Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: New Moon Shatters Records

Also: moviegoers rather look to The Blind Side than Planet 51.

by | November 22, 2009 | Comments

Multiplex cash registers were overflowing as the hotly-anticipated vampire
sequel The
Twilight Saga: New Moon
opened to gargantuan numbers generating the
third largest opening in box office history and led the overall marketplace to
the second biggest weekend tally of all-time. Debuting far back in second, but
also surging past industry expectations, was Sandra Bullock’s new football pic
The Blind Side
which got off to a fantastic start. The two new female-driven films attracted
over $175M in combined ticket sales leading the top ten to soar to a
jaw-dropping $245M.

Audiences wanted monster love as
The Twilight
Saga: New Moon
stunned the film industry by beating what were already
sky-high expectations opening to an estimated $140.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday
period. That gave Summit the third best opening weekend ever trailing the super
hero duo of The
Dark Knight
($158.4M in July 2008) and
Spider-Man 3

($151.1M in May 2007). However, New Moon did break the all-time records
for highest post-midnight grosses on the night before opening day with $26.3M
and the best opening day with $72.7M. The records were formerly held by

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
and The Dark Knight with
$22.2M and $67.2M, respectively. The Twilight sequel cost only $50M to
produce while the others cost well over $200M each.[rtimage]MapID=1206167&MapTypeID=2&photo=52&legacy=1[/rtimage]The Bella Swan love story grossed more in its first day than its predecessor
did in its entire opening weekend. That film bowed this weekend
with $69.6M on its way to $191.5M from North America and $384M worldwide.
Following New Moon‘s record opening day, the PG-13 film tumbled 41% to
$43.2M on Saturday and is estimated to drop another 43% to $24.8M on Sunday. The
Friday-to-Saturday decline was identical to Twilight‘s which is quite
remarkable given how the new installment had much more fan hysteria surrounding
it and 605 more theaters leading one to think it would absorb more of its total
business upfront on the first day. Both installments earned 52% of the total
weekend gross on Friday.

Other records set include best November bow and best non-summer opening
surpassing the $102.3M of

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
which had set both of those
milestones four years ago this very weekend. Young women have been the driving
force behind the Cullen franchise since the publication of the popular books,
but mature women have also made up a sizable portion of the fan base. Studio
research showed that 80% of the audience this weekend was female with those over
and under age 21 evenly split. That translates to females under the age of 21
spending about $56M this weekend to see Kristin Stewart choose between Robert
Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.[rtimage]MapID=1206167&MapTypeID=2&photo=50&legacy=1[/rtimage]As if the domestic performance was not impressive enough, New Moon
attacked 25 foreign markets this weekend too and hauled in an estimated $118.1M
making for a staggering global debut of $258.8M. Summit has worldwide rights but
has assorted distributors doing the releases across the globe. The company has
already filmed the third pic in the series, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,
which will be ready for a June 30 release when students will be out of school
and ready for more from the vampire-werewolf teen tale. The date is the
Wednesday before the long Independence Day holiday frame.

Led by Twilight, the overall marketplace surged to the second highest
total in box office history trailing only the July 18-20 frame last year when
The Dark Knight
had its record bow and Mamma Mia debuted well in
second. The Top 20 that frame pulled in $257.6M while this weekend’s will come
very close with $254M, if estimates hold. Also amazing this weekend was that
despite the sheer domination of New Moon, moviegoers still found time to
spend another $105M on the rest of the films in the top ten. That bodes well for
the upcoming five-day Thanksgiving holiday session which kicks off on Wednesday.

