By Gabe Toro | The Playlist November 20, 2011 at 12:41PM
Summit was either being coy or having a bit more faith in humanity than everyone else by projecting "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One" to open lower than "New Moon." No such luck, humankind -- the lethal siren song that is Stephenie Meyer's ignorance scored again, with "Breaking Dawn" grabbing $72 million on Friday, beginning an opening weekend that, after final estimates, could even surpass the series' best.
What's more, this opening could be a harbinger of even bigger acceptance of this culturally dangerous, socially regressive phenomenon. Not surpassing the "New Moon" opening tally could be related to the possibility that some fans were holding out for the second installment of "Breaking Dawn," knowing they'd prefer the ending instead. When "Harry Potter" pulled the same stunt, "Deathly Hallows Part One" grabbed $125 million in its opening weekend, but it was "Part Two" that nabbed $169 million. "Twilight" performs similarly to the boy wizard, even though the films open bigger and have softer legs, so it's likely even without 3D that "Breaking Dawn Part Two" could have the biggest box office opening of all-time, which would do nothing to disprove that it is likely going to be a tremendous piece of shit. By the way, the movie's also doing massive overseas business. This sort of sickness is called a pandemic.
Sometimes, a film can't work as counter-programming if it's too damned expensive. When one film is expected to do $120 million or over, you'd have to be lucky you can score $23 million. But when you're a mega-budgeted CGI 'toon, you're going to have overlap with a major PG-13 tentpole, and that number is going to be disastrous. Thus, "Happy Feet Two" came in far under the first film's $41.5 million opening take, and the inflated 3D prices suggest the opening week audience was effectively halved.
There's reason to believe something like "Happy Feet," like most CG-toons, will have legs. But this is a case of an overcrowded release schedule. Where was Warner Bros. going to put "Happy Feet Two"? The week of December 2nd seems like a no-brainer, with no major new releases on the slate, but that's usually a quiet movie weekend. And yet, is it better off against "Twiight," and being forced to fight with "Arthur Christmas," "The Muppets" and "Hugo" for Thanksgiving weekend business? With the exception of "The Muppets," which has strong cross-culture appeal, this children's film surplus is one big industry clusterfuck.
Still managing momentum is "Puss In Boots," which closes its fourth weekend with $122 million. It's still got a bit of heat, but some of those 3D screens have to disappear, so you wonder how much it's going to survive. Flopping out of the number one spot was "Immortals." Relativity's sword-and-sandlas fantasy took a Titan-sized dip in weekend two, and no longer looks quite like the hit the studio wanted it to be. Still, Relativity no doubt made a nice chunk of change through foreign pre-sales, and "Immortals" is bound to be a big DVD title.
Most Adam Sandler titles drop off around 40% in their second frame, though efforts like "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" and "Funny People" fell off more than 57%. "Jack And Jill" is one of the over-50% drop crowd, suggesting its not playing to his core, and after the deflated opening, it certainly seems like it has the potential to be one of his weakest performers. But keep in mind, "Grown Ups" bucked the trend and dropped huge in its second week of release, only to level off and gross a spectacular $160 million. However, it seriously does not look like "Jack And Jill" will repeat such a feat.
Dangling around the top ten like a family heirloom on Cindy Sanders are "Tower Heist" and "J. Edgar." "Heist" should finish around a completely pedestrian $70 million, a flop, but more of a warning than an emergency for all parties involved. And "J. Edgar" couldn't get anything cooking with a light expansion, registering a similar per-screen average to most of the lineup despite playing on less than two thousand screens. "Harold And Kumar" and "In Time" also stuck around in the top ten, because theater owners can't just play blank screens.
Slamming into the top ten despite a limited release was Fox Searchlight's "The Descendants." Riding a wave of Oscar buzz, the film premiered at twenty nine locations, grabbing $1.1 million for a $38k per-screen average. Searchlight is hoping "Descendants" is in it for the long haul, but appearing in the top ten after such a small first weekend release suggests they might want to jump on this one now and go wider harder and quick. If "The Descendants" does the usual George Clooney business of $30-$40 million, it won't mean squat for award voters.
In smaller indie numbers, "Another Happy Day" only registered $9.2k on two screens, still stronger than "The Lie," which registered only $3k at one engagement. The bigger winners were the holdovers, with "Like Crazy" pulling in bonafide hit numbers, scoring $525k at 108 theaters for a $1.7 million total in four weeks of release. VOD release "Melancholia" is also out-doing expectations, with $350k at fifty six locations, and a two-week total of $721k, which makes the film likely to expand further and cross $1 million by Thanksgiving. Support your local arthouse theaters, boys and girls.
1. The Twilight Saga: Movies For Simpletons (Summit) - $139.5 million
2. Happy Bunions (Warner Bros) - $22 million
3. Shinychests (Relativity) - $12.3 million ($53 mil.)
4. Adam Sandler's Latest Excrutiating Exercise In Audience Abuse (Sony) - $12 million ($41 mil.)
5. Puss-In-Boots (Paramount/Dreamworks) - $10.7 million ($122 mil.)
6. Tower Heist (Universal) - $7 million ($53 mil.)
7. Clint Eastwood Presents Grandpa Theater (Warner Bros.) - $5.9 million ($21 mil.)
8. A Very Harold And Kumar (Will Be On DVD By) Christmas (New Line/Warner Bros.) - $2.9 million ($28 mil.)
9. In Time (Fox) - $1.6 million ($33 mil.)
10. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) - $1.1 million