Holdovers Blind Side Openers at Thanksgiving Box Office
By John Hamann
November 29, 2009
The real winner of the box office weekend is our second-place finisher, The Blind Side, which is turning into a box office phenomenon. After opening to a surprisingly strong $34.1 million last weekend, the Sandra Bullock sports drama rode the Thanksgiving Bump to a three-day gross of $40.6 million. That's an increase of 18% compared to last weekend, and for a film that didn't expand its venue count (it added 30 venues from last weekend, moving from 3,110 to 3,140, or 0.9%), this is an amazing performance. Usually the Thanksgiving Bump is enjoyed by kids or Christmas movies (or both). The Santa Clause 3 jumped 20% in 2006, but it only jumped from $8.3 million to $9.9 million. The Polar Express jumped 24% from $15.7 million to $19.4 million in 2004, and Elf saw similar success in 2003. I scrolled back over two decades of Thanksgiving box office, and the only slightly similar example is Home Alone, and it is still a longshot as a comparison. Home Alone opened to $17.1 million in 1990, over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, it earned $21 million, an increase of 23%. The Blind Side doubled that gross, and increased the percentage difference, which is statistically amazing.
The Blind Side actually beat New Moon on Thursday, when it grossed $9.5 million versus New Moon's $9.2 million. It was at this point we knew that something very special had the potential to arrive this weekend, as no one expected Blind Side to get past New Moon after only one week of release. On Friday, New Moon was the number one film with $17.7 million versus Blind Side's $16.2 million. The Friday figure for the $29 million-budgeted Warner Bros. flick was an extreme 47% higher than its opening day, which suggests that Blind Side could have been even bigger over opening weekend, had New Moon not caused such a stir. With Friday grosses in, it became a showdown on how these two films performed on Saturday to crown a winner. The original Twilight had a 2.4 multiplier over opening weekend, and its sequel earned an identical 2.4 multiplier this weekend; Blind Side earned a 2.5 multiplier, bringing it with an inch of winning the weekend.
For Sandra Bullock, 2009 has been the year of her renaissance. After opening The Proposal to her biggest weekend yet at $33.6 million, she trumped it with The Blind Side at $34.5 million. The Proposal also had big legs, earning a domestic total of $164 million, or about 5.9 times what it opened to. Now, The Blind Side could be on an even bigger trend upward, as The Proposal's smallest drop was 17.5%, and never showed an uptick over its run, except when it was on fewer than 500 screens. Great legs are not new for Bullock either, as Miss Congeniality also rose in its second weekend, jumping from $13.9 million to $14.6 million over Christmas in 2000. While You Were Sleeping also rose 13% for the actress in 1995, moving from $9.3 million to $10.5 million in its second weekend.