Weekend Box Office (November 23 - 25, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The box office bounced back over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend as moviegoers spread their dollars across a wide variety of films which collectively helped to bring the marketplace back to life after a mostly uneventful fall season. Disney led the way with its new family pic Enchanted which ruled the multiplexes, but a surprisingly potent opening for the holiday comedy This Christmas contributed to the weekend's success too. Other new releases were sprinkled across the top ten which virtually matched the Thanksgiving numbers posted over each of the last two years. An unprecedented eleven films each grossed more than $7M over the frame as every audience segment found something to see over the long holiday weekend.

For the first time in eight years, Disney opened a new release at number one over the turkey frame. The studio's princess tale Enchanted powered past all competitors to bow on top with $34.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures, and an incredible $49.1M across the five-day holiday span which began on Wednesday. That led to a muscular $9,233 average from an ultrawide 3,730 sites over three days.

The PG-rated story of an animated princess who encounters the live-action world posted the second biggest five-day opening ever over the Thanksgiving session. The only hit to debut better was 1999's Toy Story 2 from Disney and Pixar with $80.1M which was also the studio's last new pic to bow at number one over this frame. From 1994 to 1999, the Mouse House consistently debuted a new family film each year at number one over this lucrative holiday frame. Enchanted should have no problem finding its way into the century club.

Beating expectations to open in the number two spot was the family reunion film This Christmas which debuted to $18M over three days and a stunning $26.3M over the five-day period. Sony's inexpensive $13M production averaged a potent $9,665 over three days from only 1,858 theaters for the best average among wide releases. The feel-good holiday pic brought in two-thirds of its business from African-American moviegoers proving once again how powerful that audience is at the box office. Look for This Christmas to finish up as a very profitable venture.

Last week's top warrior Beowulf dropped 40% to $16.5M and landed in third place. With $56.6M in its treasure chest after ten days, the $150M-budgeted Paramount release should conclude its domestic run with about $80-90M.

Competing actioner Hitman debuted in fourth place with $13.2M over three days from 2,458 locations. Averaging a decent $5,362 per venue, the R-rated film about a super-assassin was adapted from a popular video game. Over five days, Hitman shot up $21.1M for Fox which was targeting many of the same young males that were going to see Beowulf.

The animated hit Bee Movie followed in fifth with $11.8M, off just 16%, for a $111.9M sum to date for Paramount. Warner Bros. was close behind with rival family offering Fred Claus which dipped 11% to $10.6M pushing the total to $52.9M.

Studio stablemate August Rush opened in seventh place with $9.4M over three days and $13.2M across five days. The family drama about a young musical genius averaged a moderate $4,079 over the Friday-to-Sunday period. American Gangster remained strong in its fourth frame grossing $9M, down 30%, upping its cume for Universal to $115.6M.

The Mist, a terror tale based on a Stephen King story, debuted in ninth place with $8.9M with a five-day take of $12.9M. Attacking 2,423 theaters, the R-rated film averaged a mild $3,686 over three days. Horror films typically do not see huge numbers over Thanksgiving weekend as most moviegoers are in the mood for more cheery and upbeat films. Fox's kidpic Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium ranked tenth with $7.9M, down 18%, leaving the film with $22.2M after ten days.

Miramax expanded its Coen brothers hit No Country For Old Men into nationwide release and captured $7.8M over three days. The crime thriller averaged a superb $9,043 and lifted its total to $16.3M.

Opening to solid results from the arthouses was the Bob Dylan pic I'm Not There which grossed $730,819 from just 130 venues over the three-day period. The Weinsein Co. release averaged a respectable $5,622 per site and collected just under $1M over the long holiday session.

The top ten films grossed $139.8M over the weekend which was off less than 1% from last year when Happy Feet remained at number one with $37M; and down 2% from 2005 when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire stayed on top with $54.7M.

Compared to projections, Enchanted opened ahead of my three-day forecast of $30M while This Christmas powered well north of my $8M prediction. Hitman was on target with my $13M projection while August Rush was ahead of my $5M forecast. The Mist and No Country For Old Men both debuted close to my respective predictions of $10M and $7M.

For reviews of Beowulf and Nina's Heavenly Delights, and NEW DVD reviews of The Namesake and Hot Rod, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Awake debuts.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Nov 23 - 25 Nov 16 - 18 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Enchanted $ 34,440,317 3,730 1 $ 9,233 $ 49,060,281 Buena Vista
2 This Christmas 17,958,183 1,858 1 9,665 26,341,492 Sony
3 Beowulf 16,538,666 27,515,871 -39.9 3,218 2 5,139 56,633,821 Paramount
4 Hitman 13,180,769 2,458 1 5,362 21,094,148 Fox
5 Bee Movie 11,813,502 14,008,444 -15.7 3,507 4 3,369 111,860,810 Paramount
6 Fred Claus 10,575,400 11,914,323 -11.2 3,603 3 2,935 52,869,835 Warner Bros.
7 August Rush 9,421,369 2,310 1 4,079 13,243,069 Warner Bros.
8 American Gangster 9,013,925 12,875,250 -30.0 2,799 4 3,220 115,550,290 Universal
9 The Mist 8,931,973 2,423 1 3,686 12,861,800 MGM
10 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium 7,936,035 9,630,085 -17.6 3,168 2 2,505 22,179,439 Fox
11 No Country For Old Men 7,776,773 3,075,722 152.8 860 3 9,043 16,313,580 Miramax
12 Dan in Real Life 3,016,800 4,343,185 -30.5 1,502 5 2,009 42,177,151 Buena Vista
13 Lions For Lambs 1,163,124 2,896,594 -59.8 1,527 3 762 13,795,571 MGM
14 Love in the Time of Cholera 966,983 1,924,860 -49.8 852 2 1,135 3,504,615 New Line
15 Before the Devil Knows You're Dead 930,080 696,189 33.6 260 5 3,577 3,437,199 ThinkFilm
16 Bella 736,513 1,025,753 -28.2 354 5 2,081 6,190,011 Roadside Attr.
17 I'm Not There 730,819 130 1 5,622 974,601 Weinstein Co.
18 Into the Wild 708,069 862,534 -17.9 354 10 2,000 15,001,671 Par. Vantage
19 Michael Clayton 536,049 1,037,020 -48.3 301 8 1,781 38,042,902 Warner Bros.
20 Saw IV 426,189 2,248,805 -81.0 531 5 803 62,850,782 Lionsgate
Top 5 $ 93,931,437 $ 75,943,973 23.7
Top 10 139,810,139 90,433,139 54.6
Top 20 156,801,538 99,420,804 57.7
Top 20 vs. 2006 156,801,538 157,067,077 -0.2

Last Updated: November 26, 2007 at 9:00PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.