After two weeks of sold-out shows in New York and LA, Disney sent The Princess and the Frog out to multiplexes nationwide this weekend. It’s been over ten years since little girls had a new Disney Princess to coo over and weeks since an all-ages family film graced a movie marquee, which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Princess replaced The Blind Side as the number one film domestically. What is a bit surprising, to me at least, is how average the estimated grosses for Disney’s much-hyped feature turned out to be.
|1||Princess & the Frog||$25,000,000||$27.8|
|2||The Blind Side||$15,450,000||$150.2|
|5||A Christmas Carol||$6,871,000||$124.4|
The Princess and the Frog brought in an estimated $25 million from its 3,434 theatres. This breaks the record for an animated film opening in December, which is certainly the lead that Disney will be running with. And it’s not a bad take, especially for a 2D feature. But it’s certainly nowhere near as high as the hype surrounding the studio’s first African-American princess would have had us believe.
Projections had The Princess and the Frog above $30 million – in line with the opening weekend for Disney’s higher-priced 3D A Christmas Carol six weeks ago. $25 million does beat the debut of Mulan back in 1998 but – considering that Princess had the benefit of months of free news-outlet marketing (especially on ABC) and excellent advance reviews to recommend it – anything less than $30 million has to come as a disappointment. Sony’s comparatively unknown Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs managed $30 million a few months back, after all – though it had those 3D ticket prices boosting it. On the bright side, Disney won’t see serious family-film competition in theatres until Christmas.
Unlike Disney, Warner Brothers has no reason to be anything but thrilled with the continued strength of the Sandra Bullock drama claiming second place. After rising to number one last weekend (after 3 weeks in theatres), The Blind Side brought in another $15.4 million this weekend – another moderate decline of only 23%.
Not exactly as encouraging was the debut of Warner Brother’s other sports drama, Invictus. The inspiring true story of rugby and race from director Clint Eastwood managed to take third place with $9 million. Although the studio was looking for as much as $15 million from the film’s 2,125 locations (especially after the big money Eastwood brought in with Gran Torino this time last year), I’m gonna go ahead and call this a victory for Invictus. Eastwood’s name aside, this was a hard movie to sell. Few in America want to learn about rugby or international politics, so a third place finish here is a win in my book.
On the specialty side of the street, Peter Jackson grabbed a $38,000 per-screen average from the three theatres which debuted his latest feature, The Lovely Bones. Jason Reitman, meanwhile, saw his Up in the Air expand to 72 locations in week two for another excellent average of $34,000 per venue. And from the small and intimate film release to the giant and awe-inspiring – next week James Cameron is back with a little flick he calls Avatar. I’m gonna leave it at that for now.