Box office rankings were frozen in time this weekend as the top three films remained unchanged for a third straight frame. Once again, top honors went to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, closely followed by Skyfall. Spielberg’s Lincoln claimed third. There were also two new releases, though neither hailed from a major studio. The Weinstein Co.’s Killing Them Softly had the most promise, but not even Brad Pitt’s presence could push the drama to $10 million on this notoriously low-grossing weekend.
|1.||Breaking Dawn Part 2||$17,400,000||$254.5|
|4.||Rise of the Guardians||$13,500,000||$48.9|
|5.||Life of Pi||$12,000,000||$48.3|
|7.||Killing Them Softly||$7,000,000||$7|
|10.|| The Collection
It’s not particularly noteworthy for one film to top the box office for three straight weeks. Big blockbusters manage the same trick a couple of times each year (like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises last summer) and even sleepers can pull a three-peat in a slow month (like The Help in August 2011). What is much more unusual is for the top three films to remain unchanged for three weeks in a row. The last time that happened was January 2010 when Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel claimed their respective places in the top three for a third frame. I looked for another example of this rare box office triple-alignment and came up short. The closest I found were the two weeks in 2001 when LOTR: the Fellowship of the Ring, Ocean’s Eleven and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius were on top for TWO consecutive weeks.
At this time last year, Breaking Dawn Part 1 also enjoyed a third week at number one. The penultimate film in The Twilight Saga fell 60% on its own third weekend, with a gross of $16.5 million and an overall total of $246.9 million. Breaking Dawn Part 2 also dropped 60% from its sophomore frame, though its estimated $254.5 million domestic total clearly tops its predecessor’s. After seventeen days, Breaking Dawn Part 2 trails both New Moon and Eclipse at the same point… but only by around $1 million in each case.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 may have claimed box office bragging rights for a third week in a row, but that in no way diminishes the incredible run of three-time runner-up Skyfall. Following its domestic debut four weeks ago, the latest James Bond feature has earned a remarkable $246 million and over $805 million worldwide. And, capping its impressive run, Skyfall is now ranked as the highest-grossing spy movie in US history. On Thursday, 007 passed the $227.4 million of The Bourne Ultimatum on the all-time box office chart.
Things have not been so sanguine for Rise of the Guardians. Touted by DreamWorks as the must-see movie of this holiday season, the CGI-animated film got off to a disappointing start one week ago and has struggled ever since. Now in its sophomore frame, Rise of the Guardians reached a domestic total of $48.9 million in twelve days. Why is that so discouraging? The family-friendly feature was expected to earn $58 million in its first five days alone.
Rise of the Guardians is not the only film dealing with disappointment this weekend. Though this particular frame has become a dead-zone for new studio movies (the last title to debut higher than $10 million on the post-Black Friday weekend was Aeon Flux, in 2005), one smaller-studio release seemed to offer hope. That was TWC’s Killing Them Softly, an R-rated drama starring Brad Pitt. So, OK, it didn’t bode well when the film’s release was shifted from late-September to this notoriously soft date, but the reviews were decent… and hadn’t Pitt helped Moneyball beat expectations last year?
Unfortunately, Killing Them Softly is no Moneyball. From 2,424 locations, the film earned an estimated $7 million – well under the $10 million that TWC was hoping for. Part of the problem may be the dreadful ‘F’ Cinemascore the film received. The only bright side for Killing Them Softly is the fact that it performed better than the weekend’s other new release, The Collection. The sequel to the 2009 horror title The Collector, The Collection barely made the top ten, earning a reported $3.4 million from 1,403 locations.
We’re in for another quiet frame next weekend – you should use the time to prepare for the arrival of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on December 14th. Once again, next Friday will offer no major studio releases, with only FilmDistrict’s rom-com Playing for Keeps entering wide release. The film stars Gerard Butler so, my expectations could not be lower.