Two days into the five-day Thankgiving holiday weekend, a pair of $100-million-plus wide releases opened on Wednesday, but both failed to make it into the top three, as holdovers "Breaking Dawn Part 2," "Skyfall," and "Lincoln" led the field. But overall business is strong – the top ten films grossed more than a third better than last year ($81 million from $60 million in 2011).
As usual, the order for the two days differed greatly, as adult-oriented films soared Thursday while those aimed at kids/families slumped. The latter will pick up over the rest of the weekend, likely changing the final ranking by Sunday.
"Breaking Dawn Part 2" was an easy number one, up slightly from "Part 1" last year, a sign of positive word of mouth. The big difference this year is the major shift to older audience/awards contending films this early – six of the top ten fit this profile, and provided the big bump in the grosses. Several films with strong adult appeal did well on Thanksgiving Day, which traditionally favors such films.
The three new releases that lagged behind the leaders performed variably. Ang Lee's well-reviewed "Life of Pi" had the biggest jump yesterday from Wednesday (+23%), but still lagged behind "Lincoln," despite playing in nearly 50% more theaters. With a cost of an estimated $120 million, the film is going to need to keep building to be able to justify a sustained run through Christmas. But with a likely awards boost ahead, getting an initial favorable audience is a real plus for Twentieth Century Fox.
Dreamworks' 3-D animated "Rise of the Guardians" (distributed by Paramount) grossed only about 70% of what "The Muppets" did in its first two days last Thanksgiving. With its $145-million cost and the favorable release date, this kind of gross suggests real concern about any chance of coming out ahead.
The long-delayed "Red Dawn" remake release (it was caught up in the MGM bankruptcy, now handled by FilmDistrict) was the only film with a strong young-male appeal, and managed a respectable take amid the competition, although it likely will fall a notch for the whole weekend.
Among other carefully-watched awards contenders, Weinstein's "Silver Linings Playbook" expanded to 367 theaters, good for ninth place for now. Consistent with the much smaller opening weekend limited run, these are good, but not great, numbers. Whether this film realizes its anticipated mass-audience potential remains to be shown, but TWC seems on course with its game plan of slowly rolling it out so it can hit its peak during Christmas and beyond.
The top ten for Wednesday/Thurs (with cumulative total):
1. "Breaking Dawn – Part 2" (Lionsgate) – $20.9 million ($184 million)
2. "Skyfall" (Sony) – $15.1 million ($185 million)
3. "Lincoln" (Buena Vista) – $9.1 million ($37 milion)
4. "Rise of the Guardians" (Paramount) – $8.6 million ($8.6 million)
5. "Life of Pi" (Twentieth Century Fox) – $8.2 million ($8.2 milion)
6. "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) – $7.4 million ($7.4 million)
7. "Wreck-It Ralph" (Sony) – $6.3 million ($133 million)
8. "Flight" (Paramount) – $2.7 million ($66 million)
9. "Silver Linings Playbook" (Weinstein) – $1.3 million ($1.8 million)
10. "Argo" (Warner Brothers) – $1.2 million ($94 million)