Here’s your five-day holiday box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II – $ 64.0 million
2. Skyfall – $ 51.1 million
3. Lincoln – $ 34.0 million
4. Rise of the Guardians – $ 32.6 million
5. Life of Pi – $ 30.1 million
6. Wreck-It Ralph – $ 23.0 million
7. Red Dawn – $ 22.0 million
8. Flight – $ 11.3 million
9. Silver Linings Playbook – $ 5.9 million
10 . Argo – $ 5.1 million
The Big Stories
Another piece on the road to the biggest box office year in history came into play over the holiday. 2009 is the year that 2012 is trying to beat, and after boasting three of the highest-grossing films in U.S. history (The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games), it has now bested the Thanksgiving five-day holiday record set three years ago. $ 287 million vs. $ 258.6 million, and the pace continues by the estimated grosses for the rest of the year that we are projecting. One new opening, though, may have thrown a slight wrinkle into those estimates and it will be up to the other films to earn your first ticket or repeat viewing in order for 2012 to come out on top.
Despite Comparisons, Rise of the Guardians Is No Avengers
A new film has not opened in the number-one spot over the Thanksgiving holiday since 2008 (Four Christmases). In fact, only twice since 2004. Disney has pretty much owned this period in the past with 10 of the 12 best five-day openers belonging to the studio. Its big player this month has been Wreck-It Ralph, which is on the verge of crossing the $ 150 million mark. Still impressive is its placement among films during this period entering their fourth weekend of release.
The Incredibles ($ 32.8 million), Monsters Inc. ($ 32.5), Elf ($ 30.9), Wreck-It Ralph ($ 23.0), A Christmas Carol ($ 22.1), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($ 19.1), Megamind ($ 17.3), Chicken Little ($ 16.8), Bee Movie ($ 15.7), Borat ($ 15.2)
Not a bad tally at all after four weeks. The same cannot be said for Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians. A film that should have been a slam dunk with the teaming of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and all the mythical heroes of childhood teaming up to fight the Boogeyman and somehow the studio marketing machine never quite found a way to sell it to audiences. More recent ads have focused away from the heroes and on the wacky, funny-looking, speechless elves. (Despicable Me, anyone?) The film still bested all of the newcomers this week, but barely, and its placement amongst family films released at this time is equally unimpressive.
Toy Story 2 ($ 80.1), Tangled ($ 68.7), Enchanted ($ 49.0), A Bug’s Life ($ 45.7), 101 Dalmatians (1996) ($ 45.0), The Muppets ($ 41.5), Toy Story ($ 39.0), Flubber ($ 35.8), The Haunted Mansion ($ 34.0), Rise of the Guardians ($ 32.6)
That’s right. Santa Claus and his pack of animated avengers could never even best Eddie Murphy in an adaptation of a Disneyland ride. These are numbers that can’t exactly please Dreamworks as the film finished 18th among family films over the five-day holiday. Just amongst its own kind though…
Kung Fu Panda ($ 60.2 million), Monsters vs. Aliens ($ 59.3), Megamind ($ 46.0), How to Train Your Dragon ($ 43.7), Over the Hedge ($ 38.4), Bee Movie ($ 38.0), Flushed Away ($ 18.8)
Those are the animated releases in the Paramount era of Dreamworks. More specifically, the originals and not the sequels. Rise of the Guardians‘ $ 32.6 million over five days could not even best the top six’s three-day haul. Only four of the top 10 family openers above over Thanksgiving have multiplied out to more than three times their five-day tally. The poor Muppets from last year barely managed to double theirs. Even with Toy Story‘s terrific 4.90 multiplier, the nine films above Rise of the Guardians still only averaged out to 2.99x their holiday opening. That would put it at just under $ 100 million. Hopefully the “European division” gag in the film will help with overseas sales.
