With "Skyfall" gobbling up more than half the total weekend box office, the top ten grossers are on track to gross $160 million, the best total yet in what has been a strong fall. This is up about 25% from both last weekend and last year. And most of this box- office surge comes from films appealing to older audiences on the one hand and children on the other. The teen demo will get their turn next week with the final "Twilight," which should boost audience figures to even higher levels.
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" also opened with terrific numbers – $900,000 in only 11 theaters. More on that in Arthouse Audit.
1. Skyfall (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic score: 81
$87,800,000 in 3,505 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $25,050,000; Cumulative: $90,000,000
A strong Saturday propelled James Bond 23 into a weekend gross substantially ahead of "Quantum of Solace," the previous entry ($67.5 million in its first three days). While historically Bond films have often outperformed their immediate predecessor both in openings and total, this is a bigger jump than most have shown.
Earning the best reviews of any Bond film ever (ranking among the best of any studio release this year, not far below "Argo," "Lincoln" and "The Master") boosted attendance, but this still ranks as an amazing figure. This series is not aimed at the core younger audience that have propelled many of the films that gross at this elevated level. Clearly, Daniel Craig is an asset – not only is he established in this role, but success in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (if not "Cowboys and Aliens") show that he brings strength on his own more than some of the previous actors in the role.
The worldwide take (this having played much of the world for two weeks already) has already crossed the half-billion mark; this movie could hit a series-high of $1 billion (when adjusted for inflation, "Thunderball" exceeded that global gross).
The producers' risky bet on brainy Brit Sam Mendes, who is not known as an action director, paid off. And now Mendes could provide some competition to Christopher Nolan as a go-to helmer for intelligent tentpole films.
To put the success of this series in context, it is 50 years since "Dr. No" started things off. Back in 1962, no films were continuing stories or characters that had started in 1912. Nothing in film history compares to this level of long-term success.
What comes next: No Bond film has ever remotely been thought of as a prime Oscar contender. This will steal a slot from other worthy studio contenders in many tech categories.
2. Wreck-It Ralph (Buena Vista) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #1
$33,056,000 (-33%) in 3,752 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $8,810; Cumulative: $93,690,000
Continued success for this major hit from Walt Disney Animation Studios. The year's top-grossing animated films fell more than 40% their second weekend, so this is sailing on fab word of mouth.
What comes next: Not only will Thanksgiving boost upcoming grosses, but this could even make it through Christmas at some theaters.
3. Flight (Paramount) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #2
$15,100,000 (-40%) in 2,047 theaters (+163); PSA: $7,325; Cumulative: $47,770,000
Likely hurt by "Skyfall," this still performed credibly in its second weekend, more so considering that it still is playing at only a little more than 2,000 theaters. Still, with the sense of strong positive reaction initially, this is more of a drop than might have been expected.
What comes next: With other films competing for older audiences (and "Lincoln" goes wide next week), this is going to continue to fight for attention. It should still manage at least $100 million, which its low pricetag ($35 million) will put it into profit even before international comes along.
4. Argo (Warner Brothers) Week 5 – Last Weekend: #3
$6,745,000 (-34%) in 2,763 theaters (-11); PSA: $2,411; Cumulative: $85,711,000
More than holding its own against intense competition, Ben Affleck's thriller fell only modestly.
What comes next: These grosses guarantee extensive playoff through the upcoming Thanksgiving period in many theaters, easily passing $100 million and grossing as much or more than other top Oscar contenders.
5. Taken 2 (20th Century-Fox) Week 6 – Last Weekend: #5
$4,000,000 (-33%) in 2,487 theaters (-152); PSA: $1,608,000; Cumulative: $131,287,000
This is becoming as much a phenomenom as its predecessor. A small one third drop this late in the run, and then with major competition, is amazing, even more so for a sequel. Getting ever closer to the $145 million of "Taken" was not anticipated, but it now has a real chance. The $210 million gross over and above the domestic take is more than double what the first film did. All this on a $45 million budget.
What comes next: French producer Luc Besson, solidifies his position as a major force in global filmmaking.
6. Cloud Atlas (Warner Brothers) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #6
$2,525,000 (-53%) in 2,023 theaters (+10); PSA: $1,248; Cumulative: $22,712,000
Give Warners credit for maintaining their theater count, but this drop will make their job much more difficult, even if with little competition beyond the top 5.
What comes next: International is opening slowly, but most major territories don't open until next year as multiple companies release this overseas.
7. Pitch Perfect (Universal) Week 7 – Last Weekend: #11
$2,500,000 (-18%) in 1,391 theaters (-111); PSA: $1,812; Cumulative: $59,000,000
This lost theaters, the gross fell (although only a little), yet jumped four positions this weekend. This not only shows that this film reached its target female audience, but how weak all but the top-grossing films are.
What comes next: The unusual marketing pattern for this (initial more limited release, relying heavily on social media for advertising) paid off big time, and likely will be followed by others as an alternative for lower-budgeted films aimed at more niche audiences.
8. The Man With the Iron Fists (Universal) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #4
$2,500,000 (-69%) in 1,872 theaters (+4); PSA: $1,330; Cumulative: $12,700,000
This Quentin Tarantino/Eli Roth supported American martial arts film started weak and went downhill from there.
What comes next: The rest of the world and other revenues might get this low-budget ($15 million) film to profit, but this has been a disappointment. But at least Universal is attempting to broaden their slate beyond just franchise films (with "Pitch Perfect" being an example of how this can pay big dividends).
9. Here Comes the Boom (Sony) – Week 5 – Last Weekend: #9
$2,550,000 (-29%) in 2,044 theaters (-270); PSA: $1,721; Cumulative: $39,061,000
This didn't open anywhere close to what was expected, but Kevin James' fans must like this film, since they keep sustaining it now into a second month.
What comes next: The strong hold will help to keep James in demand, but perhaps more as a co-lead than main draw.
10. Hotel Transylvania (Sony) – Week 8 – Last Weekend: #7
$2,350,000 (-54%) in 2,566 theaters (-356); PSA: $920; Cumulative: $140,904,000
Wrapping up a very successful run.
What comes next: The expected sequel has just been confirmed.