Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cedric Diggory crushes Harry Potter. Twilight Saga: New Moon opens with $142 million. Weekend box office in review.

If you're a Batman fan or a general guy-centric geek, you're probably thinking "That was close... too close". If you're a Twi-fanatic, you're thinking something along the lines of "We'll get you next time Batman, next time!" (Eclipse comes out June 30th, 2010). Either way, Twilight Saga: New Moon pulled in a massive $142.8 million over its first three days. That's the third-biggest opening weekend of all time, behind Spider-Man 3 ($151 million) and The Dark Knight ($158 million). I discussed the Friday opening in much detail, so I'll try to avoid repetition (which is why I usually don't write posts concerning Friday box office). Let's dive right in...

Midnight - $26.2 million - Best midnight-3am gross.
Friday - $72.7 million - Best Friday ever and best single day ever.
Saturday - $42.2 million - 7th-biggest Saturday (-41% from Friday).
Sunday - $27.8 million - 17th-biggest Sunday (-34% from Saturday)

The Twilight franchise has become the first series to slightly increase its weekend multiplier between the first and second films. Sequels are by nature more highly anticipated and thus more likely to gross a bigger portion of its opening gross on the opening day. Twilight had the second-lowest weekend multiplier (that's total weekend divided by opening day) on record with 1.938x. New Moon actually decreased the multiplier by just a fraction (1.96x). As far as the original-to-sequel increase, New Moon improved upon its predecessors opening weekend by a 2.02 times. So it fits right above the Bourne series (there was 193% increase between Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy). And you all thought that list was a waste of time? Want some stunning comparisons? In two days, New Moon grossed $115.9 million, surpassing the (then record) $114.8 million three-day weekend for Spider-Man. In three days, New Moon surpassed the five-day opening gross of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix ($139 million), while coming up just $16 million short of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's five-day opening ($158 million). It out-grossed Prince Caspian's total $141.6 million domestic gross in three days. And the entire domestic gross of every non-Twilight film that Summit has released since November 2007 (starting with the underrated P2) is just $234 million. Whether that says more about Twilight or Summit Entertainment, I'll leave for you to decide, but New Moon will surpass the entire non-Twilight Summit catalog in the next week or two. Which means, in my personal opinion, Summit either needs to learn how to market non-Twilight product or get themselves sold before this series comes to an end.

Here's another fun statistic... the audience for this huge weekend was 80% female. So, if you looked anything like Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner and were willing to tag along at the movies this weekend, there's a pretty healthy chance that you got laid over the last 72 hours. Prurient humor aside, it's kinda refreshing to see a major franchise where the males are objectified more than the females. This opening weekend completely dispels one of the cardinal rules of thumb regarding movies, which is that a strong interest from both genders is necessary for a massive opening weekend and long-term playability. Iron Man opened to $98 million because girls wanted to see it as well as boys. 300 appealed to both sexes while Watchmen floundered because of its (alleged) strict boys appeal. And pretty much every major mega-opening was a stereotypical boy movie that had enough appeal for women to draw them into the theaters as well (conventional wisdom dictates that girls will see boy movies but boys won't sit through girl movies). Well, if you take out that 20% male audience, then you still get $114.1 million, which would still make it the biggest three-day weekend of 2009 and the eighth-biggest of all time. Take that, conventional wisdom. I wish the test case had been Whip It, but oh well.

So where does this leave the movie over the long run? It basically can run the boards for the next month, until the one-two punch of Avatar and Sherlock Holmes at the end of the year. There are only two movies that have opened with over $100 million and failed to reach $300 million. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire brought in $102.6 million on this same weekend in 2005, but ended up settling for a 'mere' $290 million. And X-Men: the Last Stand brought in $102.7 million as part of a $122 million four-day Memorial Day weekend in 2006, but audience discontent and general front-loading caused the movie to only make $234 million. And New Moon has a $40 million head-start and a general lack of demo competition, so it's likely game-set-match for Team Dakota... err Team Edward. Barring unprecedented collapse, New Moon will make it to $300 million. Despite the massively front-loaded weekend, the first film actually stuck around in theaters long enough to nearly make it to the $200 million mark. If it equals the total-gross multiplier of Twilight ($192.7 million/$69.6 million = 2.76), then it will end up with a boffo $394 million. However, it IS a sequel and it may very-well play like a quick-kill blockbuster. But even if it performs like the more frontloaded movies of 2009 (Madea Goes to Jail, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, etc) with around a 2.2x weekend-to-total multiplier, it still ends up with $314 million. Heck, if it surpasses The Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Experience as the most frontloaded movie of all time ($19.1 million divided by $12.5 million opening = 1.528x multiplier), that still nets the vampire sequel $218 million. Of course, that's about as likely to happen as the other extreme of it surpassing Titanic, but I do so enjoy doing the math.

