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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (Nov 30-Dec 2, 2012)

November concluded with another $100+ million weekend, resulting in the first time ever that the total gross for the month November passed $1 billion and making November 2012 the 10th-biggest month in box-office on record. It is the only non-summer month in the all-time Top 10 of the biggest months ever. That’s not so surprising now. Afterall, the month has already produced two $200+ million grosser, one $150+ million grosser and at least two more November releases are guaranteed to past $100 million when all is said and done. Typically, the post-Thanksgiving weekend was considerably slower than the weekends before it, but thanks to coming off a huge frame, even a 47.1% drop for the Top 12 cume led to a $106.1 million gross, making it the biggest post-Thanksgiving weekend ever and the first one to pass the $100 million-mark. Compared to the same weekend last year, the box-office was up a whopping 44.1%. 2012 is now up 6.6% from 2011 and 4.1% from 2009 (the biggest year for domestic box-office ever).


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 retained the top spot once again, decreasing 60.1% to $17.4 million, bringing its 17-day cume to $254.6 million and crashing into this year’s Top 5. It is in line with Part 1’s 60.3% post-Thanksgiving drop, but a tad better than New Moon’s 64% decline. It was also the biggest third weekend gross the Twilight franchise has ever delivered. Breaking Dawn Part 2 is now tracking around $7.5 million ahead of its immediate predecessor and keeps gaining on New Moon, now less than $1 million behind it after the same period of time. Less than $27 million away from Part 1’s final gross ($281.3 million), Breaking Dawn Part 2 is a lock to pas it and looks very likely to hit $290 million now. It will face direct competition for female audiences, however, with next weekend’s Playing for Keeps. While it won’t set the box-office on fire, it should still directly target Breaking Dawn’s demographics. If the film can withstand that competition well enough, then it will have a fair shot at becoming only the second Twilight movie to hit the $300 million mark. Coming off a weekend that is around $2 million higher than New Moon’s third outing, Breaking Dawn Part 2 should almost certainly hit at least $295 million (New Moon finished with $296.6 million). Once the film gets within $1-2 million of $300 million, Summit will probably do anything to ensure, that it’ll pass it. However, one harsh drop could change it all. Right now, it looks good for $295-305 million range; though it is still hard to tell which side of the barrier it will fall on.


Skyfall handily won the second spot of the box-office for the third weekend in a row. In its fourth weekend, the film grossed $16.6 million, missing out on the top spot by less than $1 million. The movie’s 53.4% drop is slightly worse than Casino Royale’s 50.9% decline over the post-Thanksgiving frame in 2006, but at the same time vastly better than Quantum on Solace’s 64.1% drop. With $245.6 million in the bag, it is already the year’s 6th-biggest film and tracking roughly $94 million ahead of Quantum of Solace. Compared to other recent surprising blockbusters, Skyfall is around $18 million ahead of Inception, $36 million ahead of the Star Trek reboot, but $7 million behind the first Iron Man. Next weekend, the film will face no direct competition as its older, primarily male demographics shouldn’t be toched much by the only new wide release, Playing for Keeps. A week later, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is certain to hit it hard, not least by taking away most of its IMAX screens and another week later, its theatre count and screen count will suffer greatly under the onslaught of four new wide releases, including direct action competition, courtesy of Jack Reacher. On the other hand, Skyfall should benefit well from Christmas. I expect it to stay in the Top 10 all the way until the end of December and play well into January. This weekend’s solid hold pretty much assured a $300+ million finish for the film. It’ll be an interesting and extremely close battle between this and Breaking Dawn Part 2 for the November crown. Should Skyfall lose it, it’ll still be regarded as a huge surprise for even challenging Breaking Dawn. However, if it wins the race (which I suspect it will), it’ll go down as one of the biggest box-office upsets in recent years. Either way, a $300+ million-grossing James Bond movie is right up there with The Hunger Games and The Avengers for the year’s most incredible success stories. I expect a $300-305 million domestic finish, whereas worldwide it is well on its way to pass $1 billion.


