Why Do So Many Movies Open Christmas Day?

Because you get tired of your family and need something to do, that's why. But there's some real Hollywood science behind it, too

By Leslie Gornstein Dec 24, 2008 11:00 PMTags
Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Marley and MeBarry Wetcher/ Fox

Why are there so many movies opening on Christmas Day? There's Marley & Me, Benjamin Button, Valkyrie with Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories.
—Anna, West Virginia

Don't forget Doubt, starring Meryl Streep as a nun, and The Spirit, costarring Scarlett Johanssen, Eva Mendes and Jamie King as ... the exact opposite of all that.

"The end of the year is one of the biggest times for movie ticket sales," says Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray. "This week in December, since the year 2000, has consistently been the highest-grossing week of the year."

So in other words, people go to the movies on Christmas. Because, as Gray puts it so well, "You're opening presents on Christmas morning, and then what? So you go to the movies." But there's more...

Christmas is also an excellent time to platform a so-so film and give it a chance to build over time. Remember the Hilary Swank weeper P.S. I Love You? Thought you'd flossed your brain clean of that one, didn't you? That film was released right around Christmastime last year, and its producers are sure glad they did that.

"That's an example of a movie that didn't really have an outstanding opening but held on for a while," Gray says. Specifically, the film opened with $6.5 million its first weekend but managed to draw in a total domestic gross of $53.7 million through January.

"Normally, if a picture opens to $6.5 million, you're lucky if you can make it to $20 million," Gray says.

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