Weekend Box Office (December 3 - 5, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The annual post-turkey blues kicked in as the North American box office plunged with the Top 20 dropping by 53% from last week's Thanksgiving holiday. The action entry The Warrior's Way was the only new wide release and was dead on arrival landing in ninth place. Last weekend's top two choices swapped positions as all films suffered steep declines. Overall, ticket sales slumped to the second lowest point of 2010 as moviegoers found almost nothing to be excitied about or worth paying top dollar for. Outside of the top two films, no wide release averaged more than $2,500 this weekend.

Rising from second to first place, Disney's 3D animated film Tangled reigned over a slow frame with $21.6M, according to final studio figures. The Rapunzel tale dropped by an understandable 56% in its second weekend as it came off of a long holiday weekend debut. The Mouse House has collected a strong $96.6M after 12 days. Three years ago, the studio led with its princess pic Enchanted which fell 52% after Thanksgiving to $16.4M which was enough to claim the box office crown that weekend. It went on to reach $127.8M.

Tangled scored the best gross for a number one film on the weekend after the turkey holiday since 2003 when The Last Samurai opened to $24.3M. The Tom Cruise period film was also the last new release to open atop the charts this particular frame. With a busy December movie month ahead, Tangled could make it through the holiday season to the $170M mark.

Dropping down to second place after two weeks on top was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 which took in $17M in its third round falling a steep 65%. Suffering the worst decline of any wide release, the Warner Bros. smash still raised its 17-day total to $244.5M putting it 6.6% ahead of the $229.3M that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire collected during the same period in 2005. Compared to the last two wizard flicks which both bowed on July Wednesdays, Hallows is running 6.4% ahead of 2007's Order of the Phoenix but 0.4% behind 2009's Half-Blood Prince.

Goblet, which banked a better $19.9M in its third frame which was also the first session of December, went on to add three times that amount to its cume as it played through the holidays. Should Hallows perform in a similar manner over the weeks ahead, it would end its domestic run with roughly $295M. Overseas the seventh Harry pic was still going strong, though burning through its upfront audience quickly. The international take fell by 53% to an estimated $54.4M from 62 territories bumping the total to $469.1M and the worldwide tally to a healthy $713M. Breaking $930M like the last two installments should be possible.

Sony's Christina Aguilera-Cher musical Burlesque dropped 49% putting its 12-day sum at $27M. The critically-panned drama will try to end its run with $40M beating out the disappointing $29.1M that the studio collected with its 2005 Thanksgiving musical offering Rent. But factoring in the 600 extra theaters and higher ticket prices for Burlesque, both films will end up selling about the same number of tickets per location. Denzel Washington's non-musical train thriller Unstoppable collected $6M thanks to a 48% decline and upped its cume to $68.8M for Fox.

Sliding 42% to $5.7M was the Viagra comedy Love and Other Drugs starring Jake Gyllenhaal and new Oscar host Anne Hathaway. Fox has taken in $22.6M in 12 days and could be headed for a $35M finish. Paramount followed with the 3D toon Megamind which tumbled 61% to $4.9M for a $136.6M cume to date.

The road trip comedy Due Date held up well dipping 42% to $4.1M bumping the total to $90.9M. The Warner Bros. title will soon become the fifth $100M+ blockbuster over the last two-and-a-half years for Robert Downey Jr. He had none during his entire acting career before 2008. On the other hand, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson may end up with the lowest-grossing film of his career with the action film Faster which dropped 54% to $3.9M for $18.2M in 12 days. It should finish its run in the vicinity of the former wrestler's worst-performing film Doom which grossed $28M in 2005. That pic did open at number one, though.

Only one box office contender opened in wide release this weekend, the stylish martial arts Western The Warrior's Way, which performed poorly grossing $3M from 1,622 locations for a dull $1,880 average. Barely breaking into the top ten over a remarkably slow weekend, the R-rated actioner mixed historical Asian swordplay with Old West shootouts and starred Jang Dong-gun, Geoffrey Rush, and Kate Bosworth. This was the first release from Relativity Media as an independent distributor after its takeover of Overture Films, but was set up as a rent-a-system deal minimizing its exposure. Way cost a meaty $42M to produce and hopes to recover that from markets around the world, especially Korea where the lead actor is a major box office draw. Domestic audiences were 65% male and 65% over 25. Reviews were mixed and the CinemaScore grade from paying moviegoers was a poor C- meaning this warrior has a short way to go before hitting DVD.

