Weekend Wrap-Up
Blind Side Finally Takes Top Spot
By John Hamann
December 6, 2009

She *really* thinks Nick Saban is attractive now.

Ahhh, the post-Thanksgiving weekend. Late November and early December at the box office is a trifecta of weekends: the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, where blockbusters are set up to dominate the five-day turkey frame to follow, Thanksgiving weekend itself, this year a record setter at the box office, and the post-Thanksgiving weekend, the frame where holdovers crash after a busy a couple of weekends, and openers go to die. Debuting in the post-Thanksgiving weekend this year are three films with little chance of success - Brothers, starring Toby Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, Armored, the Reservoir Dog rip-off with Matt Dillon, and Everybody's Fine, a Robert DeNiro flick that might be a comedy. Obviously, it was going to come down to Twilight: New Moon versus The Blind Side for top spot at the weekend box office, and for once the good guys win.

Our number one film of the weekend is finally Sandra Bullock's The Blind Side, a title that has vied for the top spot for the last three weekends. After an opening frame where it got thumped by New Moon's $142.8 million to its still very strong $34.1 million, The Blind Side roared back over the Thanksgiving weekend, recording an 18% uptick over its previous frame, scoring a three-day gross of $40.1 million, narrowly missing taking over top spot from New Moon, which took in $42.9 million. Since the end of the last frame, these two films have been in a virtual tie over the week, with New Moon winning Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and The Blind Side winning Wednesday. For the last couple of days, the race has been so close the two films have been separated by as little as $25,000. It is close no more.

This weekend, The Blind Side is champ, scoring a weekend gross of $20.4 million, and a drop of only 49%, which is actually quite good considering it's coming off of the Thanksgiving weekend (last year, the average drop for a holdover in the top ten was 57%). Friday was The Blind Side's 15th day of release, and was also its third day finishing in the number one spot, as it beat New Moon by $1.6 million. From almost out of nowhere, The Blind Side has a shot at a few things that only a few weekends ago would have seemed impossible. With a solid Christmas run, The Blind Side should be a $200 million film on the domestic side, and make Bullock almost a lock for either a Golden Globe nomination or a Best Actress Oscar nomination. The Blind Side is simply an amazing story of how a movie studio dropped a no-name film into the most perfect spot on the schedule, and saw Cinderella-style success.

The Blind Side passed some interesting films on the all-time box office chart this weekend. One was Miss Congeniality, which earned $106.8 million over its entire run in 2000, along with A Time to Kill, another Bullock film, which took in $108.8 million in 1996, and Speed, which earned $121 million in 1994, and was Bullock's biggest film of her career until The Proposal came out this summer, earning $164 million. The Blind Side also got by Remember the Titans, formerly the third biggest football movie of all time, as the Denzel Washington flick earned $115.7 million. The Blind Side has now earned a simply amazing $129.3 million since opening three weekends ago. It should continue to play well as counter-programming to Avatar as it heads toward the Christmas - and award - season.

That means Twilight: New Moon moves down to second for the first time in its run. New Moon earned $15.7 million from 4,124 venues. It had another steep drop of 50% plus, as this weekend the teen scream dipped 63%. Summit Entertainment and its partners aren't too concerned. New Moon was made for $50 million and now has a domestic gross of $255.6 million. Add to that another $250 million coming from overseas, and Summit will be able to fund another 20 movies. Twilight: New Moon is going to earn $300 million, but not much more than that.

