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Weekend Box Office: Audiences Get 'Tangled' For Lack A Better Thing To Do

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist December 5, 2010 at 7:37AM

This weekend’s story? Everyone stayed home. The post-Thanksgiving weekend is usually somewhat quiet, lending itself to holdovers, but this weekend was fairly moribund. Consider this a missed opportunity for the movie studios in 2010, with every single weekend graced by at least one big release filling a necessary void. Instead, we had only one un-threatening semi-wide release and the expansion of a number of art house titles.
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This weekend’s story? Everyone stayed home. The post-Thanksgiving weekend is usually somewhat quiet, lending itself to holdovers, but this weekend was fairly moribund. Consider this a missed opportunity for the movie studios in 2010, with every single weekend graced by at least one big release filling a necessary void. Instead, we had only one un-threatening semi-wide release and the expansion of a number of art house titles.

This void allowed Disney’s “Tangled” to leapfrog “Harry Potter” for the top slot. There was quite a deflation from that robust opening, however, suggesting lesser word-of-mouth, uncharacteristic for a crowd-pleasing CG-animated film. Battling the 'Potter' factory has to have taken its toll on the potential audience for this film, and future weekends should produce a softer fall, but these numbers suggest getting to around $150 million may be a challenge. This was one of those Disney productions that was dismantled and rebuilt a couple of times under the eyes of watchful execs, so you have to assume the cost was more than the average for major studio animated fare. The film is receiving a slow international rollout, so Disney will have to hope it isn’t overcome by the boy wizard in other countries.

As for that boy wizard, well, he could be doing better. The latest in the saga had by far the biggest opening in the series, but that only seems indicative of the core being excited enough to go see it immediately. This third weekend strongly suggests that the film might not have the juice to cross $300 million like the last installment, 'Half-Blood Prince.' Cost may not be a factor here, as they shot this and the last 'Potter' entry simultaneously, but WB would have liked to see this film perform better in the face of such quiet competition. The studio’s plan is to replace the 'Potter' revenue with coin from superhero pictures in the next few years, but the below-expectations results of the last two 'Potter' weekends suggests they’ve had to make a few extra phone calls to get moving on that agenda sooner.

Holding steady at #3 was holdover “Burlesque.” The showtunes-and-skin drama looks like it will emerge with a respectable final number, but a movie that should have cost $20 million somehow set Screen Gems back $55 million (some reports suggest a lot more). It’s the biggest film yet from the Sony subdivision, so they were at least expecting numbers closer to Screen Gems’ own “Resident Evil” films. There are a lot of people to question about this matter, but you might want to focus on the marketing people who thought ads touting, “Cher is back!” would goose this one closer to $80-$100 million.

Credit deserves to be given when movies are able to hold steady, but sometimes it’s merely by default. Which is why “Unstoppable” remains in the top five: because people have to see something. Fox has to be thrilled with this result, and the picture continues to play when the opening suggested only a $60 million endgame. The per-screen average remains frail, so clearly Fox is breaking some legs to keep this on over 3000 screens, but the movie’s going to make a play for $80 million and maybe $90m. $100m might be out of the question, but it’s doing well enough overseas to suggest a theatrical break-even point. And a picture like this - visible stars, concise story - was built to thrill in ancillary markets. Long story short? Despite a weak start, Tony Scott lives to fight again!

Love And Other Drugs” didn’t decline as precipitously as other films, sporting the second-lowest audience drop in the top ten, but it’s not like people are showing up in force either way. This is one of those star-power pictures that benefits from the overexposure of its stars, since there’s a massive audience out there of people who only know Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway from magazine covers. That audience usually drives pictures like this to respectable weekday numbers, and they’re the people who will continue seeing this film in weekend seven when the heat has cooled considerably. For what it’s worth, this audience is only big enough to delay the film's DVD window, since this thing isn’t going to do numbers anyone is particularly proud of. But it will play for a while, and that’s the best you can hope for after an unimpressive start.

Megamind” experienced a fluky decline with its first genuinely ugly audience drop. The picture only lost a few screens, but it had the biggest non-'Potter' audience loss in an off-weekend and, shy of $140 million, it may fail to hit that $150m mark. Globally, the film’s a hit, but it just never seemed to connect with American audiences. The film’s absence in Jeffrey Katzenberg’s big sequel-heavy announcement speaks volumes. In any case, it edged ahead of “Due Date,” which landed at the $90 million mark and is going to take a stab at $100 in the coming weeks. Can WB keep this on screens long enough to hit that goalpost? All signs point to “probably.”

