Weekend Wrap-Up

Thanksgiving Box Office Red Hot Thanks to Openers, Holdovers

By John Hamann

November 25, 2012

Is that the married director of Snow White and the Huntsman I see over there?

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It was so busy at movie theatres this weekend, no single film could break out. Unfortunately, we are left with Twilight on top, but with so many other interesting things happening this weekend, I don’t care.

It’s become a Thanksgiving tradition to have a big sequel aimed at youth debut at the top of the box office. Since 2009, we have either seen the second weekend of Twilight or Harry Potter hit the upper echelons. In 2009, it was Twilight: New Moon at #1 with $42.9 million in its second frame; in 2010, the second weekend of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 earned $49.1 million; in 2011, the sophomore session of Breaking Dawn Part 1 was on top with $41.6 million. These films always help the top 12 total in a big way, but this year outshines the last three years, as the supporting cast – new and expanding films – opened very strongly this year, and holdovers did better than usual. What’s different this year is that eight out of the top ten films are good or great – other Thanksgivings have brought us Burlesque, Faster or Ninja Assassin. The crop of films in the top ten may be the best Thanksgiving lineup I’ve ever seen, discounting the two Dawns, Breaking and Red.


Our number one film of the weekend is The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, but it was a closer race than I expected. Twilight followed its same pattern – after earning $140 million last weekend, it fell its usual 69% to $43.1 million over the three-day portion of the weekend. Part 2 is basically tied with Part 1 so far, as the first Breaking Dawn earned $41.7 million over the same weekend last year. New Moon was also very similar back in 2009, when it earned $42.9 million. Same movie, same audience, same time of year - the Twilight franchise will go down in history as the most predictable series ever. So far, the final piece in this strange puzzle has earned $227 million. It cost $120 million to make and has earned a half-billion worldwide. The good news is that a decent hold by any of our top five next weekend, or a strong performance from Brad Pitt’s Killing Them Softly next weekend, will keep Twilight from three-peating like it did last year. Fingers crossed!

None of the openers cracked the top three this weekend. Over a normal weekend, that would spell disaster for the overall box office, but not this year, as holdovers are super strong. Second spot goes to Skyfall, and its performance this weekend is nothing but wow. Skyfall earned a blistering $36 million and falls only 12% compared to its $41.1 million gross last weekend. In 2008, Quantum of Solace fell 30% over the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving frame, dropping from $26.7 million to a paltry $18.8 million. Even the better Daniel Craig Bond film fell more – Casino Royale opened over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend to $40.8 million and fell 25% over the holiday to $30 million.

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