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.

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

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.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Nov 27 - 29 Nov 20 - 22 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $ 42,870,031 $ 142,839,137 -70.0 4,042 2 $ 10,606 $ 230,947,696 Summit
2 The Blind Side 40,111,364 34,119,372 17.6 3,140 2 12,774 100,238,841 Warner Bros.
3 2012 17,651,729 26,410,206 -33.2 3,444 3 5,125 138,451,427 Sony
4 Old Dogs 16,894,511 3,425 1 4,933 24,228,546 Buena Vista
5 A Christmas Carol 15,758,273 12,275,024 28.4 3,013 4 5,230 104,927,816 Buena Vista
6 Ninja Assassin 13,316,158 2,503 1 5,320 21,193,565 Warner Bros.
7 Planet 51 10,218,641 12,286,129 -16.8 3,035 2 3,367 28,487,409 Sony
8 Precious 7,081,032 10,881,772 -34.9 663 4 10,680 32,433,482 Lionsgate
9 Fantastic Mr. Fox 6,965,267 203,512 2,033 3 3,426 10,024,072 Fox
10 The Road 1,502,231 111 1 13,534 1,977,453 Weinstein Co.
11 The Men Who Stare At Goats 1,501,837 2,829,031 -46.9 1,119 4 1,342 30,521,930 Overture
12 Boondock Saints II 1,301,197 599,257 117.1 373 5 3,488 5,722,723 Apparition
13 Pirate Radio 989,260 1,460,592 -32.3 478 3 2,070 6,830,855 Focus
14 Couples Retreat 960,995 1,943,075 -50.5 862 8 1,115 106,700,205 Universal
15 An Education 911,388 826,755 10.2 265 8 3,439 5,563,649 Sony Classics
16 This Is It 828,976 1,617,417 -48.7 576 5 1,439 71,844,424 Sony
17 Law Abiding Citizen 786,534 1,606,053 -51.0 584 7 1,347 71,505,530 Overture
18 The Princess & the Frog 786,190 2 1 393,095 1,216,860 Buena Vista
19 The Fourth Kind 618,265 1,747,085 -64.6 552 4 1,120 24,405,935 Universal
20 De Dana Dan 577,381 69 1 8,368 742,377 Eros
Top 5 $ 133,285,908 $ 227,929,868 -41.5
Top 10 172,369,237 246,948,248 -30.2
Top 20 181,631,260 255,278,182 -28.8
Top 20 vs. 2008 181,631,260 158,992,036 14.2

Last Updated: November 30, 2009 at 6:30PM ET