $45 million and the top spot. The money comes despite truly horrendous reviews (25% & 4.3/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, 41% & 4.2/10 on Metacritic) which slammed the holiday comedy.

Scoring decidedly more mixed, but very divisive reviews (52% & 5.8/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, 53% & 7.0/10 on Metacritic) was Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia” which proved the high profile fizzer of the weekend. Fox’s $130 million outback epic opened in seventh place on Wednesday with $2.2M, fifth place on Thursday with $2.9M and sixth on Friday with $5.7M. All up the film is expected to tally under $20 million for the five day weekend.

Fox has always held that Luhrmann’s films do best in international markets and are long-life films rather than big openers. Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” flopped in the US with $57 million but managed more than double that internationally. His “Romeo + Juliet” did similar numbers ($43M US, $100M Global), and the US opening weekend of both films ended up being only 25% of their final domestic tally. Yet reviews for this film were far more negative than any of Luhrmann’s other work, indicating a long life for the feature is unlikely.

The most telling story though is the film’s disappointing opening in its home country. Despite a massive media blitz the likes of which hasn’t been seen in years, and reviews that have generally been more forgiving, “Australia” opened in Australia on Wednesday to the tune of just under AUD$1 million on its opening day. To give you a comparison, the new James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” opened last Wednesday and managed a $2M opening day, and in fact in its eighth day of business managed to still beat out the opening day of “Australia” and pushed it to second place.

Speaking of ‘Quantum’, the disappointing 007 feature took in $4.5M on Wednesday, $4.1M on Thursday, and $8.2M on Friday which will likely give it a five-day total of somewhere around $30 million and a fourth place spot, not bad for a film in its third weekend. The other newcomer this week was low-budget action rival “The Transporter 3” which scored poor reviews (34% & 4.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, 53% & 7.3/10 on Metacritic), and first three-day tallies of $3.3M, $2.8M and $4.2M. All up expect a $17M estimate for the five days.

Last week’s holdovers “Twilight” and “Bolt” are fighting it out neck-and-neck for second and third place with $11M vs. $10.9M for Friday. The teen vampire romance has notably lost much of its record-breaking $70M bite from last weekend with the film likely to finish up under $40 million for the five-day tally. The CG-animated dog tale however managed to increase its business from last week and will likely finish up with a little over $30 million for the five-day holiday.

“Milk” and “Slumdog Millionaire” are proving excellent performers in limited release, taking in $14,706 and $9,898 per screen averages respectively on Friday alone. Further details of the entire Holiday weekend box-office will be forthcoming on Monday.