Despite a big drop, the teen-killing-teen epic The Hunger Games remained the most popular film leading the box office with more ticket sales in its second frame than the two new releases combined. The 3D action sequel Wrath of the Titans debuted in second place while the Snow White pic Mirror Mirror opened in third leading the marketplace to another sizable lead over year-ago levels.
Moviegoers poured into North American multiplexes for the hotly anticipated futuristic saga The Hunger Games which obliterated the competition with a jaw-dropping $155M opening weekend shattering records in the process. The PG-13 pic based on the wildly popular young adult novel about a future where teenagers are forced by a totalitarian government to compete in a fight to the death generated the third biggest opening weekend of all-time and the best ever for both a non-sequel and for a non-summer release. The only two bigger debuts were last summer's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169.2M including 3D surcharges and 2008's The Dark Knight with $158.4M. Both of those were released by Warner Bros. on the same mid-July weekend when all students were out of school. Landing in 4,137 theaters, Games averaged a scorching $37,467 per theater and was helped by 268 higher-priced IMAX venues.
Odd couple Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had North American moviegoers rolling in the aisles as their action-comedy remake 21 Jump Street debuted at number one with a terrific opening. No other film premiered in wide release and the overall marketplace fell below 2011 levels for the first time all year.
This weekend, Hollywood studios suffered failures of every kind with their new releases. The pricey actioner John Carter debuted in second place putting it far from where it needed to be to recover its enormous costs, the horror entry Silent House scored the lowest audience grade of the year, and Eddie Murphy's latest comedy A Thousand Words earned the worst reviews of 2012 from film critics. Instead, moviegoers once again made the animated comedy The Lorax the most popular film in North America and the overall box office continued to beat out last year's levels, although by a narrow margin.
Universal had cash registers ringing from coast to coast as its 3D animated smash The Lorax blasted past expectations to score the biggest opening of the year by far. The low-budget party film Project X, 2012's umpteenth overperformer, opened in second place with an impressive haul of its own. The one-two punch sent the North American box office soaring 26% ahead of the same weekend from last year continuing a boom year which has seen long lines at multiplexes.
American audiences were in the mood to support the troops as the Navy SEAL film Act of Valor ruled the Oscar frame with impressive results. Tyler Perry and Jennifer Aniston both saw some of the worst openings of their careers with their new offerings Good Deeds and Wanderlust, respectively, while Amanda Seyfried proved that she can't open a film on her own as her latest picture Gone was dead on arrival. Top Academy Award hopefuls continued to see respectable business outside the top ten from movie fans eager to see the likely winners before Sunday night's big ceremony.
Audiences poured into North American multiplexes sending grosses sky high as for the first time in box office history, four new releases simultaneously opened north of $20M each over a non-holiday frame. Plus, existing films managed relatively good holds despite the new competition. In fact, overall business even beat out the levels seen recently over the busy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's weekends.
Super Bowl weekend saw a fierce battle between two sensational teams as the new super hero pic Chronicle won a narrow victory over the horror flick The Woman in Black leading a busy frame at the North American box office. Both new releases beat expectations with $20M+ debuts, were low-cost projects, and successfully excited teens and young adults who have been so hard for studios to reach with non-sequels. The former went after the guys while the latter targeted the gals allowing both films to thrive. In fact, all three of the weekend's new releases - including the kid-friendly whale rescue pic Big Miracle - skewed heavily towards the under-25 crowd leading the overall box office to continue to exceed year-ago levels every frame this year.
This weekend, audiences turned out for Liam Neeson's latest thriller The Grey which topped a busy frame that saw three new action entries attack a North American box office that already had plenty of action offerings. Marking the first number one debut for rookie distributor Open Road, the R-rated Alaskan survival pic bowed to an estimated $20M from 3,185 theaters for a solid $6,279 average. Following Taken and Unknown, Neeson has emerged as a more cerebral action hero and has now anchored three number one hits over the past three years which is more than most other Hollywood stars like Robert Downey Jr., Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Matt Damon, or Denzel Washington.
Mark Wahlberg's action-thriller Contraband took control of the box office this weekend, while the latest Disney 3D re-release did relatively well and last weekend's champ crashed and burned in its second go around.
