Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekend Box Office (12/05/10): Black Swan soars in limited release, while holdovers tumble and Warrior's Way fumbles.

There was but a single new wide-release this weekend, as the weekend after Thanksgiving is a scary time for Hollywood. Few studios are willing to risk dealing with the post-holiday hangover, so this weekend brings just The Warrior's Way. But we'll get to that in a minute. First off, Tangled took the box office crown in its second weekend, dropping just a bit less than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I, which was enough to score the number one slot. The Disney animated fairy tale grossed $21.6 million, which accounts for a somewhat troubling 55% drop in weekend two. With $96.5 million in twelve days, getting to $200 million is no longer the sure-thing that I pegged last weekend. Still, the film is Disney's biggest non-Pixar hit in quite a long time. It's about $13 million ahead of Chicken Little at the end of its respective weekend, about $26 million ahead of Enchanted at the end of its post-Thanksgiving weekend twelfth day, and it's nearly $31 million ahead of Bolt at the same interval. It will outgross Princess and the Frog next weekend and has pretty much passed Meet the Robinsons as of today. So by any rational standard, the film is a big win for the Mouse House, even if the film did cost (allegedly) $260 million to make. If that's true, then it will still be a very long time before Tangled gets in the black, although the likely trillions of dollars in merchandise sold will likely help ease the over-budgeting.

Second went to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I, which pulled in $17 million in its third weekend. The drop was heavy (-65%), but frankly not too far off from similar post-Thanksgiving plunges for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (-53%), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (-68%), and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (-63%).With $244.5 million in the bank by the end of day 17, the seventh Harry Potter sequel has nearly surpassed the domestic gross of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ($249 million), and is barely outpacing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($243 million in seventeen days, but $255 million in nineteen days at the end of weekend three) to remain, for the moment, the fastest-grossing film in the franchise. At this point, the film should reach at least $290 million (or about what the last three sequels grossed), but the franchise will have to wait for the grand finale to see a major domestic gross bump.

The lone new wide-release this weekend was The Warrior's Way, which debuted in ninth place with just $3 million, for a $1,880 per-screen average. To make matters worse, the two-years delayed, $42 million western/martial arts hybrid scored a "C-" from CinemaScore. Nothing more to see here, folks. The other big new release opened on just 18 screens. Black Swan, the critically-acclaimed Darren Aronofski ballet horror film opened with a whopping $1.4 million for a shockingly-good $80,202 per-screen average. The Natalie Portman Oscar-bait thriller scored one of the largest debuts for a small release ever. On films playing on seven or more screens, the films's average behind only Precious, which scored $104,025 per screen on 18 screens last November. It will quickly expand over the next couple weeks, so we'll see if it becomes the 'it' Oscar bait film of the season (ALA Brokeback Mountain, Juno or Slumdog Millionaire).

In other limited release news, The King's Speech expanded to six screens and didn't miss a beat, pulling down a whopping $54,086 per-screen, which may be a record for a non-opening weekend per-screen average for anything other than Disney cartoons, but I honestly don't know for sure. I presume the Colin Firth dramedy goes wider next weekend. Debuting in just two theaters, the Magnolia true-life crime drama All Good Things pulled in $18,856 per screen, which is pretty impressive considering it's readily available on Video On Demand. The much-delayed Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor true-crime romance I Love You, Phillip Morris debuted to pretty solid reviews and $112,520 on six screens.

In general holdover news, the adult entries (Unstoppable, Love and Other Drugs, Burlesque) held their ground, with drops under 50%. The Anne Hathaway rom-com dropped 42%, which extra evidence that the R-rated film should have debuted this weekend instead of the crowded family-centric Thanksgiving weekend (new total: $22.5 million). Unstoppable has now grossed $68.7 million, surpassing The Taking of Pelham 123, Deja Vu, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Bone Collector. Due Date crossed $90 million and Megamind sits with $136 million. 127 Hours expanded to 433 screens to the sounds of general indifference or fear. The James Franco vehicle grossed just $1.6 million for a middling $3,739 per-screen average. It's not a terrible number, but considering that the film's media-interest level has probably peaked, it's unlikely that the Danny Boyle picture will do that much over $10 million, give-or-take awards-season traction (it's currently at $6.5 million).

That's it for this weekend. Join us next weekend for the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp thriller The Tourist and The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (where Fox picks up the Narnia franchise from Disney and hopes for the best). In limited release, Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo, and Christan Bale work out their family issues while boxing in The Fighter, and the Ben Affleck/Chris Cooper/Tommy Lee Jones drama The Company Men makes its Oscar-qualifying debut before being pushed into a January wide-release.

Scott Mendelson

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