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.
Scaring up more business than the rest of the films in the top ten combined, the horror prequel Paranormal Activity 3 shattered records with its top spot debut proving that the low-budget fright franchise still has a lot of life in it. But despite the massive debut and low declines for most holdovers, the overall box office was still down compared to last year as other newcomers like the adventure film The Three Musketeers and the comedy sequel Johnny English Reborn failed to contribute much to the North American marketplace.
This weekend, the worldwide protests against remakes came out in full force as the robot boxers of Real Steel squeaked out a victory over the 80s remakes of Footloose and The Thing, while the weekend's other new release The Big Year crashed and burned. Overall the box office dropped nearly 37% from last year.
This weekend, Hugh Jackman scored an easy victory over George Clooney in the battle of People magazine's former sexiest men alive as the robot boxing actioner Real Steel punched up a number one debut well ahead of the political thriller The Ides of March which played in one-third fewer theaters. Overall box office during the Columbus Day holiday weekend was decent but not exceptional with holdovers filling up the rest of the top ten.
Multiplexes across North America were busier than normal for this time of year as the hit re-release The Lion King 3D held onto the number one spot for a second frame driving the box office to a new record high for the month of September. Moviegoers also lined up for Seven partners Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as their new releases Moneyball and Dolphin Tale both debuted higher than expected in a close battle for second place. For the first time in history, three different films grossed north of $20M on the same September weekend as the Top 20 soared to a stellar $115M - a new record for the back-to-school month.
Just as it did 17 years ago when the original version first hit theaters, the new updated conversion The Lion King 3D opened in first place ruling the North American box office. Doubling industry expectations, the Disney smash grossed more than the weekend's three other new films combined. The action drama Drive generated a moderate debut in third while the thriller Straw Dogs and the comedy I Don't Know How She Does It both failed to excite moviegoing audiences.
This weekend, grossing as much as the rest of the top five combined, the virus thriller Contagion opened at number one topping a sluggish frame that saw ticket sales slump to a new low for the year. The Warner Bros. drama scored an estimated $23.1M bow from 3,222 theaters (including 257 higher-priced IMAX screens) for a sturdy $7,180 average playing to a mature adult crowd. The PG-13 film starring Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Marion Cotillard benefited from an intriguing end-of-world disaster plot, a well-respected cast led by six Oscar winners and nominees, strong reviews, weak competition, and a solid marketing push. Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh directed.
The North American box office slumped to its second lowest point of the year thanks to the lack of a breakout new hit plus a devastating hurricane wiping out plenty of business on the east coast. With tens of millions of people forced to stay home and many theaters shutting down for a day or two, moviegoing took a major hit across a large part of the country. But with films trying to pick up Saturday's lost business on Sunday, and the weather event hitting at a time when the marketplace is generally weak anyway, the overall impact was not incredibly severe.
This weekend, the sleeper hit The Help ruled the North American box office in its second weekend climbing into the number one spot beating out four new releases which all stumbled in their debuts. The book-based drama grossed an estimated $20.5M slipping a mere 21% in its sophomore session setting up what will be a long-lasting run into blockbuster territory. The Disney release averaged a stellar $7,613 from only 2,690 theaters and raised its 12-day cume to a solid $71.8M. Help should have no problem making its way to $130M and could even soar much higher beating out many of this summer's big-budget action offerings. Great reviews and strong word-of-mouth have made it into an event film for adults and appeal has been expanding beyond older females with more demographics discovering the story.
Despite four new films attacking the North American box office, the sci-fi actioner Rise of the Planet of the Apes remained strong enough to hold onto its spot at number one. But the big winner was found in second place as the book-based drama The Help soared above expectations - and all the other new releases - delivering a sensational opening weekend ahead of what could be a very long run in theaters. The 3D horror sequel Final Destination 5 and the action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less both scored decent debuts but the concert doc Glee Live! 3D was dead on arrival landing outside of the top ten.
Audiences all hailed Caesar as the primate at the center of the sci-fi prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes conquered the North American box office with an opening that rose well past industry expectations. Conversely, the latest in this summer's parade of R-rated comedies The Change-Up generated a lackluster debut finishing in fourth place. But the overall marketplace remained robust thanks to the incredible breadth of titles. For the first time all year, seven different films made over $10M over the weekend.
In a stunning development, two studios estimated the exact same opening weekend gross for their new big-budget summer films making for a tie for the number one spot at the North American box office. Sony's 3D kidpic The Smurfs performed well above expectations while Universal's action entry Cowboys & Aliens failed to meet its projected target. Each studio estimated a $36.2M weekend gross including a $10.1M Sunday figure. Once actual Sunday sales are counted on Monday, the true rankings will be decided.
This weekend, the fourth and final super hero film of the summer arrived and like its predecessors, Captain America: The First Avenger also debuted at number one although this one had to defeat the Harry Potter juggernaut in the process. Fellow freshman entry Friends With Benefits, a new sex comedy starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, debuted in third place. In between was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which suffered a steep fall in its second weekend but still posted a near-record 10-day cume. The overall box office was robust thanks to the recent wave of franchise films. The final piece of the Avengers puzzle fell into its place as Captain America scored a muscular opening weekend with an estimated $65.8M from 3,715 locations for a powerful $17,719 average.
This weekend, box office records of all kinds were demolished by the wildly anticipated franchise closer Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which generated the biggest opening in Hollywood history. The eighth and final chapter in the decade-long fantasy series opened to an eye-popping $168.6M from North America, according to estimates, plus an additional $307M from overseas markets which began running the film on Wednesday leading to a scorching worldwide launch of $475.6M. All three figures broke the all-time records beating The Dark Knight's $158.4M domestic opening weekend in July 2008, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' $260.4M international bow this past May, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's $394M global debut in July 2009.