Thanksgiving Big For Kids at the Box Office
By John Hamann
November 27, 2011
It was an interesting weekend at the box office over the Thanksgiving frame, not only because numbers were decent, but also because we had something very strange happen in the movie world. We had three new wide releases, all of them for kids, and all of them appear to be very good films. At Rotten Tomatoes, The Muppets, Hugo, and Arthur Christmas all had a fresh rating above 90%. In fact, from all new releases, we only had 15 negative reviews out of a possible 322. The last time that happened? How about never for three new films taking over 8,093 venues. Now let's talk some turkey.
Our number one film of the Thanksgiving weekend (unfortunately) is The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1. After a Twilight-esque $138 million debut last weekend, the tide had to turn – as it always does for this franchise - but the question was by how much. Our easiest comparison to Breaking Dawn is New Moon, since it opened on the same weekend in 2009, and had a very similar opening weekend gross of $142.8 million. New Moon had a Thanksgiving weekend gross of $42.9 million, as it plunged 70%. Breaking Dawn was again similar, as it fell 70% and earned $42 million in its second frame. It had a five-day gross of $62.3 million, where New Moon earned $66.3 million.
We need not wonder whether the second weekend of this film in the franchise is good or bad. It is expected. Breaking Dawn followed the New Moon pattern very closely over the weekend, with the Wednesday grosses for Breaking Dawn at $12.5 million versus New Moon's $14.2 million. Thanksgiving Thursday had Breaking Dawn at $7.8 million and New Moon at $9.2 million. Friday was $16.9 million for Breaking Dawn versus $17.7 million for New Moon. These Twilight movies are attracting the same audiences. Should the pattern hold, Breaking Dawn is going to finish between $280 and $290 million, whereas New Moon topped out at $296 million. Currently, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 has a domestic tally of $221.3 million, as it crossed the $200 million mark on Saturday, only its ninth day of release. It also already has over $150 million in overseas grosses.
Now that we have that behind us, let's talk about the good news at the box office. Finishing a very strong second is The Muppets, as Jim Henson's beloved creations are brought back to the big screen, and are given the respect they deserve. With a whole bunch of kid competition this weekend, the old-school muppets show how it's done, earning a three-day, Friday-to-Sunday gross of $29.5 million and a five-day take of $42 million. Good or bad, The Muppets was released by Disney and rolled out to 3,440 venues. It had a three-day venue average of $8,576. The Muppets cost Disney only $45 million to make (or about $55 million less than your average children's flick these days), was not shot in 3D, does not condescend to kids, and is a stellar 98% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. Parental nirvana has been achieved. Why can't more movies be like this?