Weekend Box Office (December 4 - 6, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Audiences across North America cheered on Sandra Bullock as she defeated all her opponents to clinch the number one spot at the box office with her runaway hit drama The Blind Side which spent the last two weeks in second place. Flip flopping positions, The Twilight Saga: New Moon finished in the runnerup spot while new releases were met with moderate to dismal results. It was typical for the frame as the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday session always sees huge declines and unimpressive openings from new titles. But overall, the marketplace remained strong with sales up double digits over last year and 2007.

Crowd favorite Sandra Bullock scored her second number one of the year with The Blind Side which climbed from second to first place with $20M, according to final studio figures, for a relatively light 50% decline. Films usually drop by more than 55% on this particular weekend. After 17 days, the Warner Bros. release has banked an impressive $128.9M and has a good chance of rushing past the $200M mark once the holiday season passes. That would make Blind one of the top ten blockbusters of the year and the biggest hit of Bullock's career surpassing the $164M of last summer's The Proposal.

The pigskin pic also delivered the best gross for a number one film over this post-turkey frame since 2003 when The Last Samurai debuted on top with $24.3M. And it's another overachiever for Warner Bros. following the summer smash The Hangover and Gran Torino which went wide in early January which both performed well above expectations for the studio which ranks number one in market share by a comfortable margin with a staggering $1.9 billion in sales year to date.

Following its two-week reign at number one, The Twilight Saga: New Moon slipped to second place with $15.4M dropping a hefty 64% in its third session. This followed its 70% plunge in the sophomore frame. The teen wolves and vampires have now taken in a stellar $255.4M in just 17 days of release breaking the quarter-billion mark on Saturday in only its sixteenth day of play. New Moon is the sixth biggest blockbuster of 2009 and will surpass the $257.7M of Star Trek this week to make the top five. A final tally in the vicinity of $300M is still possible. Overseas, Edward and pals remained red hot pulling in an estimated $40.7M to propel the international cume to $314.5M and the global haul to $570M.

Lionsgate saw a solid debut for its soldier drama Brothers which led all new releases with a third place bow of $9.5M. The R-rated film played in 2,088 theaters and averaged a commendable $4,563 per site. Brothers stars Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman and attracted decent reviews. It was the best opening on the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday frame since Aeon Flux's $12.7M from 2005.

With the Santa holiday approaching, Jim Carrey's A Christmas Carol showed good legs dropping 51% - a solid showing for this particular weekend - to $7.8M climbing up one spot. Disney's other family offering Old Dogs fared worse tumbling 59% to $6.9M. Totals are $115.2M and $33.9M, respectively.

A pair of films from Sony followed with $6.8M and $6.5M, respectively. The disaster flick 2012 fell a steep 62% in its fourth round and upped its domestic total to $149M. Overseas, the Roland Emmerich smash grossed another $35M boosting the international total past the half-billion mark to $517.5M. The worldwide tally is now a staggering $666M with a whopping 78% of the gross coming from outside of North America. Sony's new action film Armored was met with a quiet opening averaging a weak $3,400 from 1,915 locations. The audience was 51% male and 61% over 25.

Competing action title Ninja Assassin stumbled 62% in its second weekend to $5.1M putting the 12-day take at $29.8M for Warner Bros. Sony followed with its animated release Planet 51 which collected $4.4M, down 57%, for a meager $34.1M sum.

Miramax saw dismal results for its Robert De Niro pic Everybody's Fine which was dumped into the marketplace with little fanfare and debuted in tenth with $3.9M. The PG-13 film averaged a terrible $1,806 from 2,133 sites and marks the beginning of the end for the once-dominant indie distrib which has now laid off almost all of its staff.

