With no new major releases, the North American box office slowed to a crawl this weekend as Summit’s blockbuster The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 stayed at the top of the heap for a third straight weekend. Paramount’s Hugo and Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants expanded to more theaters. With holiday shopping and festivities beginning to kick into gear, the top ten turned in one of its lowest gross all year, down 52% from last weekend and down 5% from last year at this time.
Off 60% from last weekend, Breaking Dawn earned an estimated $16.9 million from 4,046 screens to bring its three week total to the $247.3 million. The film is on track to earn $275-280 million in domestic ticket sales, lower than the $300 million earned by the previous chapter, Eclipse. Overseas, the film has earned a huge $341 million to bring its three-week global total to a terrific $588.3 million so far.
Disney’s well-received The Muppets suffered the biggest drop of any film in the top ten (-62%) but still managed to hold onto second place for a second weekend. Still hanging around on 3,440 screens, the comedy earned $11.2 million to bring its ten-day total to the $56.1 million mark. Depending on how well the movie holds up over the next few weeks leading into the lucrative Christmas week period, The Muppets could reach the $90-100 million mark by the end of its run.
After debuting on a limited 1,277 screens over the Thanksgiving holiday, Paramount’s 3D family flick Hugo added 563 theaters in its sophomore session. The result saw the movie withstand the post-holiday drop better than other films in the top ten. Off 33%, the Martin Scorsese-directed feature earned $7.6 million to bring its ten day total to the $25 million mark. If word-of-mouth can keep things moving along, Scorsese’s first family feature could reach the $55-60 million mark with an even bigger haul from the overseas market where Scorsese – and 3D films in general – are a huge draw.
Another 3D family feature that had a minimal drop from its holiday frame, Sony/Aardman’s Arthur Christmas, eased 39% to land in fourth place. The holiday cartoon earned $7.3 million on 3,776 screens to bring its ten-day total to the $25 million mark. Strong weekend matinee business by families that have already heralded the return of the Muppets may help propel Arthur to the $50 million mark before December 25th. Overseas, where Aardman Animation is a known brand name, the movie has earned a solid $45 million so far.
Hanging around in fifth place in its third weekend despite dropping a steep 56% was Warner’s 3D animated sequel Happy Feet Two. The box office disappointment tapped its way to an estimated $6 million from 3,536 theaters to bring its total to the $51.7 million mark. If the film manages to get a second wind from the upcoming holidays, the movie may finish its domestic run around the $70 million mark. Foreign markets should help cushion the financial blow as it rolls out over the next few weeks. So far, Happy Feet Two has earned a decent $34 million to bring its global total to the $85 million mark.
For the third weekend in a row, Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants expanded its theater count and continued its winning ways in limited release. Adding 184 theaters to bring its total to the 574 mark, the critically-acclaimed Alexander Payne feature earned an estimated $5.2 million to bring its total to the $18 million mark. According to Deadline Hollywood, the film became the first movie in limited release ever to hit the $10 million mark in its first 12 days. The movie will expand to 850 theater s on December 9th.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
6. Jack and Jill (Sony Pictures) $5.5 million (-45% from last weekend). $64.3 million to date
7. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) $5.2 million (-29%) $18.2 million
8. The Immortals (Relativity) $4.3 million (-50.5%) $75.6 million
9. Tower Heist (Universal) $4.1 million (-43%) $70.8 million
10. Puss In Boots (Paramount/Dreamworks) $3 million (-59.4%) $139.5 million
The week’s one debut, Fox Searchlight’s NC-17 drama Shame, had a blistering debut on ten screens for a $361,000 weekend total and a superb per-screen average of $36,100. Given the film’s rating and subject matter, Shame’s release pattern may be somewhat limited over the next few weeks. However, year-end awards and critical buzz may help push the film into regions that normally would not show a film of this nature.
Next weekend, Warner Brothers will debut the ensemble sequel to Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve. Fox will open the Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter, while Paramount will debut the Charlize Theron comedy Young Adult and Focus Features will open Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Both Oscar contender wannabes will debut on less than a dozen screens each (Young Adult goes wide on the 16th).
– Shawn Fitzgerald