In what's heading to be the biggest Thanksgiving weekend ever, the two specialty films with the greatest expectations underperformed against an unusually high quality batch of studio films.
Fox Searchlight opened "Hitchcock" on 17 screens Friday. The film — which stars Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as his wife Alma — grossed $112,092 for a $6,594 per-theater-average. That should give it a weekend gross in the $350,000-$400,000 range, giving it an average in the low $20,000s. Defintely a respectable number, but high profile specialty films like this usually manage averages of $30,000 or more easy.
Last weekend, a film with even higher expectations — David O. Russell's Oscar hopeful "Silver Linings Playbook" — averaged $27,688 from 16 screens in an opening that should end up being very similar to what "Hitchcock" manages. Again, it was a decent number but far below what films like "The King's Speech," "The Artist" and recent "Lincoln" have managed in limited debuts.
For Thanksgiving, "Silver Linings" expanded to 367 screens (after initially being planned to go wide, The Weinstein Company slowed down the expansion — which was probably a very good idea). It grossed $1,617,000 on Friday after grosses in the mid-$600,000s on both Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's numbers resulted in a $4,406 average, and its final weekend gross should see an average around $10,000 to $13,000. Not bad at all, but definitely below expectations and actually below the average "Lincoln" — on over 2,000 screens — should end up with this weekend.
The fact that "Lincoln" (which has been managing astoundingly impressive numbers considering its content), "Skyfall," "Life of Pi," "Flight" and "Argo" are filling the top 10 with well-reviewed, Oscar worthy fare from the studios can't be helping films like "Silver Linings" and "Hitchcock." Hopefully both films can use word of mouth to hold over nicely in less competitive weekends ahead (the next two weekends each offer very few new options).
Check back tomorrow for a full box office weekend report.