Box Office Guru Wrapup: Girlpower Rules Again with Princess at #1
Invictus gets a red card.The Princess and the Frog to the number one spot in its first weekend of nationwide release. But the frame's only other wide opener, Clint Eastwood's Nelson Mandela drama Invictus, suffered a soft debut in third place. Overall, the North American box office remained ahead of the same frame from a year ago as 2009 continued on its record pace towards shattering the $10 billion mark for the first time ever.
In a cartoon world ruled by computer animation and 3D wizardry, Disney went old school with its traditionally drawn pic The Princess and the Frog which won the box office crown with an estimated $25M this weekend. Following two weeks of exclusive play at solo theaters in New York and Los Angeles, the G-rated tale set in 1920s New Orleans won over kids with a powerful $7,280 average from 3,434 theaters. Kidpics rarely break $20M on opening weekend in December unless they bow over the Christmas holiday frame. With holiday shopping and other activities becoming a top priority, parents often become less available for moviegoing at this time of year, but invade the multiplexes in large numbers come the 25th.
Sandra Bullock rushed past the $150M mark for the second time this year as her surprise football hit The Blind Side enjoyed another fantastic hold grossing an estimated $15.5M in its fourth weekend. Off a very slender 23%, the Warner Bros. hit lifted its domestic total to $150.2M becoming the record fifteenth movie of 2009 to break the century-and-a-half barrier - the most in any one year. Only eleven films surpassed that level in 2008. With Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, and other potential blockbusters still to come, that figure is sure to grow. Blind Side is on course to race past the $200M mark too.
The news wasn't as good for Warners in third place where its Clint Eastwood film Invictus ended up on its opening weekend. The Morgan Freeman-Matt Damon pic bowed to an estimated $9.1M from 2,125 theaters for a mild $4,275 average. The Nelson Mandela film debuted just like another Africa-set drama that the studio launched in mid-December - 2006's Blood Diamond. That Leonardo DiCaprio pic debuted to $8.6M from 1,910 sites for a $4,528 average on its way to a $57.4M final cume. Invictus is already a bigger player during awards season than Diamond ever was so it is likely to enjoy better legs in the weeks ahead.
Still, Invictus is no easy-sell with its story of South African politics and rugby plus its not-so-marketable title. Budgeted at $60M, the PG-13 film will need to rely on Best Actor kudos that Freeman is expected to receive for his acclaimed performance in order to attract a larger audience. He's already won in that category with the National Board of Review (in a tie with George Clooney for Up in the Air) and is expected to earn a Golden Globe nomination this Tuesday. A windfall of Globe nominations including Best Picture is what Invictus is hoping for to keep it relevant with movie audiences against a wave of much bigger films about to flood theaters over the holidays.
Dropping 48% to fourth place was The Twilight Saga: New Moon which pulled in another $8M, according to estimates, boosting the cume to $267.4M. The Summit release is the fifth biggest blockbuster of 2009 and still has a shot at reaching the triple century mark to challenge Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the number two spot for the year. James Cameron will also try to get in on that action with Avatar which invades theaters on Friday riding a hot wave of anticipation and stellar early reviews. New Moon now sits at number 43 on the all-time blockbusters list in between the first Shrek and second Potter.A Christmas Carol followed in fifth with an estimated $6.9M slipping a mere 12% in its sixth round for a $124.5M cume. The Jim Carrey starrer is performing just like the last motion capture Christmas flick from Robert Zemeckis, 2004's The Polar Express. That Tom Hanks vehicle dipped an identical 12% in its sixth weekend to a slightly better $8.4M pushing its total after six weekends to a similar $123.4M. But Carol has the advantages of five years of ticket price increases plus 3D surcharges so it is actually attracting a smaller audience. A final take of around $155M could be possible.
Lionsgate's solider story Brothers fell 48% in its second mission to an estimated $5M raising the ten-day total to $17.4M. A $30M final could result. Disney's star-driven comedy Old Dogs with John Travolta and Robin Williams slipped only 36% to an estimated $4.4M for a $40M sum.
The doomsday thriller 2012 grossed an estimated $4.4M, down just 35%, and climbed to $155.3M from North America. Sony's big-budget disaster flick ranks number 12 for the year having just zipped past the $155.1M of Fast & Furious. The foreign total climbed to an astounding $556M repping 78% of the $711.3M global gross. 2012 is the fourth largest worldwide blockbuster of 2009 and the biggest non-sequel of the year.Armored and Ninja Assassin taking in estimates of $3.5M and $2.7M, respectively. The Sony heist film dropped 46% and has made off with only $11.7M in its first ten days. Warner Bros. saw a 47% fall for its martial arts pic and has banked a decent $34.3M to date.
Two new releases enjoyed strong openings in their platform bows on Friday. Paramount's Peter Jackson-directed fantasy The Lovely Bones was met with some harsh reviews but scored an estimated $116,000 from just three sites for a powerful $38,667 average. The Weinstein Co. enjoyed a $24,036 opening weekend average for its Colin Firth drama A Single Man which debuted in nine locations to an estimated $216,000. Each film will expand to more cities in the weeks to come with Bones not scheduled to go wide until January 15.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $84.4M which was up 8% from last year when The Day the Earth Stood Still opened in the top spot with $30.5M; but down a steep 43% from 2007 when heavy hitters I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks debuted on top with $77.2M and $44.3M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!