Holdovers Blind Side Openers at Thanksgiving Box Office
By John Hamann
November 29, 2009
It's been ten years since Thanksgiving was an event weekend for blockbuster movie openings. The scheduling trend in the last decade is to open your event film the weekend before Thanksgiving, and take a healthy amount of gravy over the five-day frame that follows. Openers trying to take down The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Blind Side this weekend are Ninja Assassin, produced by Larry and Andy Wachowski; Old Dogs, with Robin Williams and John Travolta; limited-release The Road with Viggo Mortensen; and the expansion of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's animated Roald Dahl story. While some of the openers appeared to have a chance to score on paper, we knew on Thursday that it was going to be a big holdover weekend.
Thanksgiving just isn't what it used to be as a movie weekend anymore. Once upon a time, Thanksgiving opened big films like Mrs. Doubtfire, The Bodyguard, Back to the Future Part II, Scrooged, and Three Men and a Baby (some of those you may have to ask your parents about) before Disney took over, releasing Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Flubber. Now, studios open event films in the weekends leading up to Thanksgiving so they can enjoy the "Thanksgiving Bump". Last year, Disney's lackadaisical opener Bolt managed to outdo its opening weekend gross of $26.2 million over the comparable Friday-to-Sunday portion of the Thanksgiving weekend. This saved Disney's Bolt from being a $75 million flop, and turned it into a $114 million disappointment (it cost Disney $150 million to make). Holdovers also benefit from big Wednesday numbers heading into the long weekend. Wednesday is basically another Friday for a holdover, which can translate into big money. The top ten films on Wednesday grossed just short of what they grossed on Friday, November 13th - the day 2012 opened to $23.4 million.
The big winner in the Thanksgiving Bump sweepstakes is The Blind Side, as the Sandra Bullock football drama came -this- close to dethroning the third-biggest opener of all time in their respective second weekends. Read that again – after The Twilight Saga: New Moon opened to $142.8 million last weekend, it was a step away from falling to second in its sophomore weekend to a film that was runner-up with a gross of $34.1 million (a $108.7 million difference). After a historic weekend in the last frame, we have a historic follow up-weekend – which is much more of a surprise than the size of New Moon's opening weekend gross. Never before have we seen one film go down to such a degree, while being joined by another film showing such a sharp increase. The most ironic thing in my mind is that this film is called The Blind Side, which is quickly becoming my favorite movie title of all-time.
Number one by a hair is The Twilight Saga: New Moon, as the teen wolf phenomenon implodes this weekend. New Moon earned $42.7 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, and was down a dramatic 70% compared to its explosive $143 million opening frame. The drop is remarkably similar to that of the original Twilight, but that film opened to a much lower $69.6 million. The first Twilight plunged 62% over the Thanksgiving frame, earning $26.3 million. By the end of the holiday weekend, the original Twilight had yet to gross what New Moon earned over its opening weekend. New Moon crossed the $200 million mark on Friday, making it the third fastest film to reach the $200 million mark, as it lagged behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Dark Knight, which both did it in five days. It now has a total domestic gross of $231.2 million. If we follow the original Twilight pattern, we will see another significant drop next weekend, before leveling off heading through December. Is it a $300 million film? It should be, but at this point, I'm not ruling anything out with this one.