November 24, 2012



Franchises and a former President may carry the weekend to record heights, but the newcomers stumbled.

OPENINGS:  RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) has the advantage of no new animated competition through the entire holiday season (Disney/Pixar is re-releasing a 3D conversion of Monsters Inc in mid-December), and it’s going to need that long runway, because initial results are dire.  The movie’s $9.3M Friday and $17.9M 3-day total (probably headed for less than $35M over 5 days) are significantly below last Thanksgiving’s $12.1M/$24.4M for The Muppets, and that picture only ended up grossing $88.6M at a far lower production cost.  The one bright spot is that Rise‘s 150% Friday bump was far better than Muppets’ 110%, perhaps indicating better word of mouth.

The numbers on LIFE OF PI (20th) are a mixed bag.  A $9M Friday and $17M Wed-Fri total (probably meaning a $22M 3-day weekend and $30M over 5 days) are better than many expected for the difficult to market film.  But Friday’s 97% bump was one of the worst in the Top 10, suggesting that initial word of mouth may be less positive than exit polls indicate.  With a $120M production cost (make that $250M+ with worldwide marketing), Pi still has a long way to go before is can float away from red ink.  On the plus side:  last year’s Hugo behaved similarly (at less than half as many theatres), with only a 92% bump the day after Thanksgiving, and that picture, boosted by critics awards and an adult audience, made it to 5x its initial 5-day boxoffice, which would be a healthy total for Pi if it can manage the same.

All things considered, it could have gone worse for RED DAWN (FilmDistrict), which has $13.4M in its pocket after 3 days, and is probably on its way to a $15M weekend and $22M by Sunday.  An ultimate $50M gross would at least be respectable for a bad movie that sat on the shelf for 3 years before opening.

The positive word of mouth it’s been waiting for may finally be kicking in for SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Weinstein), which at 367 theatres had the best Friday bump in the Top 10 at 162%.  It should have a $4M weekend and a $5M 5-day total, and while that still lags significantly compared to the parallel release of last year’s The Descendants (which had a $7.3M weekend and $9.4M over the 5 day holiday in 390 theatres last year, featuring a 156% Thursday-to-Friday increase), it’s at least moving in the right direction.  Descendants expanded in each of the 2 post-Thanksgiving weekends, and it’s not clear whether Weinstein plans to follow the same plan.

HOLDOVERS:  The real money this weekend came from the movies that were already in theatres.  THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2 (Summit/Lionsgate) should fall about 70% from last weekend’s gigantic take (par for the franchise’s frontloaded course), which will still give it a $43M weekend and $228M in the books (slightly ahead of Breaking Dawn 1, which had $221M after Thanksgiving weekend).  SKYFALL (Sony/MGM) should only be down 10-15% from last weekend.  By Sunday it could be close to $225M in the US, and having already been the first Bond to go over $200M here, it now looks likely to be the first to top $300M–all of this in addition, of course, to what is already more than $500M overseas.  LINCOLN (Disney/DreamWorks/20th) continues to impress, heading to a $25M weekend that will be up 20% from last week (with 10% more theatres).  It should outgross both of Steven Spielberg’s 2011 movies in the next week, and will almost certainly be over $100M by the holidays, when it faces its biggest challenge–the presumptive Oscar behemoth that is Les Miserables.

WRECK IT FALPH (Disney) and FLIGHT are both still selling a notable number of tickets, with $17M and $8.5M weekends likely, as they surge respectively past $150M and $75M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  HITCHCOCK (Fox Searchlight) is off to an unthrilling start, with a per-theatre average in 17 that probably won’t reach $20K for the weekend.  RUST AND BONE (Sony Classics) is finding even less traction, with a likely weekend average of only $12K in just 2 theatres.  THE SESSIONS (Fox Searchlight) continues to flail in 515 theatres, heading for an average under $1500 for the weekend despite the Friday holiday.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The boxoffice will be notoriously dead for the next two weeks, and Hollywood is largely hiding.  The only major opening is KILLING THEM SOFTLY (Weinstein), more or less being thrown away despite the presence of Brad Pitt, along with the horror cheapie THE COLLECTION (LD).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."