Rounding out the top ten was Russell Crowe's The Next Three Days which grossed $2.6M, down 45%, for a weak $18.3M thus far.

With the big boys mostly on the sidelines this weekend, a number of specialty films launched in limited release hoping that awards attention will translate into dollars with arthouse audiences. Making a spectacular debut was Natalie Portman's Black Swan which bowed in only 18 locations but grossed $1.4M for a sensational $80,212 average. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the R-rated ballet thriller built up buzz at a handful of the industry's top film festivals heading into its limited opening and will expand to about 60 theaters on Friday. Reviews were very good and most are expecting Portman to be a major contender for the Best Actress Academy Award. Swan stands a chance of cracking the top ten next weekend.

The much-delayed Jim Carrey-Ewan McGregor comedy I Love You, Phillip Morris enjoyed a solid debut with $112,520 from six sites for a $18,753 average. Released by Roadside Attractions, the R-rated film about a con man that falls in love with a fellow inmate in prison earned good marks from critics and will gradually expand throughout December ahead of a January 7 wide release.

Following a very successful VOD run, the Ryan Gosling-Kirsten Dunst mystery All Good Things opened to impressive numbers at a pair of major Manhattan arthouses grossing $37,172 for a $18,586 average. Los Angeles and Washington DC get the Magnolia film this Friday even though it is available on demand across the country. The company has been a pioneer in mixing VOD and theatrical platforms to make the most coin with its titles. Reviews were lukewarm.

The top ten films grossed $75M which was down 13% from last year when The Blind Side climbed into the top spot with $20M; but up 2% from 2008 when Four Christmases stayed at number one with $16.8M.

Compared to projections, The Warrior's Way opened below my $7M forecast.

Check the box office chart for the Top December Openings. Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a review of Black Swan visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Tourist both open nationwide.

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

# Title Dec 3 - 5 Nov 26 - 28 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Tangled $ 21,608,891 $ 48,767,052 -55.7 3,603 2 $ 5,997 $ 96,570,812 Buena Vista
2 Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Part 1 17,018,475 49,087,101 -65.3 4,125 3 4,126 244,519,116 Warner Bros.
3 Burlesque 6,130,061 11,947,744 -48.7 3,037 2 2,018 26,986,656 Sony
4 Unstoppable 5,970,194 11,432,903 -47.8 3,152 4 1,894 68,762,864 Fox
5 Love and Other Drugs 5,652,810 9,739,161 -42.0 2,458 2 2,300 22,574,887 Fox
6 Megamind 4,936,851 12,575,778 -60.7 3,173 5 1,556 136,611,161 Paramount
7 Due Date 4,133,286 7,167,885 -42.3 2,450 5 1,687 90,882,138 Warner Bros.
8 Faster 3,934,600 8,523,153 -53.8 2,470 2 1,593 18,217,730 CBS
9 The Warrior's Way 3,048,665 1,622 1 1,880 3,048,665 Relativity
10 The Next Three Days 2,570,908 4,683,123 -45.1 2,236 3 1,150 18,301,917 Lionsgate
11 Morning Glory 1,681,759 3,910,058 -57.0 2,263 4 743 29,011,482 Paramount
12 127 Hours 1,619,138 1,708,883 -5.3 433 5 3,739 6,611,762 Fox Searchlight
13 Black Swan 1,443,809 18 1 80,212 1,443,809 Fox Searchlight
14 Fair Game 970,358 1,560,189 -37.8 436 5 2,226 7,306,442 Summit
15 Red 750,940 1,375,685 -45.4 779 8 964 87,170,912 Summit
16 For Colored Girls... 444,403 1,362,287 -67.4 485 5 916 37,252,023 Lionsgate
17 Skyline 436,855 1,141,440 -61.7 578 4 756 20,955,395 Universal
18 The Social Network 404,456 707,153 -42.8 260 10 1,556 90,970,123 Sony
19 The King's Speech 324,515 355,450 -8.7 6 2 54,086 807,973 Weinstein Co.
20 Secretariat 256,739 647,172 -60.3 402 9 639 57,946,337 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 56,380,431 $ 133,810,578 -57.9
Top 10 75,004,741 167,833,958 -55.3
Top 20 83,337,713 177,446,195 -53.0
Top 20 vs. 2009 83,337,713 96,349,699 -13.5

Last Updated: December 6, 2010 at 4:40PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.