Weekend Box Office (November 27 - 29, 2009)
by Gitesh Pandya
THIS WEEKEND Audiences feasted on leftovers and drove the North American box office to a new record for the busy Thanksgiving holiday frame. Moviegoers were almost evenly split been vampire love and football heroics as The Twilight Saga: New Moon remained at number one while Sandra Bullock's The Blind Side held steady in second place with just $2.8M separating the two. That was a far cry from the $108.7M gap between the pair last weekend when they both opened as Twilight tumbled and Blind Side rose this weekend. The disaster film 2012 placed third as no new release managed to make it into the top three. The Top 20 over Thanksgiving weekend has consistently delivered $150-160M over the last six years but this time it soared to $181M, a new industry high.
Just as with its predecessor one year ago, The Twilight Saga: New Moon suffered a massive sophomore fall dropping 70% to $42.9M, according to final studio figures, which was still good enough to rule the holiday frame. Summit's teen soap opera averaged $10,606 from 4,042 theaters and boosted its ten-day total to an amazing $230.9M making it the sixth largest blockbuster of 2009. Over the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday period, New Moon took in $66M.
Last year's Twilight also suffered a steep second weekend decline falling 62% before settling in during the month of December with drops of 51%, 39%, 35%, and 9%. New Moon certainly took advantage of intense upfront demand with its record opening weekend, and will now see if it can still sustain much business with the debut and the holiday frames both over. A domestic tally north of $300M is likely depending on how it fares around Christmastime.
Overseas, the Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle was still the top draw pulling in an estimated $85.1M from 56 territories. The international cume leaped to $243M pushing the global gross in less than two weeks to a sensational $474M. Produced for $50M, the female-skewing pic will easily gross more than $600M worldwide with the highly-anticipated third installment releasing in June.
As the vampire saga tumbled from last weekend's gross, the football hit The Blind Side enjoyed a strong spike in ticket sales rising 18% to $40.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Still in second place, the Sandra Bullock raked in an amazing $57.5M over five days to propel its cume into nine-digit territory. Warner Bros. has banked an impressive $100.2M in ten days and still has much more ahead of it. The feel-good story plus the football theme made it a popular choice with moviegoers over the holiday session. Bullock has now delivered two $100M hits this year as June's The Proposal, another film with solid legs, took in $164M. This has truly been a comeback year for the Speed star as she's been without a film reaching the century mark since 2000.
Audiences that like to see monuments crumble spent $17.7M on the disaster pic 2012 in its third frame dropping a reasonable 33% from last weekend. After 17 days, the Sony title has banked $138.5M domestically ranking number 17 for the year among blockbusters. Overseas, 2012 hauled in another $61.6M raising the international total to a stellar $455.8M and the global tally to a sensational $594M. Roland Emmerich's $200M-budgeted destruction flick now ranks fifth for the year worldwide.
John Travolta and Robin Williams joined forces for the Disney comedy Old Dogs and finished in fourth place with a decent but not strong $16.9M over three days. The PG-rated family entry faced stronger-than-expected competition from the star-driven Blind Side which has been playing broadly. Slammed by critics, Dogs averaged $4,933 from 3,425 theaters and made $24.2M over its five-day debut period. The five-day holiday bow was much lower than the $39.7M three-day non-holiday opening of Wild Hogs, Disney's previous Travolta vehicle from director Walt Becker. The studio can at least enjoy the fact that it had the top-grossing new release over the long Thanksgiving frame.
With moviegoers in a holiday mood, Disney's A Christmas Carol rose 28% to $15.8M in its fourth weekend to boost its cume to $104.9M. The five-day take was a solid $22.1M.
Opening in sixth place was the ultraviolent actioner Ninja Assassin which bowed to $13.3M over three days and $21.2M since its Wednesday debut. The Warner Bros. release averaged $5,320 from 2,503 sites over three days and offered young men some R-rated mayhem to counter the kidpic and female-skewing options out there. Assassin's performance was almost identical to the $13.2M opening and $21.1M five-day of 2007's Hitman, another stylish action pic aimed at guys over the turkey frame.
Sony's animated release Planet 51 dipped 17% to $10.2M raising the total to only $28.5M. The Lionsgate awards bait Precious declined by 35% to $7.1M for a $32.4M sum. Five-day grosses were $13.9M and $9.4M, respectively. Fox expanded Fantastic Mr. Fox nationwide after two weeks of platform play and wound up in ninth with $7M. The PG-rated toon averaged a weak $3,426 and will try to capture more business in the weeks ahead as word-of-mouth spreads for the high-brow family film. Competition for families was intense. Total is $10M to date.
Tenth place was taken by The Weinstein Company's The Road which opened to $1.5M. Playing in only 111 theaters, it averaged a strong $13,534 over three days. Its five-day bow was $2M and reviews were generally upbeat.
Disney platformed its animated offering The Princess & the Frog in solo houses in New York and Los Angeles with jacked up special event ticket prices leading to an eye-popping average. The G-rated toon grossed $786,190 from two locations over three days and $1.2M over the long five-day period. That translated to stunning averages of $393,095 and $608,430. The Mouse House takes Princess wide on December 11.
The top ten films grossed $172.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday span which was up 13% from last year when Four Christmases opened in the top spot with $31.1M; and up 23% from 2007's holiday when Enchanted debuted at number one with $34.4M.
Compared to projections, Old Dogs and Fantastic Mr. Fox both opened below my respective forecasts of $24M and $12M while Ninja Assassin debuted close to my $15M prediction.
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Check the UPDATED chart for the Top Hits of 2009. For reviews of The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Fantastic Mr. Fox visit The Chief Report.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Armored, Brothers, and Everybody's Fine all open.
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This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: November 30, 2009 at 6:30PM ET