Paramount generated sensational results for its limited bow of the Oscar contender Up in the Air which grossed $1.2M from only 15 theaters for a scorching $78,763 average. Directed by Jason Reitman, the George Clooney-starrer took advantage of the publicity it created on Thursday when the National Board of Review named it the best picture of 2009. The R-rated film expands further on Friday and goes nationwide on Christmas Day when the studio hopes the pic will have enough buzz to make it sell to a broad audience.

On the complete opposite end of the box office spectrum, the college comedy Transylmania suffered one of the worst wide releases of all-time opening in 1,007 locations to a microscopic $263,941 for a pathetic $262 average. That means on average, each showtime over the weekend attracted only three people. The R-rated pic was released by Full Circle.

Disney enjoyed a terrific hold for its animated film The Princess & the Frog which remained in only two theaters for a second weekend. With its higher-than-normal ticket prices, the G-rated film grossed $747,710 for a stunning $373,855 average, off a tiny 5% from the previous frame which was a holiday. This bodes well for the national expansion this Friday when Frog leaps into over 3,300 sites.

The top ten films grossed $86.2M which was up 17% from last year when Four Christmases remained in the top spot with $16.8M; and up 27% from 2007 when Enchanted stayed at number one with $16.4M.

Compared to projections, Brothers opened ahead of my $6M forecast while Armored was close to my $8M prediction. Everybody's Fine also debuted close to my $5M projection while Transylmania fell below my $2M 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 a NEW review of The Princess and the Frog visit The Chief Report.

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

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

# Title Dec 4 - 6 Nov 27 - 29 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Blind Side $ 20,043,181 $ 40,111,364 -50.0 3,326 3 $ 6,026 $ 128,867,559 Warner Bros.
2 The Twilight Saga: New Moon 15,427,628 42,870,031 -64.0 4,124 3 3,741 255,363,052 Summit
3 Brothers 9,527,848 2,088 1 4,563 9,527,848 Lionsgate
4 A Christmas Carol 7,763,244 15,758,273 -50.7 2,546 5 3,049 115,249,331 Buena Vista
5 Old Dogs 6,892,265 16,894,511 -59.2 3,425 2 2,012 33,924,385 Buena Vista
6 2012 6,771,665 17,651,729 -61.6 3,220 4 2,103 148,958,486 Sony
7 Armored 6,511,128 1,915 1 3,400 6,511,128 Sony
8 Ninja Assassin 5,061,499 13,316,158 -62.0 2,503 2 2,022 29,821,996 Warner Bros.
9 Planet 51 4,386,873 10,218,641 -57.1 2,904 3 1,511 34,052,876 Sony
10 Everybody's Fine 3,852,068 2,133 1 1,806 3,852,068 Miramax
11 Fantastic Mr. Fox 2,918,331 6,965,267 -58.1 2,034 4 1,435 14,084,495 Fox
12 Precious 2,282,077 7,081,032 -67.8 664 5 3,437 36,252,012 Lionsgate
13 Up in the Air 1,181,450 15 1 78,763 1,181,450 Paramount
14 Boondock Saints II 922,623 1,301,197 -29.1 432 6 2,136 6,994,980 Apparition
15 The Road 749,535 1,502,231 -50.1 128 2 5,856 3,194,349 Weinstein Co.
16 The Princess & the Frog 747,710 786,190 -4.9 2 2 373,855 2,410,810 Buena Vista
17 The Men Who Stare At Goats 400,153 1,501,837 -73.4 509 5 786 31,289,229 Overture
18 Pirate Radio 333,475 989,260 -66.3 285 4 1,170 7,383,803 Focus
19 Couples Retreat 313,005 960,995 -67.4 432 9 725 107,233,200 Universal
20 Transylmania 263,941 1,007 1 262 263,941 Full Circle
Top 5 $ 59,654,166 $ 133,285,908 -55.2
Top 10 86,237,399 172,369,237 -50.0
Top 20 96,349,699 181,631,260 -47.0
Top 20 vs. 2008 96,349,699 79,768,765 20.8

Last Updated: December 7, 2009 at 5:45PM ET