Potter vs Tangled, Post-Thanksgiving Style
By John Hamann
December 5, 2010
The post-Thanksgiving weekend can be one of the more brutal weekends of the movie-going year, as surprisingly, the first weekend in December is a box office dead zone. A year ago, even the ultra-leggy Blind Side fell 50%, 14 more percentage points than its second biggest drop when earning more than $1 million per weekend. A year ago, there were three decent sized openers, and none of them debuted to more than $10 million. This year, there is only one new opener, The Warrior's Way, and even it is staying in hiding, showing up at only 1,622 venues. The showdown this weekend (again) is between Harry Potter and Tangled. Would the popular Disney toon overthrow the mighty wizard, or would Potter be king for the third consecutive frame?
Our number one film of the weekend is Tangled, Disney's very well-received, 3D animated musical. Like The Blind Side, Tangled finished at number one this weekend, with an A+ Cinemascore and 87% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, but still got blindsided this weekend. After a three-day take over the turkey frame of $48.8 million, the Disney romp fell a woeful 56% to $21.5 million. It's important to remember how brief of a blip the first weekend in December can be for a film's box office run. Continuing with The Blind Side example, the Sandra Bullock flick did fall 50% over its third weekend, but over its next four weekends, the average drop was 9.99%. The first weekend in December is obviously not good; however, the next three weekends at the box office certainly make it up for it. Yes, there is lots of competition coming for kids in the form of Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Yogi Bear, but Tangled is a good film that is getting loads of positive remarks, so it should see some better than average staying power.
Disney needs Tangled to show some sturdy legs. The LA Times reported a budget for Tangled of $260 million, as this effort has been in the works for many years. Despite that huge budget number, I think Disney is going to make out just fine. My math has Tangled at about $180 million by the end of December, with a chance at $200 million before the end of its domestic run. Logic then says Tangled will earn $300 million overseas, and Disney will see a profit by the time the first run of DVDs are sold, or even before. Tangled could have been a very ugly situation for the Mouse House given the budget, and they should be credited for turning this one around. The animated film is going to be Disney's fourth biggest domestic film of the year, behind Toy Story 3 ($415 million), Alice In Wonderland ($334 million), and Tron: Legacy, which opens on December 17th – note the theme of all four - 3D.
For the first time in its three-weekend run, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows has to settle for second. With almost $230 million in sales heading into the weekend, Potter could not maintain the momentum it needed to stay ahead of Tangled at the weekend box office. The Deathly Hallows earned $16.7 million in its third frame, and drops a heavy 66%. I still think the best comparison here is Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, as that was the last Potter film to open in November, and on a Friday. Goblet of Fire grossed $54.7 million over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2005, and then fell 64% to $19.9 million the following weekend. Deathly Hallows now has two consecutive weekends behind the gross of Goblet of Fire, but maintains the overall lead. Goblet had earned $230 million by the end of the post-Thanksgiving weekend, where Deathly Hallows has now taken in $244.2 million.