Icons Rule The Holiday
Bond, Lincoln and Swullen could not be bothered by the newbies this holiday. Breaking Dawn Part II was right in line with the second-weekend drops of this period falling in between New Moon’s $ 66.2 million (53.6% drop) and Part I from last year doing $ 61.8 million (55.2% drop). Worldwide the final chapter has squeezed another $ 577 million out of Twilight fans (about 81% of the first part’s gross to date.) The James Bond numbers are even more impressive though. Of the 37 other films to reach $ 200 million in 15 days or less, only seven have not gone on to gross $ 300 million domestically. Three of them were Harry Potter films. New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part I were two of the others with Part II‘s final gross pending. Over this holiday the last five Bond films have done:
Skyfall ($ 51.1 million), Die Another Day ($ 46.0), Casino Royale ($ 44.8), The World Is Not Enough ($ 34.0), Quantum of Solace ($ 27.4)
The middle three on that list were still on their second weekend. Like Quantum of Solace, Skyfall is in its third and bested the whole lot as it hits the top five of worldwide grossers in 2012 and makes an outside run at a cool billion. New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part I both dropped over 60% the weekend after Thanksgiving. The last five Bond films in play at this time dropped an average of 55.8%. There is a very good chance that Skyfall will reclaim the number-one spot at the box office next week if Lincoln doesn’t beat it to the punch.
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is doing extraordinary business with reports of sold out shows across the country. By this time next week it will have outgrossed BOTH of his 2011 releases (War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin which did $ 79 & $ 77 million, respectively). When Spielberg has strayed from the kind of blockbuster mentality his name is often synonymous with, the results have been varied over the years.
Saving Private Ryan ($ 216.5 million), Catch Me If You Can ($ 164.6), The Color Purple ($ 98.4), Schindler’s List ($ 96.0), War Horse ($ 79.8), A.I.: Artificial Intelligence ($ 78.6), The Terminal ($ 77.8), Munich ($ 47.4), Amistad ($ 44.2), Always ($ 43.8), Empire of the Sun ($ 22.2)
Box office or not, five of those 11 titles went on to become Best Picture nominees, part of eight on Spielberg’s directorial resume. While it marches towards $ 100 million, the 15th of his career (out of 27 films) — and may be the film to surprise at number one next week — Lincoln could just be the film to beat for Best Picture at the Oscars.
How Strong Were the Other Openers?
While Rise of the Guardians was a clear disappointment, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi had a very solid opening with $ 22 million over the weekend and over $ 30.1 for the five-day.The remake of Red Dawn is more than halfway to the 1984 original’s $ 38.3 million, but may not go much further than that.
As for limited releases, Fox Searchlight’s Hitchcock debuted to $ 300,799 on just 17 screens. Not terrible but not inspiring either as it ranks 48th on debuts on under 20 theaters. Expanding into just 367 theaters is David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, and we say “just” because this may be another case of the Weinstein’s missing the boat on one of their releases. Perhaps a bit gun-shy after jumping up The Master another 783 screens in its second weekend in September, but who knows just how much money they left off the table in a week when people clearly headed to the theaters to see some adult-oriented fare. Silver Linings did about as much as The Master did over the weekend and is ahead of its pace, but it is already behind the film it should look to be chasing, which is Alexander Payne’s The Descendants.
Both films were immediately harkened as Oscar contenders out of Toronto. Some were even ready to jump the gun that each were frontrunners. (Silver Linings is a number four at best right now.) Last year on the same weekend, The Descendants grossed $ 9.3 million on just 390 screens (expanded up from 29) and was at $ 10.8 million compared to Silver Linings‘ $ 6.4. Payne’s film grossed as much as $ 51.4 million prior to Oscar nomination morning without expanding to more than 878 screens in that time. $ 38.3 million of that was grossed by the end of 2011 and it finished with $ 82.5. Silver Linings is a far more cheerful and crowd-pleasing film. Yes, Bradley Cooper is no George Clooney. He’s not even Mark Wahlberg, whom he replaced as the lead in the film for less money. Jennifer Lawrence replaced Anne Hathaway in the film and now it looks as if each will be winning Oscars this year because of it.
We know that is what Harvey really cares about. Only four films in his new company’s history have grossed over $ 50 million and one of those was Hoodwinked. By comparison, Fox Searchlight has had six — all of them Best Picture nominees. The King’s Speech and Inglourious Basterds grossed over $ 120 million for the Weinstein Co. Its third best was the $ 90 million taken in by Scary Movie 4. The black-and-white silent The Artist is fifth all time for them with $ 44.6 million. Silver Linings Playbook is probably an easy $ 75 million grosser during this season under any other studio’s care. Will they be ignoring it once attention turns to Django Unchained at Christmas? If it fails to make $ 60 with a handful of awards buzz, someone needs to take a long look at its releases strategies.
– Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV’s First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]