Weekend Box Office (November 16 - 18, 2012)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The ever-reliable Twi-hards came out like clockwork one last time for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 which shot straight to number one leading a frame that saw North American multiplexes overflowing with traffic. With the James Bond adventure Skyfall still strong in the runner-up spot, Steven Spielberg's Oscar bait Lincoln opening nationally in third place, and some notable holdovers, the box office powered to a stunning $245M+ making it the second biggest weekend of the year trailing only the session that saw the Avengers make its record-shattering premiere.

The fifth and final film installment of the popular Twilight franchise, Breaking Dawn Part 2, towered over its competitors with an opening weekend of $141.1M, according to final studio figures. That made for a scorching $34,660 average from 4,070 locations with no boost in ticket prices from IMAX or 3D. That marked the second biggest opening of the series behind the $142.8M of New Moon which opened this same weekend in 2009. It was also just a tick up from the $138.1M of Breaking Dawn Part 1 from this weekend last year showing that the fan base has been coming out consistently over the years and not eroding by any significant amount. That's rare for a five-part film series and matches the consistent loyalty shown over the years by Harry Potter fans.

Summit's newest Bella pic ranks as the eighth largest opening of all-time and second highest for November behind New Moon. The party kicked off on Friday which saw a potent $71.2M opening day including $30.4M from Thursday night shows beginning earlier than usual at 10pm. Saturday saw the inevitable plunge with sales falling 42% to $41.4M which was a somewhat better hold than the last chapter which suffered a 44% Friday-to-Saturday drop. Sunday declined by 31% to $28.5M. Part 1 dipped 34% on its first Sunday.

Fans had been anticipating the big finale of the series but with all three November sequels opening within 3% of each other, there was no extra boost in business that can sometimes be enjoyed when a franchise presents its final chapter. Still, the turnout was massive and Twilight can now claim three spots on the list of all-time biggest opening weekends. The only other franchise to have multiple installments is Christopher Nolan's Batman with the last two Dark Knight films.

Audience breakdowns showed that females were the majority making up 79% of the crowd compared to 80% for the last pic. Those under and over 25 were split evenly. Some good news came from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore as Breaking Dawn Part 2 earned a solid A grade (better than last one's B+). But that should not mean too much to a franchise film like this with so much upfront demand. New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 1 both did 48-49% of their total domestic business on opening weekend despite having Thanksgiving fall on their sophomore frames (70% drops in each case). Part 2 should be no different putting it on a trajectory to end up with $280-290M.

Being a global pop culture phenomenon, and featuring a more international stable of vampire characters this time around, Breaking Dawn Part 2 did spectacular business abroad with an estimated $199.6M from 61 territories this weekend putting its worldwide opening at a jaw-dropping $340.7M, up from the $284M global debut of the last film in the saga. To date, the five Twilight films have grossed a remarkable $2.84 billion worldwide with each of the three sequels having finished right near the $700M mark. The franchise could very well close its books with $3.3 billion from global box office plus countless more from home entertainment, merchandising, and other revenue streams.

Following its record opening, the latest James Bond adventure Skyfall enjoyed a good hold dropping a reasonable 54% to $41.1M boosting the domestic cume to a sensational $160.9M after ten days of wide release plus an extra day of large-format-only play. The Sony/MGM smash is just a few days away from surpassing the $168.4M of the last installment Quantum of Solace and the $167.4M of 2006's Casino Royale and become the highest-grossing 007 film ever in North America (many past installments over the decades have sold more tickets, though). At its current pace, Skyfall could reach $250M domestically which would be sharply ahead of what this franchise has been able to do.

The newest Bond film continued to rock the global box office with an estimated $49.6M from international markets this weekend lifting the overseas total to $507.9M and the worldwide haul to an eye-popping $669M breaking the franchise record of $599.2M set in 2006 by Casino. Skyfall is now the biggest Bond ever both internationally and globally and still has plenty of fuel in the tank with Australia, Japan, and China yet to open. Overseas, it is now the third biggest live-action blockbuster of 2012 behind just The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises and should surpass the Batflick over the coming weeks on its way to breaking the billion-dollar mark worldwide. Propelled by Skyfall, Sony has now grossed over $4 billion globally this year - a new company high.

Audiences reacted to stellar reviews and growing Oscar talk by coming out in large numbers for Steven Spielberg's latest film Lincoln which expanded nationwide with $21M from 1,775 theaters for a sizzling $11,859 average per location. The PG-13 pic starring Daniel Day-Lewis going for his third Best Actor trophy playing the 16th U.S. President played to older adults and fared quite well despite Skyfall doing so well with the same demographic. Produced by DreamWorks and released by Disney, Lincoln debuted in limited play last weekend in just 11 theaters and is now available to moviegoers in all major markets. And with an encouraging A grade from CinemaScore, the road ahead looks promising.

Disney's hit toon Wreck-It Ralph fell by 44% in its third round to $18.6M and has boosted its 17-day sum to $121.8M with the lucrative Thanksgiving frame coming up shortly. Family audiences will get some new choices on Wednesday with the DreamWorks 3D animated film Rise of the Guardians launching in 3,500 theaters along with Fox's PG-rated 3D survival-at-sea adventure Life of Pi setting sail in 2,700 locations. Also bowing wide is the remake Red Dawn in 2,600 sites.