Five months after breaking her career opening weekend record, Sandra Bullock did
it again with the football drama
The Blind Side

which performed much better than expected with a $34.5M debut, according to
estimates. The figure edged out the $33.6M bow of her hit summer comedy The
which gave America’s favorite bus driver her previous best mark.
Opening in 3,110 locations, the Warner Bros. release averaged a sturdy $11,096
per site. Reviews were generally good and football movies often draw large
crowds. Based on a true story, Blind Side tells of a homeless black youth
taken in by a rich white family that helps him launch a successful football
career.[rtimage]MapID=1206167&MapTypeID=2&photo=54&legacy=1[/rtimage]The PG-13 film was expected to collect about half as much since its older female
audience would be distracted by Twilight which has a large fan base of
moms. But the marketplace expanded and had plenty of room for both. The blonde
Bullock’s film skewed 59% female and 75% to those 25 or older, according to
studio research. The road ahead looks bright with the actress set to score her
second $100M blockbuster of the year after nearly a decade without any.[rtimage]MapID=1212694&MapTypeID=2&photo=28&legacy=1[/rtimage]After a
huge top spot debut last weekend, the doomsday actioner
plunged 59% to an
estimated $26.5M and ranked third for the frame. The pricey $200M film has
grossed $108.2M in ten days in North America and looks to reach the vicinity of
$160M domestically. Overseas, the global disaster pic remained a red hot
performer grossing an additional $100.5M to boost its international tally to
$341.1M and the worldwide haul to a stunning $449.3M. 2012 is already the
seventh biggest global blockbuster of the year and in another week it will
shatter the half-billion mark and leap into the top five.

Sony didn’t fare too well with the animated comedy
Planet 51
bowed in fourth with a lukewarm $12.6M, according to estimates. The PG-rated
toon landed in 3,035 theaters and averaged a mild $4,152 per site. Produced by
Spain’s Ilion Animation Studios, the pic features Dwayne Johnson voicing a U.S.
astronaut that touches down on a planet he thinks is barren only to discover a
civilization of green beings that resembles 1950s America. Reviews were bad and
the 2D look just wasn’t what kids were looking for in a world now dominated by
3D animation. Sony is hoping to pick up some more families over the coming
holiday weekend, although that audience will get fragmented since Disney
launches the Robin Williams-John Travolta starrer Old Dogs and Fox goes
nationwide with its animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox.[rtimage]MapID=1200415&MapTypeID=2&photo=40&legacy=1[/rtimage]Disney’s
A Christmas Carol
fell 45% to an estimated $12.2M in its third round
pushing the total to $79.8M. The expensive Jim Carrey-starrer will try to crack
the $100M mark over the long Thanksgiving holiday when yuletide movies often see
their weekend grosses rise.

In its third weekend, Lionsgate’s awards contender
into moderate national release and nearly doubled its weekend gross with an
estimated $11M. Widening from 174 locations in ten markets to 629 theaters in
over 100 cities, the R-rated hit averaged a fantastic $17,501 per location and
lifted its total to $21.4M. By comparison, Oscar winner No Country For Old
expanded nationally this same weekend in 2007 from 148 to 860 theaters
while also in its third session and grossed $7.8M for a weaker $9,043 average.
Its 17-day cume was $16.3M representing just 22% of its eventual $74.3M final
domestic tally. Precious will add more venues on Wednesday for the
holiday weekend.

Little cash was left for the rest of the films in the marketplace. Overture’s
George Clooney military pic
The Men Who
Stare at Goats
finished in seventh place with an estimated $2.8M, down
53%, for a $27.6M total for Overture after 17 days. Universal’s hit comedy
Couples Retreat

followed dropping 53% to an estimated $2M boosting the cume to $105M. The studio
saw a larger 62% tumble for its supernatural thriller
The Fourth Kind

with an estimated $1.7M and $23.3M sum. Overture ranked tenth with its
successful revenge actioner Law Abiding Citizen with an estimated $1.6M, off
58%, for a solid $70M cume.[rtimage]MapID=1217605&MapTypeID=2&photo=30&legacy=1[/rtimage]The top ten films soared to dizzying heights grossing an estimated $245.6M which
was up a stellar 59% from last year when
opened in
the top spot with $69.6M; and up a remarkable 76% from 2007 when
at number one with $34.4M.