Weekend Box Office – NEW MOON Dominates a Record Breaking Thanksgiving Holiday

     November 29, 2009

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As if the folks at Summit Entertainment didn’t have enough to be thankful for after the record-breaking debut of The Twilight Saga: New Moon last weekend, the vampy drama also dominated the holiday frame. New Moon passed the $200 million mark on Friday and ended its second weekend in theatres with over $230 million domestically. The only day out of the past five that New Moon didn’t own? Thanksgiving Thursday. That belonged to Warner Brothers’ surprise-hit The Blind Side which nearly tied for first place thanks to a nice jump in ticket sales over its first weekend. Between these two holdovers, new releases like WB’s Ninja Assassin and Disney’s Old Dogs had to fight over box office table scraps.

Title Weekend Total
1 New Moon $42,500,000 $230.7
2 The Blind Side $40,100,000 $100.3
3 2012 $18,000,000 $138.7
4 Old Dogs $16,800,000 $24.1
5 A Christmas Carol $16,000,000 $105.3
6 Ninja Assassin $13,100,000 $21
7 Planet 51 $10,200,000 $28.4
8 Precious $7,090,000 $32.4
9 Fantastic Mr. Fox $7,020,000 $10.1
10 The Men Who Stare at Goats $1,533,000 $30.5

The Twilight Saga New Moon movie image Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson (3).jpgI read a poll recently which said that over 50% of Americans go to the movies at least once during the five day Thanksgiving holiday. Why that particular tradition never got a heartwarming animated TV special of its own I will never know. Still, Hollywood studios count on that level of attendance to finish their calendar year, which is why Thanksgiving is considered one of the most important weeks of the year at the box office. 2009 did not disappoint. Attendance was up over the same period last year and the estimated $278 million taken in by all titles during the past five days added up to a new holiday record.

With all five days accounted for, Summit’s New Moon brought in an estimated $66 million from its 4,024 screens.  Even with that $42.5 million Ninja Assassin movie poster.jpgweekend total marking a decline of 70% since its debut, it’s still well ahead of the $46 million 2008’s winner Four Christmases brought in over its first five days. The Blind Side was the biggest gift of the season, however, rising 47% between this Friday and last and finishing its first ten days with a gross of over $100 million. Considering that Blind Side had a budget of only $29 million and less marketing behind it, the football drama has to be seen as a big win for Warners.

The Blind Side was especially meaningful for the studio because they had a lot less to be thankful for with Ninja Assassin. The latest from V for Vendetta director James McTeigue was released on Wednesday in 2,503 theatres where it struggled to lure male audiences away from Fox’s still-potent disaster flick 2012. Assassin ended the weekend at number five with an estimated $21 million. Not a failure by any stretch, especially as the R-rated pic was budgeted at only $40 million. But with more new titles due next week and Avatar looming on the horizon, Ninja Assassin won’t have long to pump those grosses up.

For the first three days of its release, Disney’s Old Dogs struggled even more than Ninja Assassins. By Sunday, however, family crowds helped old_dogs_movie_poster_01.jpgDogs push into the fourth spot just behind 2012. The PG-rated comedy finished Thanksgiving weekend with an estimated $24 million from its 3,425 theatres, taking a bite out of Disney’s profits for A Christmas Carol, which limped past $100 million on its 24th day in release. Long term prospects for Old Dogs are much bleaker than those for McTeigue’s Assassins, however. Aside from the fact that the comedy has one of the lowest Tomato-Meter scores of the past year at 7%, Disney is turning all of its attention toward plugging The Princess & the Frog. The studio has already made over $1 million from the two theatres which debuted Princess on Wednesday, with the film’s much-anticipated wide release scheduled for December 11th.

After two weeks in limited release, Fox expanded its run of director Wes Anderson’s universally-beloved The Fantastic Mr. Fox in to 2,033 theatres. The animated flick scored an additional $9 million for the five-day Thanksgiving period, with its running total now estimated at just over $10 million domestically.

Finally, this Thanksgiving had one last gift to give – the gift of ambiguity, ennui and the utter despair offered by The Road. The adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic novel finally made its way into 111 theatres on Wednesday where it rang up about $2 million in its first five days. That made for a pretty-shabby per screen average of $13,720 for the weekend but the real victory here was that The Weinsteins got The Road out into theatres at all. For awhile there it seemed like the funds would not be found. So, Yay for the end of the world I guess?

Another cornucopia of new movies are due out next week, including Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air starring George Clooney. Also due on December fourth is the dark-looking drama Brothers and the weird-looking comedy Everybody’s Fine. Seriously, I can’t be the only person who is creeped-out by how happy Sam Rockwell looks on that poster, can I?

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