Male-led adult dramas followed. Denzel Washington's Flight dropped 41% in its third weekend to $8.8M giving the Robert Zemeckis-directed film $61.5M to date for Paramount. The studio added another 565 playdates helping the overall hold. Flight's per-theater average declines over its holdover weekends have been 45% and 53%.

The hostage hit Argo grossed $4M, down 39%, putting Warner Bros. at $92M. The Oscar hopeful will soon surpass the $92.2M of Ben Affleck's last directorial effort The Town which generated plenty of Oscar buzz when it was released two years ago only to fail to land the coveted Best Picture and Best Director nominations. Argo is looking to be a definite player in those races this time. Liam Neeson's action sequel Taken 2 tumbled 47% to $2.1M and has grossed $134.7M to date for Fox. It should finish its domestic run only slightly behind the $145M of its 2009 predecessor.

Opening in eighth place was the Bollywood romance Jab Tak Hai Jaan with $1.28M from 160 locations for a $8,022 average. Since its Tuesday release, the Yash Raj release has taken in $1.9M over six days and set a new record for highest chart position for a Bollywood film on the North American charts. Two films in the past debuted at number ten, but none higher until now.

Universal's leggy comedy Pitch Perfect took a beating with young women sprinting towards Bella this weekend. The college hit took in $1.27M, off 51%, for a $61.1M cume. Also falling hard was the Kevin James comedy Here Comes the Boom with $1.2M, down 54%, for a $41M cume for Sony.

A pair of films launched in limited release hoping for prolonged runs that lead to healthy box office plus plenty of Oscar nominations. The bigger bow came from Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence which grossed $443,003 from 16 theaters for a solid $27,688 average. The Weinstein Co. release won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival this fall and is seen as a possible Best Picture contender. Reviews were sensational and the distributor goes wider on Wednesday into 400 additional theaters for the long turkey weekend aiming for sophisticated adults.

Keira Knightley's latest costume drama Anna Karenina opened in 16 locations as well and collected $320,690 this weekend for a good $20,043 average. Focus will be taking a slower approach to its roll-out and widen to 64 total theaters this Wednesday including an expansion into a dozen new markets. Reviews have been positive but not exactly glowing.

The top ten films surged to $240.5M which was up 13% from last year when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 debuted at number one with $138.1M; and up 30% from 2010 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 opened on top with $125M.

Compared to projections, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 opened below my $148M forecast while Lincoln debuted ahead of my $13M prediction.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Watch the NEW trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful.

For a NEW review of Breaking Dawn Part 2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Rise of the Guardians, Life of Pi, and Red Dawn all open.

# Title Nov 16 - 18 Nov 9 - 11 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 $ 141,067,634 4,070 1 $ 34,660 $ 141,067,634 Summit
2 Skyfall 41,104,513 88,364,714 -53.5 3,505 2 11,727 160,941,621 Sony
3 Lincoln 21,049,406 944,308 1,775 2 11,859 22,468,242 Disney
4 Wreck-It Ralph 18,582,937 33,012,796 -43.7 3,622 3 5,131 121,750,227 Disney
5 Flight 8,802,881 14,785,097 -40.5 2,612 3 3,370 61,523,691 Paramount
6 Argo 4,046,366 6,617,229 -38.9 2,210 6 1,831 91,998,846 Warner Bros.
7 Taken 2 2,126,620 4,012,829 -47.0 2,063 7 1,031 134,651,009 Fox
8 Jab Tak Hai Jaan 1,283,585 160 1 8,022 1,941,805 Yash Raj
9 Pitch Perfect 1,267,855 2,573,350 -50.7 1,122 8 1,130 61,084,213 Universal
10 Here Comes the Boom 1,172,656 2,522,790 -53.5 1,350 6 869 40,991,671 Sony
11 Hotel Transylvania 942,921 2,400,226 -60.7 1,248 8 756 142,734,519 Sony
12 Cloud Atlas 929,229 2,658,250 -65.0 920 4 1,010 24,923,132 Warner Bros.
13 The Sessions 910,504 545,550 66.9 516 5 1,765 2,813,938 Fox Searchlight
14 The Man with the Iron Fists 718,905 2,592,705 -72.3 910 3 790 14,681,880 Universal
15 The Perks of Being a Wallflower 585,179 1,132,924 -48.3 511 9 1,145 15,572,283 Summit
16 Sinister 456,027 1,524,448 -70.1 789 6 578 47,451,277 Lionsgate
17 Silver Linings Playbook 443,003 16 1 27,688 443,003 Weinstein Co.
18 Paranormal Activity 4 383,755 1,980,033 -80.6 850 5 451 53,504,598 Paramount
19 Son of Sardaar 341,552 109 1 3,134 463,167 Eros
20 Anna Karenina 320,690 16 1 20,043 320,690 Focus
Top 5 $ 230,607,371 $ 146,792,665 57.1
Top 10 240,504,453 159,539,986 50.7
Top 20 246,536,218 169,667,380 45.3
Top 20 vs. 2011 246,536,218 218,577,367 12.8

Last Updated: November 19, 2012 at 5:00PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.