This weekend Tom Cruise rang in 2012 by being the top draw around the world once again as his latest action sequel Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol topped the box office over the long Friday-to-Monday New Year's holiday weekend. The Paramount release saw its four-day gross dip 13% to an estimated $38.3M which lifted the cume to a sturdy $141.2M allowing the new chapter to surpass the $134M final domestic take of the previous film in the series, 2006's Mission: Impossible 3, in a mere 18 days of release. Successfully reviving a franchise that was thought to be dead, the $145M-budgeted Ghost Protocol is now on track to reach the $200M mark while the global gross is on a trajectory to smash the $500M barrier.
This weekend, three big Hollywood sequels led the North American box office pumping in some badly needed new content but that didn't stop the overall marketplace from suffering double digit losses over last year and the year before. Studios are hoping that audiences are just busy right now with holiday shopping and end-of-year activities and that their films will be well-positioned to take advantage of the extra free time people will soon have in the days ahead.
This weekend two new subpar comedies and a stale heap of Thanksgiving leftovers made multiplexes the last place audiences wanted to go to as the North American box office slumped to its worst performance of 2011. The all-star holiday pic New Year's Eve and the Jonah Hill-led raunchy laugher The Sitter both met with lackluster debuts topping a weak frame that saw the Top 20 tumble to only $73.2M in ticket sales falling behind the year's previous low of $74M during the September 9-11 frame. But a wide assortment of major tentpoles and sequels are about to attack theaters starting Friday which should bring the marketplace back to life in the final two weeks of the year.
A hot leftover ruled the Thanksgiving holiday frame despite the opening of three new dishes all aimed at kids and families. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 tumbled 70% in its second weekend but still sold enough tickets to lead the competition with an estimated $42M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Across the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday session, the Summit blockbuster pulled in $62.3M bringing the ten-day total to a stellar $221.3M. The drop was identical to the decline that New Moon suffered two years ago on the same weekend. The latest Bella-Edward story is running 4% behind the domestic pace of New Moon which is not bad for the fourth film in a series. But thanks to an accelerated global release schedule, Breaking Dawn's current international cume of $268M (including $71.5M this weekend) is 10% ahead of New Moon's at the same point in time. Worldwide, the new saga's $489.3M is 3% ahead of Moon which ended its run with $713M.
This weekend, the wedding of the year attracted Bella and Edward fans around the world as the highly anticipated vampire sequel The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 crushed the competition across the globe debuting at number one. Not as warmly received in their return were the animated penguins of Happy Feet Two which opened in second place with only half the debut of its predecessor ahead of what will be a very competitive holiday season for kidpics. George Clooney's The Decendants rocked the specialty box office and even made it into the top ten despite playing in very few theaters. Overall, Twilight led the marketplace to a healthy improvement over last year which is quite a statement given that a new Harry Potter film launched at that time.
This weekend, Greek gods conquered the North American box office as the 3D adventure epic Immortals opened at number one while Adam Sandler's new comedy Jack and Jill and two-time chart-topper Puss in Boots fought over second place with virtually identical grosses. The new FBI biopic J. Edgar opened more like a Clint Eastwood film than a Leonardo DiCaprio one, settling into fifth place in its first weekend. Overall the marketplace saw healthy double digit gains over last year thanks in part to the Veterans Day holiday falling on Friday instead of Thursday this year. Multiplex activity is set to go even higher very soon with the Twilight juggernaut right around the corner.
In a surprise upset, the animated comedy Puss in Boots held onto the box office crown thanks to an astonishingly strong hold in the second frame while the competing new comedies Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas debuted in the silver and bronze positions, both performing on the lower end of expectations. The overall marketplace remained slow resulting in the worst gross for the first weekend of November in at least nine years.
The animated comedy Puss in Boots debuted at number one over the pre-Halloween frame while other new releases failed to generate much excitement averaging under $4,000 a piece. The overall marketplace got hit hard by a double whammy of game seven of the World Series on Friday which attracted over 25 million viewers followed by a powerful winter storm hitting the highly populated northeast region of the country on Saturday affecting tens of millions of people with unusually early snowfalls. Studio estimates may change significantly on Monday depending on how much lost business gets picked up on Sunday. Films with better word-of-mouth may also grab some of that lost cash in the weeks ahead if good buzz can spread.