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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Skyfall earned more on its Thanksgiving Friday than it did seven days earlier ($14.8 million vs. $12.3 million), and in the process, broke the $200 million mark on its 15th day. This is the first time a Bond film has ever broken the $200 million mark domestically. Skyfall is the anti-Twilight – it is pushing the box office boundaries for the franchise despite being around for so long. Since opening, Skyfall has brought in $221.7 million stateside, and with a strong holiday season, the domestic finish could be staggering, and joins an overseas gross that has already pushed past the half-billion mark.

Lincoln pulls into third this weekend – the same spot it was in last weekend – but beats the gross it earned last weekend despite adding only 243 more screens. A weekend ago, the Steven Spielberg historical drama earned $21 million; over the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving weekend, Lincoln took in $25 million, an increase of 19%. This is reminiscent of what The Blind Side did over Thanksgiving 2009, when it opened to $34 million. The Sandra Bullock flick increased its take over turkey weekend to $40.1 million, an increase of 17.6% compared to the previous frame. Having the increase is huge for Lincoln’s Oscar hopes, not to mention its financial hopes. It has put itself in a position to be a $100 million plus earner (Oscar likes that), and will likely be the go-to film for adults until December 28th when Les Miserables opens. Lincoln cost Disney only $65 million to make, and is going to earn strongly for the next five weekends. Its total sits at $62.2 million so far.


Finishing fourth and feeling the pinch of a very busy box office is our first opener, Rise of the Guardians. The DreamWorks Animation release earned $24 million over the three-day portion of the weekend, and $32.6 million over the five-day. Tracking was expecting $40 million over five days, and the studio was expecting at least $35 million over that time frame, so this one ends up falling short. It got what it needed, though – a good start, as it now has an ‘A’ Cinemascore to boast about and an upcoming slate that has no competition until The Hobbit shows up on December 14th. Things that are working against it include the budget ($145 million), a premise that is more action-oriented than fun, and an animation style that might be putting some people off. I expect it to beat the trend of big post-Thanksgiving tumbles, and end up earning decent money right up to Christmas.

Fifth is Life of Pi, which, despite its ranking in the top ten, blows the cover off tracking expectations. Tracking was expecting a laughable $15 to $20 million over five days, but it ended up with $22 million over three days, and a powerful $30.1 million over five. All of a sudden, the big gamble that Fox had on its hands (Pi cost $120 million to make) was won, as a film like Martin Scorsese’s Hugo earned 6.5 times its opening three-day Thanksgiving gross. Life of Pi is currently 87% fresh at RottenTomatoes, with many critics commenting on the strength of the 3D. This is another film that could have long, strong life. Some might argue that they took it too wide too soon in– 2,900 theatres this weekend, leaving little room for expansion. However, this is a much stronger domestic start than anyone expected. It earned an A- Cinemascore, and should find at least another $100 million from overseas cinemas, if not more.

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