Lacking an early release of a Christmas blockbuster, this weekend boasted just one low-grossing new release (Millennium's Gerard Butler-starrer "Playing for Keeps"), while last year had two newbies topping the top ten list. But this is traditionally one of the weakest weekends of the year. With only a single (soft) new film in play, the surprise is that strong holdovers led by Sony's record-breaking global blockbuster "Skyfall" as well as several awards contenders, managed to actually improve grosses about 5% from last year. But the total is low — around $68 million.
Next weekend starts the holiday deluge, with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" leading the charge. Significantly, a number of fall and Thanksgiving films are vying for bookings through the holidays, despite all the new films to open and the lack of screens in many locations. This will make interactions between studios and theaters intense for the next few weeks, but for the business overall, this is finally a good thing.
Not yet going wide, Weinstein's "Silver Linings Playbook" once again just missed the top ten, ranking eleven with only a minor drop– still hanging in only 371 theaters.
1. "Skyfall" (Sony) Week 5 – Last weekend #2
$11,000,000 (-34%) in 3,401 theaters (-62); PSA (per screen average): $3,234; Cumulative: $261,620,000
Although it comes on a normally weak weekend, and marks a low gross for a number one film, it is still no small achievement that "Skyfall" has climbed back up to #1. This is not a surprise for anyone monitoring the film's performance — it has held extremely well every week, and "Breaking Dawn" was due for a bigger drop. All it needed was no competition from new releases, and that is exactly what played out.
This is the first film to be number one in its fifth week of release since "Avatar," and the first to return to number one after falling below in over a decade (the last one was "Signs"). Not a bad way to celebrate a 50th anniversary. "Skyfall" is the highest worldwide grosser in Sony Pictures history, $918 million worldwide- – beating "Spider-Man 3" ($890 million).
What comes next: The next weeks will be intense as several successful Thanksgiving releases fight for screens and audience attention, but "Skyfall" will get more holiday playthrough dates than the last two Bonds. All of this should easily boost the film past $300 million domestic, nearly double what "Quantum of Solace" did.
2. "Rise of the Guardians" (Paramount) Week 3 – Last weekend #4
$10,540,000 (-21%) in 3,639 theaters (-33); PSA: $2,896; Cumulative: $86,202,000
This is the best time of year to be the newest kids/animated film on the market, as kids get dropped off at theaters as parents go holiday shopping. That explains the uptick in position and tiny drop for this so far underperforming Dreamworks Animation production. But it also indicates positive audience response despite the initial resistance. Clearly, marketing didn't get the movie's message across–word-of-mouth had to do the job. But family films often grow audiences over time.
What comes next: This now is positioned to hold –with help from matinees– through the holidays at many theaters, where a bounty of further potential business awaits.
3. "Breaking Dawn – Part 2" (Lionsgate) Week 4 – Last weekend #1
$9,200,000 (-47%) in 3,646 theaters (-362); PSA: $2,523; Cumulative: $268,735,000
Though dropping two places, this still continues to outperform "Part 1" – last year, also fourth weekend, the earlier film grossed $7.8 milllion for a total of $259 million. Very impressive.
What comes next: "The Hobbit" will bring it down to earth next weekend, but this is not finished yet.
4. "Lincoln" (Buena Vista) Week 5 – Last weekend #3
$9,115,000 (-32%) in 2,014 theaters (-4); PSA: $4,526; Cumulative: $97,300,000
Another modest falloff, still high on the top TEN with hundreds fewer theaters than its rivals. This continues to perform better than could have been expected, with big boosts from awards bounty just beginning.
What comes next: Having kept the theater count below normal, these strong grosses guarantee that the film will play well through the holidays buttressed by the usual attendance uptick. And then come the inevitable Oscar deluge and an even wider break. $200 milliion remains a real possibility.
5. "Life of Pi" (20th Century Fox) Week 3 – Last weekend #5
$8,300,000 (-32%) in 2,946 theaters (+18); PSA: $2,817; Cumulative: $60,918,000
Another film holding well and maintaining position. While this is far from home free compared to its CGI-driven $120-million budget, Fox has to be relieved by the film's strong domestic and initial international performance–especially in China–with more territories still to come.
What comes next: This is more vulnerable to losing theaters over the holidays – grosses will continue to have a normal decline over the next two weekends right as screen space becomes. Fox will be able to maintain some presence at the better grossing ones, then have something of a comeback with expected nominations. So $100 million domestic still seems reasonable.
6. "Playing for Keeps" (FilmDistrict) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic score: 30
$6,000,000 in 2,837 theaters; PSA: $2,115; Cumulative: $6,000,000
Coming on the heels of the surprisingly decent "Red Dawn," FilmDistrict took on another indie production, this time from Millennium, with less felicitous results.
Gerard Butler headed a sprawling cast (Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman and Jane Greer) in this rom-com so the failure is not his alone, although it comes only six weeks after his "Chasing Mavericks" managed only a $5.8 million total despite opening in 2000+ theaters. At least this one made the top ten. What's worse is that this a film he produced with veteran director Jonathan Mostow ("Terminator 3"), so the failure is even more acute.
"PLaying for Keeps" was directed by Gabrielle Muccino, the most successful Italian filmmaker commercially in the US (and probably worldwide) in the last decade. After his arthouse film "The Last Kiss" attracted Will Smith's attention, the two collaborated on "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Seven Pounds" to close to $250 million total gross. This is his first film since, and marks a huge falloff for him.
What comes next: This will eke out a second week, then disappear.
7. "Wreck-It Ralph" (Buena Vista) Week 6 – Last weekend #6
$4,904,000 (-29%) in 2,746 theaters (-341); PSA: $1,786; Cumulative: $164,400,000
An impressive hold, more so with the loss of theaters and now relying mainly on matinees.
What comes next: This late-year success is now a sleeper candidate for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. It won the National Board of Review this week, while the New York Film Critics went with Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie."
8. "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) Week 3 – Last weekend #8
$4,261,000 (-34%) in 2,754 theaters (-27); PSA:; Cumulative: $37,625,000
Still the only wide release primarily aimed at younger males, this held position with a normal drop.
What comes next: This will keep going in enough theaters to easily pass $40 million, a better than expected recovery for a film that was held in MGM bankruptcy limbo for several years.
9. "Flight" (Paramount) Week 6 – Last weekend #9
$3,130,000 (-30%) in 2,431 theaters (-172); PSA: $1,288; Cumulative: $86,202,000
Another minor drop as this long-running Denzel Washington-starrer holds better than most of his films, even if it still has a lower than average total. However, with a $35 million budget, this is already a solid hit.
What comes next: Paramount will have to fight to hold most of their theaters much longer, but they are poised for a post-nomination relaunch.
10. "Killing Them Softly" (Weinstein) Week 2 – Last weekend #7
$2,748,000 (-60%) in 2,424 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1.134; Cumulative: $11,772,000
A big drop for this Brad Pitt-starring ensemble crime film that earned an F Cinemascore–which suggests a dissonance between marketing and actual content–but still enough for tenth place.
What comes next: This is just about played out.