The end of the Mayan calendar may be fast approaching, but if it is truly the end of the world, Twihards will have lived seeing the conclusion of the Twilight series on the big screen. Once again, Bella and Edward reign supreme making a blood pact while the rest of the movie business does solid returns in its wake. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 closes the chapter on Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling series of books with an estimated $141 million three-day opening. While it may be the end of the Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner playing these characters, Lionsgate, who purchased Summit Entertainment earlier this year, would be foolish to let this cash cow rest. It produces $100 million openings, so if Sony Pictures can reboot Spider-Man a decade after the first film was released, expect the same for Lionsgate and the Twilight series.
The $141 million opening is strong, but only slightly better than Breaking Dawn – Part 1. It couldn’t eclipse New Moon, the second film in the series. What does this tell us? The films could never expand outside of its target audience. I mean look at The Avengers. Sure, along the way it took some dips, with the Iron Man franchise being the biggest breadwinner of the Avengers unit, but the convergence of the superheroes broke box office records in the process. The same could also be said of Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond, but the first in four years (more on that film in a sec).
But if Lionsgate is content to give the fans what they want, the the quality and critical approval doesn’t matter one iota. The opening was enough to make it the eighth-best domestic opening of all time, with a total gross of $340.9 million worldwide, and a franchise total that’s just shy of $3 billion across five movies. Such money would make the Volturi stand down. The series may be done for now, but a slog of YA adaptations are on their way in the coming year including Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. While it may be getting lumped into the YA discussion, I can’t wait for Summit’s Warm Bodies about a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who learns to have a heart thanks to his infatuation with Kristen Stewart’s better-looking doppelganger Teresa Palmer.
Last week Skyfall opened in the U.S. to impressive numbers. This week it took its expected drop with the arrival of the final installment in the Twilight series. Losing 51% of its first weekend audience the plunge isn’t nearly as bad as Quantum of Solace‘s 60% drop four years ago with the arrival of the original Twilight. By Thanksgiving, Skyfall will overtake both Casino Royale and Solace to become the most successful Bond film domestically. Already, its total worldwide is a very sizable $669.2 million, well ahead of Royale‘s $599 million. And it’s only been out for less than a month. How do you like them apple martinis?
Opening in a few markets on November 9th, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln had slow expansion this weekend landing at 1.775 locations. For its first weekend as a semi-wide release the picture had a very impressive per-screen average of $11,831, which was nearly on par with Skyfall despite playing in fewer locations. Released in accordance with last year’s War Horse, Spielberg once again has another prestige release in theaters. However, unlike War Horse, Lincoln looks to be gunning for a ton of Oscars, including acting honors in the lead and supporting categories. Considering that the viewing audience is primarily single-parent adults in their 40s and 50s, I fully expect this one to get a sizable bump during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with parents and grandparents insistent on forgoing shopping in favor of a 2.5 hour history lesson.
Wreck-It Ralph suffers another nominal drop in its third weekend, nothing major, but it does suggest that it will be hard for this one to reach $200 million domestic. This coming week it will be challenged with the arrival of Rise of the Guardians in theaters and it is another movie that has been getting some awards chatter. Robert Zemeckis’ Flight is at $61 million after three weeks. Paramount’s platform approach has helped to sustain interest just like it did when the studio released The Fighter several years ago. But $60 million after three weeks is pretty solid considering it is an R-rated drama.
The other R-rated drama in the top 10 getting awards buzz is Ben Affleck’s Argo. By the end of Thanksgiving weekend it will have surpassed $100 million. That will become Affleck’s biggest hit in the director’s chair and fully solidifies him as a bankable director to go with his leading man status. Taken 2 is still around in the top 10 and has at least one more week before the film is taken away from the countdown completely. The franchise has the last laugh, however. While it is $10 million from surpassing the domestic total of Taken, worldwide Taken 2 has bettered its predecessor by more than $126 million.
Pitch Perfect and Here Comes the Boom are exiting the top ten this week, each having crossed $60 and $40 million, respectively. Our number 10 finisher is up in the air at the moment. Early estimates have Cloud Atlas holding on to finish in tenth. Other outlets say it could be The Sessions, Hotel Transylvania or the Bollywood release Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which had strong returns at 161 locations.
Two newcomers in limited release, Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina and Silver Linings Playbook, had small roll outs over the weekend. Karenina opened at 16 locations and was greeted with $315k. Playbook was originally going to have a much larger release over the weekend, but the Weinstein Company decided to go with a platform approach before unleashing it in 400+ theaters Thanksgiving weekend. The end result was a $458k debut on at 16 locations. Supposedly, this will also be a big awards contender for a number of categories including Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper) and Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence). We shall see.
Tags: Anna Karenina, Argo, box office, box office report, Breaking Dawn, Cloud Atlas, Flight, Here comes the boom, lincoln, pitch perfect, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall, Taken 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Twilight, weekend box office, weekend box office report, Wreck-It Ralph