1. The Twilight Saga: New Moon - $140.7M - $140.7M
2. The Blind Side - $34.5M - $34.5M
3. 2012 - $26.5M - $108.2M
4. Planet 51 - $12.6M - $12.6M
5. A Christmas Carol - $12.2M - $79.7M
6. Precious - $11M - $21.4M
7. The Men Who Stare At Goats - $2.7M - $27.6M
8. Couples Retreat - $1.9M - $105M
9. The Fourth Kind - $1.7M - $23.3M
10. Law Abiding Citizen - $1.6M - $70M
This time last year Twilight opened to an impressive $69M before going on to earn a total of $192M on the domestic market. Jump forward a year and its sequel New Moon managed to make that opening weekend figure look like small change. Expectations were very high for New Moon and box office predictions ranged from $85-200M for the three day weekend. As the release date drew closer it was revealed by online ticket seller Fandango that New Moon had outsold The Dark Knight and Harry Potter 6 in advance ticket sales. Records were set to be smashed. Things kicked off quickly thanks to the midnight screenings on Friday morning and before the day was out it would be revealed that New Moon had smashed the midnight take record of $22.2M set by Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, with an astonishing $26.3M. But would an early rise mean a quick fall? Perhaps, but that didn't seem to be the case once the Friday totals had been issued. The Dark Knight had held the record with $67.2M, but thanks to very heavy front-loading (perhaps the heaviest we've seen) and repeat business New Moon finished up Friday with a jaw dropping $72.7M.
Obviously something had to give, and it did over the rest of the weekend - though not to depths that some had predicted. The strong Friday gave way to a softer Saturday and Sunday totals but that still left New Moon with the third best weekend take in cinema history, behind only Spiderman 3 and The Dark Knight. The film has obviously recouped its $50M production budget and comfortably recouped its advertising and prints budget too so this would be a very profitable movie even if Summit withdraw it from screens tomorrow. Let us also add that while figures are still coming in, it looks like New Moon did a further $118M from its overseas release, giving it a global weekend total of $258M.
Next weekend will be telling for the film, Twilight made almost half of its final box office total within the first five days of release and with the kind of front loading we're dealing with here it's safe to assume that even with repeat business, New Moon will fall quite hard. But by next weekend New Moon should have already seen $200M, just from its domestic screenings, so its unlikely Summit will have a single care in the world. Let's not forget that Twilight has a very limited appeal to the male 12-18 market and has similarly limited appeal to the older male (date night) demographic too. This means that Twilight did all that business thanks largely to its female fan base - a feat very few franchises could lay claim to.
With New Moon opening so wide and on so many screens it's hard to believe there were two other new releases lined up alongside at least one major returning player. Seeing her third release of the year, Sandra Bullock returns in The Blind Side, the true story of a homeless African-American teenager who finds himself taken in by a well to-do family who help him realise his potential, both academically and on the football field. With competition from the similarly themed Precious, The Blind Side had the advantage this week thanks to its star-attachment and a roll out into 3000+ locations. Reviews for the film were well above average (RottenTomatoes rating of 69%) and it seemed the film of choice for anyone not into the Twilight series or for those who'd already seen 2012 (or couldn't find Precious showing locally). After a misstep in September with All About Steve, Blind Side opens better then Bullock's huge summer hit the Proposal (opening weekend $33M). Budgetary details weren't available at the time of writing but it's unlikely this one cost more than $40M, a figure that The Blind Side should see some time on Monday evening. It should also see a decent hold over the coming thanksgiving holiday. 2009 has been Bullock's year.
2012 opened spectacularly last weekend but as expected for this kind of event flick, fell sharply from last weekend, with a Friday take that was down 65%. The film recovered somewhat over the rest of the weekend, seeing $100M sometime during Saturday, but was still down a nasty 60% for the weekend as a whole. The film is kicking up a storm on the international market, having sold close to $200M worth of tickets. This wasn't a cheap movie for Sony to produce and market but having a global total bordering on $300M after just ten days on general release should alleviate most fears in that regard. Roland Emmerich's biggest finish was Independence Day with $306M, a figure 2012 doesn't have a chance of worrying. The same however, can't be said of the $186M total of The Day After Tomorrow.
The little hyped Planet 51 manages a top five place with a total that has to be something of a disappointment. Apart from A Christmas Carol, Planet 51 is the only family friendly film in the top ten but it didn't have the appeal of some of the other CGI production we've seen in recent months and the fairly low figure reflects that. Reviews were terrible and while that doesn't always matter for a family film, it had to have had some impact on Planet 51's opening performance. This one won't stick around for long, especially with Fantastic Mr Fox expanding to 2000 locations next week, but may get something of a small reprieve due to Thanksgiving.
And so to A Christmas Carol, its drop on its third weekend of release was a bit higher than that of last weekend and it now faces the prospect of leaving the top ten without seeing much more than $100M. While the film is in it for the long haul, you can imagine Disney would have liked it to finish a little closer to recouping its $200M budget. Will this lead Disney to question the value of the type of motion capture technique that Zemeckis employed for A Christmas Carol in regard to future projects? Thanksgiving should offer some salvation but we're still on dangerous ground.
After a stunning performance in the past fortnight, Precious has to settle for sixth place and $11M this weekend. But look closer and you'll see it managed that figure from just 629 locations and was up against The Blind Side and its huge screen count (not to mention the other releases, both new and old). The Oprah Winfrey produced drama has now recouped its low budget of $10M and may yet see further expansion - provided Lionsgate don't wait too long because as we've seen a number of times before, the cinema-going public will only wait so long for a film to play their local cinema before giving up and waiting for the DVD release.
The Men Who Stare at Goats recoups its production budget this weekend but is pretty much done and dusted - just in time for two more George Clooney movies in the guise of the expanding Fantastic Mr Fox and the early December release of Up In The Air. Internationally the film should see another $25M+ but will be remembered for its title more than anything else. Seeing its last weekend in the top ten is thriller The Fourth Kind. The Milla Jovovich film has now doubled its rumoured $10M production budget and should see a decent return on DVD too.
Having made over $100M, Couples Retreat is simply treading water while waiting for newer releases to push it out of the top ten. The Gerard Butler revenge thriller Law Abiding Citizen saw $70M on Sunday, $20M clear of its production budget. The film will leave the charts after this weekend but has just begun its international release. Low budget wonder Paranormal Activity has had its day in the sun and should finish its domestic run with around $115M.
Opening at just 27 locations, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans earned $257K