The opening of the final "Twilight" film leads all grosses this weekend, but it's not the only box office news. Without taking anything away from its strong $71-million first day and midnight show gross (equalling last year's, as expected), the most interesting figures come from a trio of likely Oscar contenders.
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" went wide yesterday to 1,775 theaters after its incredible limited opening last week, for a one-day total of just under $6.4 million, above the high end of expectations and likely totalling above $20 million for the weekend. Despite great reviews and the pedigree of its creators, this had been expected to be a more limited-interest film, with some questioning Disney's decision to go so wide so quickly. A failure to perform would have jeopardized the film's chances of playing into and through Christmas, and possibly damaged its considerable awards potential. Instead, these grosses should enhance its chances, and more importantly, show that there is indeed a mass audience for serious historical drama far beyond what was expected.
Two other potential contenders opened platform runs, both with grosses only a third or less of what "Lincoln" opened to last Friday. Weinstein's "Silver Lining Playbook" (originally scheduled as a wide release next Wednesday) opened to a decent $120,000 in 16 theaters in ten cities for a per screen average of $7,500. This wider than usual pattern (including cities like Philadelphia, Miami and Austin) for a limited film reduces the PSA a bit than a pure NY/LA platform. But the gameplan makes sense – Weinstein knows from its People's Choice win at Toronto and other screenings that this David O. Russell romantic comedy/drama has tremendous word of mouth appeal, as well as significant Oscar chances. Thus, getting initial big-city sampling, followed by the now revised plan of a 400-theater expansion over Thanksgiving, seems logical to maximize its potential. Still, that "Lincoln" did so much better with only slightly better reviews remains a real surprise.
Focus opened Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" in 16 theaters as well (in seven markets) for a total of $81,200 for a PSA of $5,075, reflecting the more uneven reviews (which included some significant raves) for this Keira Knightley remake of the Tolstoy novel. This performance is below the previous Wright/Knightley pairing "Atonement," which opened in twice as many theaters with somewhat lower ticket prices to a PSA just under $7,000. In other words, while this is a decent opening, it's not nearly at the same level.
"Skyfall" fell around 60% from its great opening day. Though that looks like a big drop, it fell less than the previous Bond entry "Quantum of Solace," so it remains an impressive performer.
The Top Ten:
1) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Lionsgate) – $71.2 million
2) Skyfall (Sony) – $12.4 million
3) Lincoln (Buena Vista) – $6.4 million
4) Wreck-It Ralph (Buena Vista) – $4.4 million
5) Flight (Paramount) – $2.5 million
6) Argo (Warner Brothers) – $1.1 million
7) Taken 2 (20th Century-Fox) – $.7 million
8) Pitch Perfect (Universal) – $.4 million
9) Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Yash Raj) – $.4 million
10) Here Comes the Boom (Sony) – $.3 million