“Unstoppable” might be flying high, but shed a tear for red meat action. No one continued to see “Faster” as it continued its freefall into obscurity. At this pace, it might just have enough juice to match the alleged $24 million budget, a small consolation prize for a bomb that diminishes everyone’s resume. At least it was able to sail past “The Warrior’s Way”: the weekend’s only “major” debut, the film quietly landed on 1622 screens with a $3 million total, which if you do the math computes to “absolutely terrible.” The film does feel like it was slapped together in a lab - you might be able to market an Asian action picture, and you can conceivably push a Geoffrey Rush picture, but NOT if they’re the same movie. Rush, Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston were front and center in the ads, but familiar faces aren’t STAR faces, and the audience has changed since Asia-centric action pictures like “Hero” hit the marketplace. The DVD boom led to those pictures becoming home video and art house fodder, sadly, and the fact that “The Warrior’s Way” was a peculiar English language mash-up was never properly conveyed in the ads.

At least they were able to beat the three-week old “The Next Three Days,” which continues to play because Lionsgate has to have SOME product in the marketplace. Let it be known that Lionsgate’s “flop” Tyler Perry picture “For Colored Girls” has done more than double the domestic box office of this genre picture starring and directed by Oscar winners.

Last week, “The King’s Speech” had a massive debut on only four screens thanks to a near-unbeatable per-screen average. This week, eighteen locations greeted Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” with similar fervor, as the film finished just outside of the top ten with an estimated $1.4 million, or $77k per-screen. It’s a very strong start for the picture, which will expand in coming weeks and currently looks to be a strong awards-season player. Among specialty releases, that debut still couldn’t top “127 Hours,” which pulled in $1.6 million and has been steadily adding screens. The fact that 'Swan' almost matched the fellow Fox Searchlight player with over 400 fewer engagements, however, suggests that it’s possible “Swan” might simply steal some of the screens the Danny Boyle drama is utilizing as it slinks out of theaters. “127 Hours” has brought in a solid $6.7 million in five weeks, but this really was the weekend for the film to make a move, and the per-screen averages remain unspectacular.

After that blockbuster-like first weekend, "The King's Speech" peculiarly only added two more screens to build that heat, averaging $54k at six locations for a $326k tally. The Weinsteins are going to need to goose this to $30-$40 million to get the Academy's attention (tragic how this works) so they're gonna have to get on that horse and get the film out to audiences. "I Love You Phillip Morris" also debuted on six screens, though the digits were more art house-hit than the type of numbers star Jim Carrey is accustomed to. The dramedy did a solid $113k on six screens, enough to suggest that a bigger expansion will yield stronger results, but, really, everyone missed the golden opportunity to firebomb at least 1000 screens last Valentine's Day with this acidic gay farce. As Dwayne Johnson might say, slow progress is no progress.

After years of false starts, "All Good Things" debuted on two screens, pulling in $40k. Magnolia interestingly claims the film is their biggest VOD film of all time, having been available in homes nationwide for weeks now, but they don't disclose how much the film has made on that format. The low-fi Anthony Mackie drama "Night Catches Us" didn't fare particularly well, however, with four screens generating a meek $13.6k. Yuletide horror picture "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" premiered on only one screen, quietly bringing in $9.5k. Lots of options out there, so please support your local art house, boys and girls.

1. Tangled (Disney) - $21.5 million ($96 mil.)
2. Harry Potter And The Infinite Sadness (Warner Bros.) - $16.7 million ($244 mil.)
3. Burlesque (Sony) - $6.1 million ($27 mil.)
4. Unfloppable (Fox) - $6.1 million ($69 mil.)
5. Crystal Meth And Other Drugs (Fox) - $5.7 million ($23 mil.)
6. Megamind (Paramount) - $5 million ($137 mil.)
7. Due Date (WB) - $4.2 million ($91 mil.)
8. Faster (CBS Films) - $3.8 million ($18 mil.)
9. The Warrior’s Way (Relativity) - $3.1 million
10. The Next Three Days (Lionsgate) - $2.7 million ($18 mil.)


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