After a hugely disappointing start last weekend, DreamWorks’ Rise of the Guardians slightly redeemed itself by delivering the best decline in the Top 10. Down just 43.7%, the animated flick rose one spot to #3 and added $13.4 million to its total, bringing its 12-day cume to $48.8 million. Despite the good hold, it is still a paltry number for what was supposed to be DreamWorks’ big Christmas flick of 2012. Given the $145 million production budget, it has a very long way to go to recoup the costs. At least it looks like its word-of-mouth (indicated by last weekend’s “A”-CinemaScore) is kicking in already. With no competition next weekend, I expect a great hold, followed by a very leggy run until Christmas. Now most Christmas-themed movies (The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol and Christmas with the Kranks just to name a few) usually drop like a rock once Christmas Eve passes. However, with Rise of the Guardians’ marketing not focusing solely on the Christmas aspect (in fact, Cjristmas as a holiday doesn’t even play a large role in the film), it might avoid this fate and play well into January. It should be noted that, in an amazing example of terrible scheduling, January is currently devoid of any family-oriented releases. In fact, out of the nine wide releases in January, seven are currently rated R, one is rated PG-13 and one (The Last Stand) is not yet rated. While this will make sure that all these films will eat into one another, it will also help family-friendly holdovers like Rise of the Guardians, Wreck-It Ralph and The Hobbit. Therefore, I have little doubts that even despite its sluggish start, Rise of the Guardians will make it to more than $100 million, finishing somewhere around $100-110 million. It’s certainly less than Paramount/DreamWorks hoped for, but not an embarrassment feared after its pathetic opening day.


Steven Spielberg’s awards season frontrunner Lincoln slid down one spot to #4 of the box-office, losing 47.9% of its audience in the process. The film took in another $13.4 million over the three-day period and brought its running cume to $83.6 million. After just three weeks in wide release, Lincoln has beaten the total grosses of Spielberg’s two films in 2012 – The Adventures of Tintin ($77.6 million) and War Horse ($79.9 million). It must be noted that Disney hasn’t added new theatres this weekend, leaving the film’s theatre count at 2,018 and thus giving it the best per-theatre-average among all wide releases. With a $65 million budget to boot, Lincoln is well on its way to become a bona fide success and its run is still far from being close to its end. With the heat of the awards season still ahead, Christmas support (it should remain the top choice for adult audiences over the course of the month), splendid WoM and likely further expansion, it is a shoe-in for $150+ million. In fact, I fully expect it to at least approach the mark by the time the Oscar nominations are announced. Its final gross is of course hard to pinpoint now as it will very much depend upon how well it will perform at the Oscars ceremony. However, even if it doesn’t take home the big trophy, it should be guaranteed to finish in the $165-175 million range. Should it win big, though, I wouldn’t rule out a $200+ million finish.


Ang Lee’s Life of Pi held relatively well at #5, declining 45.9% to $12.2 million and bringing its running total to $48.5 million by the end of its second weekend. Like the aforementioned Rise of the Guardians, Life of Pi will also benefit from the overwhelming number of R-rated movies in January, but will also be helped by the certain amount of Oscar buzz and (likely) multiple major nominations. That should give it the edge in the race between it and Rise of the Guardians and put it on track towards a $110-120 million finish. It has the potential to go higher, but I think that it will suffer under the arrival of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Life of Pi is heavily marketed as a visual feast for eyes and The Hobbit will certainly take its place in the spotlight soon as far as visuals are concerned. Still, the film has turned out a bigger success than most have ever expected.


