December 3, 2011



The post-Thanksgiving weekend is usually brutal, and this year is no exception.
BREAKING DAWN PART 1:  The likely 60% drop from last weekend is as expected for this very front-loaded series.  Right now the film is running $9M below New Moon‘s 2009 total at the same point in its run, but Breaking Dawn 1 is losing steam a bit more slowly, so depending on how much damage New Year’s Eve does next weekend, Breaking Dawn 1 may end up more or less in the same place–which is to say slightly below $300M.

THE MUPPETS:  This 60% drop is less welcome (last year Tangled, coming from a much higher Thanksgiving weekend, fell only 55% in its 2d weekend).  With just one more week of open space until Alvin & The Dreaded Chipmunks descend on the market, this may not be the stuff of franchises.
HUGO:  Paramount’s unorthodox release strategy added more than 500 theatres this weekend, and the film and its director also received top honors from the National Board of Review.  The result is a much softer drop than its family-movie comrades, and a per-theatre number that will be right around Breaking Dawn 1‘s.  It’s still far from clear that Hugo can maneuver its way to anything close to profitability, with a production cost reported at $150-170M plus that much again in marketing–but this is the path it would have to take to get there.
ARTHUR CHRISTMAS:  Sadly, the odd family movie out this season.  Its likely $50M US gross won’t even pay for its marketing, much less the $100+ production cost.  Because of its specifically Christmas nature, the picture also won’t be able to get any meaningful homevideo revenues until the 2012 holiday season, which will leave a lot of red ink on Sony’s books for most of next year.
THE DESCENDANTS:  Increased its theatre count by another 30% to 574, so its weekend total won’t be too far off last week.  The $8500 per-theatre average is good, but it’s below the $8700 that Black Swan was doing last year when it reached 959 theatres.  What Descendants really needs is a better showing in the upcoming critics’ lists and awards than it had last week, a la Natalie Portman’s ride last year.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN:  Held at 244 theatres, and while its projected $4700 average isn’t remarkable, it’s relatively steady compared to the other post-holiday drops on the board.  A bigger potential problem is that Michelle Williams didn’t win either of the Best Actress awards last week, and her success is the key to this film’s.
OTHER HOLDOVERS:  In an attempt to get some pre-homevideo awards season energy going, Sony expanded both MONEYBALL and THE IDES OF MARCH back to around 1000 theatres.  Neither attracted much interest, and won’t get above $500-600K for the weekend.  Other films in the market continued on their previous paths.
INDIESSHAME is headed for a $35-40K average in 10 theatres.  That number is very strong, but below the recent levels of other high-profile indies, including The Descendants’ $41K average in 29 theatres and The Skin I Live In‘s $51K in 6.  Of course, some of that is attributable to Shame‘s NC-17 rating, but if the picture can’t sell out houses in the biggest cities, that may not be a great sign for its future.  THE ARTIST increased from 4 to 6 theatres by adding San Francisco to its NY/LA runs, and its weekend average will be $30-35K. Considering that Artist, despite its silent-movie, black & white style, is far more accessible and easily likable than Shame–not to mention that Artist won this week’s NY Film Critics Circle awards–that number is a little softer than one might have expected.  
Next weekend, NEW YEAR’S EVE will head straight for what’s left of the Breaking Dawn 1 audience, while THE SITTER could make some quick money because there’s nothing in the market right now remotely aimed for its R-rated comedy crowd.  The indie floodgates will also start to fall, with limited runs of award hopefuls TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, YOUNG ADULT and WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, not to mention Madonna’s W.E.–which technically is also an award hopeful, if the subject is costume or production design.

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."