Breaking Dawn Holds Off Muppets to Win Thanksgiving Box Office Weekend

Breaking Dawn Holds Off Muppets to Win Thanksgiving Box Office WeekendFor the second week in a row, Summit’s blockbuster The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 ruled the North American box office by a wide margin. The film easily held off the openings of The Muppets, Arthur Christmas and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo over the long Thanksgiving weekend while crossing the $200 million mark in less than ten days. Overall, the top ten was off a 30% from last weekend when Breaking Dawn brought in a whopping $138 million alone, and roughly 11% from Thanksgiving weekend one year ago.

Dropping nearly 70% in its second round, the result of upfront demand from the franchise faithful, Breaking Dawn Part 1 nonetheless comfortably remained at the number one spot. For the weekend, the first part of the Twilight finale bit into an estimated $42 million from 4,066 theaters to bring its ten day domestic total to a great $221.3 million. After ten days, the film is currently trailing the previous chapters in the series New Moon ($231 million after ten days of release) and Eclipse ($235.3 million). Depending on how fast the film continues to cool off at the box office, Breaking Dawn could eventually match or perhaps even surpass the $300.5 million total generated by Eclipse in the summer of 2010.

Three family-oriented features debuted last Wednesday to solid critical notices but box office numbers that ranged from good to mediocre. Following a great marketing campaign that spanned over the past year or so (if you haven’t seen the Internet spoof trailers, be sure to do so), Disney finally debuted The Muppets on 3,440 screens to earn an estimated $29.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday timeframe for a solid $8,576 per screen average, and an estimated $42 million in sales since its opening five days ago. The film scored a great 98% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a solid ‘A’ rating from ticket buyers polled on CinemaScore, which should help the movie move along quite nicely through the holiday season.

After debuting to disappointing numbers last weekend, Warner Brothers’ animated 3D sequel Happy Feet Two displayed a decent hold over the Thanksgiving weekend. Dropping a moderate 36%, the flick earned an estimated $13.4 million in its second round to bring its ten-day total to the $43.7 million mark. The film should dance its way to the $70 million mark by the end of its run, a far cry from the $198 million bagged by the 2006 original. It will have to look to foreign ticket sales to make up for the deficit.

In fourth place was the latest effort from Wallace and Gromitt creators Aardman animation, Arthur Christmas. Distributed by Sony Pictures, the 3D animated comedy received a terrific 92% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating and like The Muppets, it too earned an ‘A’ CinemaScore rating. However, that didn’t automatically translate into big box office. Over the weekend, the movie earned a so-so $12.7 million on 3,376 screens and $17 million since last Wednesday. Word-of-mouth will have to propel Arthur should he wish to make it until Christmas in the theaters.

In fifth place was the third debut of the holiday frame, Paramount’s live-action 3D family movie Hugo. Directed by Martin Scorsese (yes, the same Marty that directed The Departed and Gangs of New York among others), the film had a weekend gross of $11.3 million from a limited 1,277 screen count. The $8,888 per screen average was the best of the newcomers. The critically-praised feature (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) has earned $15.3 million since last Wednesday. Should word-of-mouth sustain the new Scorsese film, Paramount will continue to add screens over the next few weeks.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

6. Jack and Jill (Sony Pictures) $10.3 million (-12.3% from last weekend) $57.4 million to date

7. Immortals (Relativity) $8.8 million (-29%) $68.8 million

8. Puss In Boots (Paramount/Dreamworks) $7.5 million (-31%) $135.5 million

9. Tower Heist (Universal) $7.3 million (+3%) $65.3 million

Rounding out the top ten once again with spectacular numbers was Fox Searchlight’s comedy/drama The Descendants, which expanded its screen count from 29 to 433 theaters to earn $7.2 million over the weekend for a terrific per-screen average of $16,628. After twelve days of release, the Alexander Payne-directed Oscar contender has earned $10.7 million and should continue its winning ways thanks to nationwide expansion during the December timeframe and award-season accolades.

Next weekend, only one film is scheduled to be released, the NC-17 Fox Searchlight drama Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. The film will open on only nine screens.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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