Wreck-It Ralph held on to its last weekend’s spot as well. At #6 it dropped an expected 58.1% (after its previous weekend has been inflated by Thanksgiving) and managed to gross $6.9 million for a total of $158.2 million after five weeks on release. It has become the 14th movie this year to pass $150 million and has advanced to #13 on the yearly chart. Very soon it will pass Ice Age: Continental Drift’s $160.9 million and become the 4th-biggest animated feature of 2012. It is still around $19 million ahead of Tangled, but Tangled will be catching up fast now. Like Rise of the Guardians and Life of Pi, it will benefit from the lack of competition in January, but I still don’t think it’ll have the stamina to make it to $200 million. Around $185-190 million seems like the more likely outcome right now.


The Brad Pitt-starrer Killing Them Softly opened softly at #7, delivering $6.8 million from 2,424 venues for a pitiful PTA of $2,811. While the $15 million budget makes the opening look okay, it is pretty bad for the film’s leading star, Brad Pitt. However, one has to go back to 1994 and The Favor to find the last wide release starring Brad Pitt with a worse opening weekend. In fact, Pitt’s last ten live-action wide releases have opened to $33.6 million on average, with none of them making less than $19 million opening weekend. Things aren’t looking too bright for its future either. While the majority of the critics liked the film, the audiences certainly did not, making it only the 8th movie to receive the feared “F”-CinemaScore. It joins the ranks of The Devil Inside, Silent House and The Box. All of these films had terrible legs and it should be no different for Killing Them Softly. I expect the film to vanish from most theatres within the next two weeks, ending its run with around $13-15 million.


Down a slot to #8, Red Dawn made $6.5 million (down 54.5%) from Friday to Sunday and out its current total at $31.3 million after 12 days. This is nothing to boast about, given the $65 million budget, but given its years-long delay, things could have turned out worse. It will find its way to a $45 million total.


Robert Zemeckis’ Flight continued its struggle towards $100 million at #9 of the box-office. In its 5th weekend, the Denzel Washington-starring drama made around $4.5 million, down 47% from last weekend. The film has grossed $81.5 million by now, making it Washington’s 9th-biggest domestic grosser unadjusted for inflation and putting it just behind Unstoppable. Flight is tracking $7 million ahead of Tony Scott’s film in the same time period and should keep gaining ground over the next weeks. It’ll take until January that the Oscar buzz for Washington will really take off, but if it is strong enough, I could see resurgence for the film. Right now, I believe it’ll crawl to $100 million by the end of its run, even though it might take it until February to do so.


The Collection, a follow-up to the 2009 horror flick The Collector opened quietly at #10 with $3.1 million from 1,403 locations ($2,213 PTA). The opening is very similar to that of its predecessor ($3.6 million from 1,325 venues). The first film wasn’t exactly a prime example of longevity, finishing with $7.7 million. I believe the sequel will follow suit, leaving the theatres with $7 million in its pockets. It should do very well on DVD/BluRay, though.


Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell’s new Oscars hopeful after The Fighter, dropped out of the Top 10 to #11, but delivered the best hold in the entire Top 12. Even though the film has added just four theatres, it decreased a mere 29.5% to $3.1 million. The film has collected $10.7 million so far and hasn’t even hit 400 theatres yet. I expect it to expand well throughout the month and strong Oscar buzz will carry it well beyond $50 million. Should it become a real contender for major awards, then I wouldn’t even rule out $100 million.


The only significant expansion this weekend was given to Anna Karenina, which went from 66 theatres to 384 and grossed $2.2 million over the weekend. The period flick averaged $5,848 per theatre. Its running total stands at $4.1 million. The reviews on the film are mixed as is the WoM. Its outwards status as a potential awards contender and the tremendous popularity of its source material will help it, but I still don’t expect anything more than $20-25 million, especially since it is actually not a serious contender for any awards.


I other news, Argo has cracked $100 million in its 8th weekend, bringing its cume to $101 million as it landed at #13 this weekend. With strong awards buzz, it still has a long way to go. I see it winding up with $115-120 million eventually. Meanwhile, Hitchcock expanded from 17 theatres to 50, but its weekend gross jumped just 42% to around $409,000 for a paltry PTA of $8,174. Even with awards buzz for its actors, it’ll have a hard time making more than $5-6 million.

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