Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Harry Potter and Tangled Dominate Thanksgiving Weekend
by Travis Leamons on November 29, 2010

When it comes to theatrical release strategy, one of the most coveted spots is July 4th. But not far behind is Thanksgiving. Taking full advantage of its huge opening last weekend, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows continued its box office success by retaining its first place finish from a week before. With that cushion from last week’s earnings the fantasy epic could suffer a 60% drop in attendance and still remain competitive against a new round of films that would have liked nothing better than to upstage the wizard with the lightning bolt scar.

With a $50 million weekend, this latest installment in the Harry Potter franchise is less than $90 million from surpassing Sorcerer’s Stone in terms of domestic gross.

While the older children may have went to see HP this weekend, the rest of the family were treated to Disney’s retelling of the Brothers Grim tale “Rapunzel” in Tangled. Early tracking estimates had the film earning in the $40 million range, but this CGI offering from the Mouse House managed an impressive $69 million haul during its first five days of release. With murmurs that this might be the last Disney princess movie for a long while, the studio did its best to market the film for boys, placing more attention on the male hero than the girl with the long flowing hair.

Megamind‘s third place finish ensured kid domination this Thanksgiving holiday. Gaining competition in the form of Harry Potter and Tangled, this 3D release from DreamWorks Animation got a boost in attendance and did close to $20 million during a five-day span in its fourth weekend of release. Of course the holiday gave it a much-needed shot in the arm, because the film isn’t getting nearly the raves like How to Train Your Dragon did earlier this year. Even with a strong showing overseas, DVD and Blu-ray numbers will most likely determine if Megamind 2: Electric Boogaloo gets made.

As family fare proved to be the big winners this Thanksgiving holiday, three other new mainstream titles acted like the leftover turkey that nobody wanted to touch. Coming in fourth place was Burlesque, a passion project by writer-director Steve Antin (you may remember him as the jock, Troy, in The Goonies) isn’t exactly Showgirls and it isn’t Chicago. It’s flashy but grating at times, with a story we’ve seen countless times before. Cher looks flattered just to be asked to star in a movie production (her last was 2003′s Stuck on You) and Christina Aguilera does her best to prove that she’s no longer a genie in bottle. Alan Cumming is wasted, but Stanley Tucci is as brilliant as always. Seriously, if there was a way that he could be in every major theatrical film I would sign the petition to make it happen. Since the passion project cost a rumored $55 million and drove a wedge between Antin and his boyfriend, I don’t see this having a very happy box office ending. But Antin’s involvement did have me rethink The Goonies just a bit. Remember the scene where Troy is driving and he’s trying to look down Annie’s skirt? Then he sees Bran in his side mirror pedaling on a girl’s bicycle with training wheels. When Troy grabs Bran’s hand and holds it down, the bike gains so much speed that the training wheels come off. Troy wasn’t doing it to prove how much of a jerk he was. Instead, the scene was a metaphor for how fast Troy’s heart beats in the presence of Bran. The part with wanting to sneak a peek at Annie’s undergarments shows his conflict of wanting to be with both Annie and Bran. Later, when Annie decides to be a Goonie and that she loves Bran, Troy is heartbroken because he wanted them both but can have neither.

A million short of Burlesque‘s opening was Unstoppable finishing its third weekend in the top ten. After three weeks it is a tad above $60 million. Not a great number considering its $100 million budget. Denzel Washington is pretty reliable with having his movies opening north of $20 million (seven out of his last eight have done so), but while he may get them in the first weekend, his track record of sustaining such an audience over time has proven difficult. But this matched with the overall performance of The Book of Eli from earlier this year proves that he is still a marquee name.

One of the worst casualties this weekend was Ed Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs. Definitely not a movie that screams “hey family, let’s go see this,” this downbeat romantic comedy may be the best romantic film of the year. Maligned by critics, its release is similar to Seven Pounds from a few years ago. That film opened in the month of December and made about $15 million in its first three days of release. It took Love five days to get to that mark.

CBS Films is now 0 for 3 when it comes to opening films to big numbers. They’ve tried it with a cast toplined by Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser (Extraordinary Measures), Jennifer Lopez (The Back-Up Plan) and now Dwayne Johnson in Faster. I thought Faster could have been a step in the right direction for CBS Films, since the studio has the Jason Statham actioneer The Mechanic arriving in January. At $12 million after its first five days, this $24 million-budgeted action thriller is Johnson’s first action flick in six years and could end up being the least successful film he’s ever starred. It’s not a bad flick, because Johnson is definitely “rock” solid, but for the charismatic actor it doesn’t bode well for future starring vehicles. Universal Studios wants the next Fast and Furious sequel to be a hit, because the studio wants to spin-off Johnson’s federal agent character and base a series of films around him. But if that doesn’t work, he’ll always have Fraser’s leftovers with the Journey to the Center of the Earth sequel, The Mysterious Island.

Getting a lot of Oscar buzz is a film that had a four screen opening this weekend, The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth. Earning $87,500 at each engagement it just may be the strongest per-screen average of any debut this year. The buzz must definitely be good if people are rushing to theaters to see a guy with a speech impediment. Fox Searchlight continues to expand its release of 127 Hours, but has only been able to earn $4.4 million after four weeks. Finally making it to $90 million was The Social Network in its ninth week of release. Another debut that not many people bothered to see was The Nutcracker in 3D. For a 3D movie to get a debut in 42 locations that’s pathetic. And its reviews aren’t that great either. Looks like it’s just a blip on the radar for holiday-themed movies. After this weekend, I don’t think you’ll see me mention in any future installments of the Inside Pulse Box Office Report.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I – $50.3 million ($220 million overall)
2. Tangled 3D – $49.1 million ($69 million overall)
3. Megamind 3D – $12.9 million ($130 million overall)
4. Burlesque – $11.8 million ($17 million overall)
5. Unstoppable – $11.7 million ($61 million overall)
6. Love and Other Drugs – $9.8 million ($14 million overall)
7. Faster – $8.7 million ($12 million overall)
8. Due Date – $7.3 million ($85 million overall)
9. The Next Three Days – $4.8 million ($15 million overall)
10. Morning Glory – $4 million ($26 million overall)



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