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New Films Can't Compete Over Thanksgiving

November 30th, 2009

Thanksgiving was a record-breaking weekend in more than one way. First, total ticket sales amounted to $188 million over three days and $273 million over five, which is a record for the long weekend. Over the three-day portion of the weekend, the box office was actually down 28% from last weekend, but compared to last year it was up just under 16%, while the five-day total was nearly 17% higher. Year-to-date, 2009 has earned a total of $9.52 billion, which is 8.4% higher than the same point last year. In fact, 2009 is now the third-highest-grossing year of all-time and just $150 million away from earning the crown. Breaking the record for total box office is just a matter of when, not if, while 2009 could be the first year total ticket sales crack $10 billion.

New Moon was able to repeat on top of the chart, but it was close as the film fell just shy of 70% to earn $42.87 million over the three-day portion of the weekend. This massive drop-off was higher than a lot of analysts expected, but not completely unexpected. After all, the possibility was mentioned in the prediction column on Thursday. It is also worth noting that the film pulled in $66.27 million over five days, which was a lot closer to expectations, while its running tally is now $230.95 million, which makes it the sixth biggest hit of the year, so far. Going forward, we will likely continue to see sharp declines; however, $250 million by this time next week is all but assured, while $300 million is still within reach.

After Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock had to wait nearly a decade for her next $100 million hit. This time around she only had to wait six months. The Blind Side stunned analysts by earning $40.11 million over three days and $57.52 million over five to give it a total of $100.24 million after just ten days of release. The film grew by more than 17% over the three-day portion of the weekend, which bodes very well going forward. I'm not saying it will reach $200 million in total, but it could top The Proposal before its run is over.

2012 held firm over the weekend, adding $17.65 million / $25.22 million for a total of $138.45 million after three. The film should reach $150 million by this time next week, but that is likely its last major milestone, at least domestically. Its performance on the international chart has been a lot stronger so far.

The best new release of the weekend was Old Dogs, which only managed fourth place with $16.89 million / $24.23 million. This was substantially lower than Thursday's prediction; in fact, it barely made more over five days than it was expected to earn in three. Add in terrible reviews and the post-holiday weekend, and it will likely crash next weekend, while it could fade away before the Christmas school break.

Disney's A Christmas Carol performed better than expected, earning $15.76 million / $22.11 million over the weekend while it became the 26th film of the year to reach $100 million and currently sits at $104.93 million. It actually showed better growth over the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving weekend than The Polar Express did, while it has also earned more after 24 days. If it maintains this pace, it could make $150 million to $200 million in total, but it would need to surpass that figure to have a chance at earning a profit anytime soon.

The next best new release was Ninja Assassin, which opened with $13.32 million / $21.19 million. It started out better than expected, but then the reviews kicked in and it sunk faster as the weekend progressed. I don't expect the movie will turn around at this point, but with a reasonable production budget and an international feel, it could do well enough to show a profit early in its home market run.

The final wide release of the week was The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which expanded into more than 2,000 theaters and earned $6.97 million over the three-day weekend, $9.42 million over the five-day weekend, which gives it a total of $10.02 million so far. With amazing reviews it could have strong legs; however, with a weak per theater average, there's a chance many theaters owners will be unwilling to keep it long enough to matter.

Moving onto the sophomore class, we find Planet 51 in seventh place with $10.22 million / $13.90 million over the weekend and $28.49 million after two. Its Friday-through-Sunday figure was down 17% from last weekend, which was in line with expectations.


Filed under: The Twilight Saga: New Moon, The Blind Side, Disney's A Christmas Carol, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ninja Assassin, Planet 51, Old Dogs, 2012