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This weekend, princess power ruled the North American box office as Disney and Pixar's Brave opened at number one setting a new record for the biggest debut ever for an animated film centered around a female character. The weekend's other new releases were not met with as much enthusiasm as the stylish action thriller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter premiered in third place with moderate numbers while Steve Carell's Seeking A Friend for the End of the World was dead on arrival in tenth place. The overall marketplace was down again from a year ago when Pixar also reigned supreme. Moms, daughters, and others lined up for Brave.
This weekend, in a situation eerily similar to one in June of 2010, an animated threequel in its second weekend held off the openings of films from box office heavyweights Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler. Except this year, it was much, much worse.
The North American summer box office jolted back to life after a three-week slump thanks to a pair of powerful new 3D flicks - the animated sequel Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and the sci-fi chiller Prometheus - which kicked in over $110M in combined ticket sales. The overall marketplace surged 30% over last year's which was a healthy gain after recent weeks saw box office numbers trail last summer's.
Universal scored a big box office victory with the better-than-expected opening of its expensive fairy tale adventure Snow White and the Huntsman which captured the number one spot driven by strong fan demand. The PG-13 film grossed an estimated $56.3M from 3,773 theaters for a muscular $14,910 average and delivered the best opening weekend of the summer for any non-Avengers film. In fact, the sword-wielding princess even beat out the $54.6M debut of last weekend's Men in Black 3 which got a boost from 3D surcharges, a holiday opening, and nearly 500 more theaters. It's also grossed more in three days than studio stablemate Battleship has made in three weeks.
Will Smith made his long-awaited return to multiplexes and seized the number one spot at the North American box office with his new sci-fi sequel Men in Black 3 which booted The Avengers down to second place in its fourth weekend. But fewer people came out to greet the 3D alien comedy compared to the two previous installments prompting the top ten to fall by a troubling 31% from last year's four-day Memorial Day holiday session.
Dominating the box office for a third weekend in a row and turning all competitors into casualties of war, The Avengers held on firmly to the number one spot breaking more records in the process. Audiences were not very excited about the new releases as the big-budget action tentpole Battleship suffered a poor opening in second place, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator failed to match the raunchy funnyman's past performances, and the all-star pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You're Expecting debuted in fifth with weak results. It was the first time in fourteen years that the normally-busy weekend before the Memorial Day holiday frame failed to deliver any $35M+ openings causing the top ten to fall below both last year's and 2010's levels.
Still grossing far more than all other movies combined in its second weekend, the mighty super hero megahit The Avengers easily held onto its crown at the North American box office while the worldwide tally smashed the $1 billion mark in a mere 19 days with plenty of worldwide fuel still in the tank. Johnny Depp's latest eccentric offering Dark Shadows opened in second place as expected but with a smaller audience than had been anticipated while many holdovers enjoyed small declines. Disney and Marvel celebrated another weekend of sheer dominance as The Avengers followed its record-shattering opening frame with a very good hold dropping 50% to an astounding $103.2M.
North American audiences got a big taste of what international movie fans have already been enjoying as the super hero value pack The Avengers smashed the all-time opening weekend record kickstarting the summer blockbuster season in an unbelievable manner. Marketed and distributed by Disney, the PG-13 film grossed a jaw-dropping $200.3M over the Friday-to-Sunday period obliterating the previous record of $169.2M set last July by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 surpassing it by more than $30M. Both films were helped by 3D and IMAX runs. Playing in 4,349 locations, the per-theater average was a scorching $46,063.
Four new releases assembled at the North American box office but none had the strength to unseat the hit comedy Think Like A Man from the number one spot. The last weekend of April is usually a dumping ground for films with uncertain commercial appeal and this year studios used the frame to jettison its late-spring waste before heading into what should be a red hot summer season. All four new films failed to reach a $4,000 average and the three R-rated pics do not look to have much of a future.
This weekend, proving for the umpteenth time that African American casts can bring in the big bucks, Sony's Think Like a Man exploded into the top spot at the box office while the romance of The Lucky One debuted solidly in second. Both films knocked 4-time champ The Hunger Games from the top slot.
Audiences made The Hunger Games the first film since Avatar to hold the number one spot for four consecutive frames as the runaway smash hit fended off competition from a trio of new releases. The Lionsgate pic held up incredibly well dropping only 35% to an estimated $21.5M which was enough to lead the box office field. The decline was its smallest yet and especially impressive since it was coming off of the Easter holiday session. Hunger Games has now amassed a stunning $337.1M in only 24 days of release shooting it up to number 22 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just ahead of the $336.5M of 2007's Spider Man 3. The Katniss sensation is now on course to outgross every Harry Potter and Twilight film in North America, even the final Hogwarts pic which was helped by 3D surcharges.
North American moviegoers made The Hunger Games the first film of the year to spend three straight weeks at number one as the runaway blockbuster easily topped the Easter frame and shattered the $300M milestone in the process. 1990s nostalgia led the comedy sequel American Reunion to open in second place and the 3D re-release of Titanic to bow in third. Only one film fell into the normally wide range of $1M to $10M this weekend as a handful of pics accounted for almost all of the business over the holiday session which was about even with last year's bunny session.
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.