Let's see... I think that about covers it. Oh, it scored $274 million worldwide for the sixth-biggest global debut of all-time (Harry Potter still gets to keep that record for now). So let's move on to the other movies. Second place went to The Blind Side, which in any other weekend would have been huge news. The 'would be implausible if it weren't true'-story involving a rich white family adopting a homeless black teen opened with $34.1 million. So yes, Sandra Bullock, an actress who previous to June of this year never had a single $20 million opening in her life, just scored her second $30 million+ of the year. For whatever reason, Sandra Bullock is a bigger star than she's ever been over the last fifteen years. For the moment, it appears that the next Sandra Bullock is... Sandra Bullock. The Blind Side scored the biggest debut for a sports drama, and it received a rare A+ from Cinemascore. The well-reviewed heart-warmer blanketed ads all over sports networks, using its football hook to draw in sports fans to compliment the (generally) female Sandra Bullock fans. As we all know, Sandra Bullock movies usually have fantastic legs (which usually belies their soft openings), so this could easily make it to $150 million by the start of 2010.

2012 dropped 59.5% in weekend two. The disaster epic grossed $26.4 million for a new domestic total of $108 million. On the plus side, the worldwide total is already $450 million for this $260 million-budgeted tentpoler. Sony's Planet 51 weathered terrible reviews to open with $12.2 million. It allegedly only cost $50 million, so it'll do just fine in the long run. It will actually be more harmful to the Sony Animation brand, as the company was riding high on the commercial and critical success of Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs ($122 million domestic gross). This is a bit like Billy Dee Williams following up his turn as Harvey Dent in Batman with Secret Agent Double-O Soul. A Christmas Carol took a 45% hit, which means it will really have to gain ground over the long holiday to close out Thanksgiving weekend with $100 million. It currently stands at $79.8 million. I'm running out of superlatives to use when discussing Precious, so I'll keep it brief. The film expanded to 629 screens and snagged an $10.8 million weekend for fifth place. That's still a scorching $17,300 per screen average. I did not know this, but apparently Oprah Winfrey announced the end of her talk-show on an episode that featured Precious star Gabourey Sidibe as a guest. Well-played, Winfrey. The would-be Oscar contender has now amassed $21 million without an end in sight.

That's all the news that's fit to print. Join us next weekend for the extra-long Thanksgiving holiday. Wide releases will be Ninja Assassin (most redundant title of the year?), Old Dogs and The Fantastic Mr. Fox (which is still stuck on four screens until Wednesday). Keep an eye on the Ninja Assassin numbers, as I'm expecting a decent debut as an offshoot of New Moon's opening. If you're one of the $28.5 million worth of dudes who got dragged to New Moon, could there be any more appropriate payback movie than something called Ninja Assassin? Limited release debuts include Disney's The Princess and the Frog (on two screens, both of which are priced much too high per ticket to take the risk associated with bringing my two-year old), Me and Orson Welles (starring Zac Efron), The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (starring tons of people worth seeing), and The Road. As in be thankful you're not living in Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic hell.

Scott Mendelson


Kyle Leaman said...

"So, if you looked anything like Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner and were willing to tag along at the movies this weekend, there's a pretty healthy chance that you got laid over the last 72 hours." Hilarious.

Have you seen Precious? Would love to hear your thoughts or read your review?

Kyle Leaman said...

"So, if you looked anything like Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner and were willing to tag along at the movies this weekend, there's a pretty healthy chance that you got laid over the last 72 hours." Hilarious.

Have you seen Precious? Would love to hear your thoughts or read your review?


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