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With holiday shopping and traveling slowing down multiplex traffic, new releases attracted low-to-moderate debuts allowing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to remain atop the chart in its second session. Four new films entered the top ten hoping not so much to score big openings, but to establish themselves in the marketplace as entertaining options once moviegoers become more available on Tuesday onwards for the Christmas holiday.
Fans of Middle Earth ended their long wait and charged into North American multiplexes powering the new fantasy adventure The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey into the number one spot breaking the December opening weekend record in the process. Audiences around the world made the Peter Jackson film the most popular movie on the planet as no other studio dared to challenge Bilbo Baggins and his gang with any other new releases.
In his fifth round of play, James Bond powered back into the number one spot as Skyfall topped the North American box office for the first time since its debut. With only one weak new film opening wide, the session saw a fight between holdovers driven by which had the lowest declines. With The Hobbit waiting in the wings ready to attack over 4,000 theaters this Friday, the marketplace saw a slowdown with most studios opting not to release anything new that was worthwhile.
The annual post-turkey blues kicked in as spending at the North American box office dropped by half compared to the record Thanksgiving frame with the top movies still in command. The only major new offering was Brad Pitt's mob pic Killing Them Softly which died on impact failing to attract much business.
Moviegoers across North America stampeded into theaters driving the box office up to a record-breaking Thanksgiving holiday frame led by a mix of commercial hits, family films, and Oscar hopefuls. It was a true team effort as no one film broke through $45M over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend period. However, the top ten did see seven movies in double-digit millions, five over $20M, and four pictures averaging more than $10,000 each. Almost every dish on the turkey menu connected with audiences with the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday span witnessing a jaw-dropping $290M in consumer spending, not counting the overpriced popcorn.
James Bond won a landslide victory at the North American box office which finally got the latest 007 adventure Skyfall which continued to break franchise records. The 23rd film in the 50-year-old series opened to an estimated $87.8M this weekend from 3,505 theaters for a stunning $25,050 average beating out lofty industry expectations to become the biggest Bond opening ever. Adding in Thursday's $2.2M from an early full-day launch in 463 premium large format screens (including 320 IMAX) the four-day bow came to an eye-popping $90M. Daniel Craig anchored for the third time, Judi Dench returned for her third decade in the series, and newcomers Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes joined the cast in this installment.
The holiday box office season started with a bang thanks to the one-two punch of two new releases that pulled in sold-out audiences - the animated video game comedy Wreck-It Ralph and the Denzel Washington drama Flight. The pair led the top ten to a healthy 19% jump over the same frame last year. And with tens of millions affected last week by the deadly hurricane Sandy, it was questionable what impact theaters would see but compelling product brought people out of their homes and into the multiplexes putting the film industry in a good position going into the final weeks of the year.
This weekend, with moviegoers yawning at the four new releases that Hollywood served up, the hit hostage crisis thriller Argo climbed up into the number one spot in its third frame leading an overall lackluster session. Ticket sales took an extra hit on the east coast as people prepared for the arrival of a monster storm set to impact highly populated areas putting an extra dent into an already weak marketplace.
Just like its two predecessors, Paranormal Activity 4 opened at number one in its pre-Halloween launch but showed signs of audience erosion too. The weekend's only other new wide release was the cop thriller Alex Cross starring Tyler Perry which did not impress and barely made the top five. Most holdovers enjoyed small declines as the overall marketplace remained healthy with the top ten films collecting over $100M in ticket sales for the fourth consecutive weekend.
The booming North American box office was ruled by two stars who have successfully rebranded themselves in recent years with Liam Neeson's action sequel Taken 2 remaining in first place for a second week in a row while Ben Affleck's hostage crisis thriller Argo led a five-pack of new releases with a solid debut in the runner-up spot. Also opening well was the new horror hit Sinister in third as the overall marketplace was once again sharply ahead of last year's grosses for a third straight weekend.
The North American box office bounced back to life thanks to a pair of new releases from Sony which drove the marketplace to the best September frame in history. The animated comedy Hotel Transylvania overperformed and checked into the number one spot while the studio's release of the sci-fi action pic Looper gave the it the runner-up spot too with over $64M in combined ticket sales leading the Top 20 to a potent $115M, a new high for what is normally the slowest month of the year. Especially noteworthy is that the weekend was driven by original films as none of the top six movies were sequels or based on well-known brands.
This weekend two new releases were in a dead heat for the number one spot while a third was very close behind making the race for the box office crown too close to call based on Sunday estimates. Final grosses to be reported on Monday will determine chart positions, but overall the North American box office remained dull once again posting double-digit declines from the same frame in recent years.
This weekend, two new 3D films from well-known brands led a box office rebound after last week's atrocious performance as the action sequel Resident Evil: Retribution opened at number one followed by the re-release of Finding Nemo 3D which settled for the runner-up spot. But despite the arrival of a pair of very different new films, the overall marketplace remained in the doldrums suffering double digit losses compared to the same frame from the last few years. Opening well in the top spot, Sony's Resident Evil: Retribution took the box office crown with an estimated $21.1M from 3,012 locations for a good $7,005 average, helped by higher prices from 3D and IMAX screens.
Tumbleweeds blew through North American multiplexes as the marketplace collapsed to its worst level in at least four years thanks to the end of the summer movie season and no new compelling films opening. Last week's top two films The Possession and Lawless held onto their positions, the new Bradley Cooper film The Words debuted poorly in third, and most holdovers enjoyed relatively low declines. Still, the top ten failed to break $50M and the Top 20 barely inched over the $60M mark making for an ocean of empty seats.
The summer of super heroes came to a close with a pair of new releases taking the top two spots at the North American box office over the four-day Labor Day holiday frame while comic book hits continued their global domination passing new milestones. The horror pic The Possession debuted at number one, the period crime drama Lawless bowed in second place and holdovers filled up the rest of the top ten with mostly small declines thanks to Monday being a holiday. Overall ticket sales were on par with what the industry has seen recently over this summer-ending frame.
This weekend, the end-of-summer blues kicked in as the North American box office slumped to its worst performance of the year. Three new films failed to make any significant dent into the marketplace while the political documentary 2016 Obama's America enjoyed a strong national expansion jumping into the top ten. Sylvester Stallone's action sequel The Expendables 2 topped the charts for the second straight weekend as holdovers took up the top six chart positions.