Brothers, the new "home from the war" drama, finishes third this weekend and is our top new release this weekend. Brothers debuted on only 2,088 venues this weekend, and turned in a gross of $9.7 million. It had a venue average of $4,646. Brothers starred Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman, and looked like Oscar bait; however, reviews, and now questionable box office, will likely finish its chances at any nominations. Brothers sits at 58% fresh at RottenTomatoes, as critics called Brothers melodrama rather than inspired film; "top critics" at the site liked it even less, scoring the film at 48% fresh. It's too bad this film wasn't better, as it does star three of the better actors working today. Maguire, beyond the Spider-Man franchise, has appeared in Cider House Rules, Seabiscuit and Wonder Boys; Portman, beyond the Star Wars films, was fantastic in Closer, Beautiful Girls and The Professional. Gyllenhaal, beyond The Day After Tomorrow, was great in Zodiac, Brokeback Mountain and The Good Girl. All three have big films on the horizon: Maguire in Spider-Man 4, Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Portman in Thor.

Disney's A Christmas Carol manages to move up a spot to fourth, but that`s where the good news ends. After a $15.8 million finish last weekend, and an increase of 28% over the previous frame, the Jim Carrey flick got knocked down to $7.5 million this weekend. That's a loss from Thanksgiving of 52%, but was expected as we came into the weekend. I still expect Christmas Carol to bounce back in the weekends to come, earning at least $10 million over the weekend closest to Christmas. Currently, the Robert Zemeckis film has earned $115 million, against a production cost of about $200 million.

Fifth spot goes to Old Dogs, the Robin Williams/John Travolta "comedy". After a three-day opening of $16.9 million over Thanksgiving, Old Dogs does not hold well in its second frame. The Disney flick earned only $6.9 million in its second frame, and drops a woeful 59% compared to last weekend. Old Dogs is certainly no Wild Hogs, the inexplicably leggy comedy that was also from Disney. It earned $168 million at the domestic box office. Give the $35 million Old Dogs a take so far of $33.9 million.

Armored finishes sixth, as the actioner failed to draw adult males to movie theaters. From the usually reliable Sony Screen Gems, Armored earned $6.6 million from 1,915 venues. It had an average of $3,446. Pre-release word on the street was that Armored was a low-rent version of Reservoir Dogs (heist film, cop taken hostage), which is probably unfair as Armored was going for a straight action type of feel. Armored was not screened for critics, which is somewhat surprising, as some of the reviews it has received so far have been decent. Currently, Armored is 57% fresh, with eight positive reviews out of a possible 14. Armored cost $25 million to make, and will be lucky to earn that much domestically.

Seventh goes to 2012, as the apocalyptic actioner gets hammered in its fourth frame. 2012 took in another $6.6 million from 3,220 venues. It dropped a large 63% compared to the Thanksgiving frame. While it no longer looks like 2012 will reach $200 million on the domestic front, it has outperformed internationally, as it is already approaching $500 million from the foreign box office. It has a domestic total of $148.8 million, against its $200 million budget.

Thanksgiving opener Ninja Assassin finds itself in eighth this weekend, after finishing sixth last weekend. This Ninja couldn't escape the post-Thanksgiving curse, as it drops from $13.3 million last weekend to $5 million this weekend. That score gives Ninja Assassin a drop of 62%, and pushes the $40 million film that much closer toward the Wal-Mart $2.99 bin. The Warner Bros. flick has a running total of $29.8 million.

Planet 51 (and sadly not Fantastic Mr. Fox) finishes ninth. The Sony film earned $4.3 million and dropped 58%. This $70 million flop has now earned $34 million.

Everybody's Fine finishes an ugly tenth, as Robert DeNiro failed to draw a Meet the Parents sized audience. The dramedy earned a not good $4 million from 2,133 venues, and had a venue average of $1,888. Considering this one had a cast that included DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell, and is a Christmas movie, this should have done better. I blame an insipid marketing campaign that didn't support it, as well as the not so great reviews (45% fresh at RottenTomatoes).

Overall this weekend, the post-Thanksgiving box office weekend enjoys a much healthier frame than last year. In 2008, the top 12 was led again by Four Christmases, as openers Punisher: War Zone and Cadillac Records finished well back of the pack. Last year, the top 12 grossed $76.7 million, where this year the top 12 took in $92 million, mostly on the back of The Blind Side.