After feasting away at a smorgasbord of offerings over the Thanksgiving five-day stretch, moviegoers decided to take a nap this weekend. Even though the post-holiday frame is notorious for being of one of the lowest weekends of the year as audiences return to their routines, family box office champs generally dominate. Sure enough, Disney’s Tangled and Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I held the top two spots with $21.5 million and $16.7 million respectively. Battling for third place were Cher musical Burlesque and runaway train actioner Unstoppable at $6.1 million apiece.
Despite distributors’ poo-pooing the post-Thanksgiving frame, it historically remains a ripe time to launch prestige films to high-brow metropolitans, i.e. Frost/Nixon and The Savages. Thus Fox Searchlight successfully launched Darren Aronofsky’s festival darling and award-season contender The Black Swan, which pirouetted with $1.4 million at 18 theaters and a bulky arthouse average of $77,459. Peter Knegt’s analysis is here.
Distribs have often exploited the post-Thanksgiving period as a dumping ground for Z-grade genre fare, from the 2005 MTV-Charlize Theron bomb Aeon Flux ($25.9 million domestic B.O.) to Liongate’s 2008 Marvel dud sequel The Punisher: War Zone ($8.1 million domestic B.O.). Likewise, Relativity Media aimed for the fanboys with its first solo release, the martial arts western The Warrior’s Way, without its usual Rogue distribution partner Universal, taking ninth with $3.05 million. Relativity carried little exposure on the film; they were hired to release this indie-financed $42 million epic.
Warrior, with its notable co-stars Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston and Kate Bosworth, marked the cross-over stateside debut of action star Jang Dong Dun who is beloved in his native South Korea for such action hits as 2004’s Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War ($70 million worldwide). The downside with this beautiful martial arts ballet is that mass audiences’ demand for Asian action fare has not taken off in the wake of 2000 anomaly Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($128.1 million).
Granted, Oscar nominations largely fueled Tiger’s ticket sales, and martial arts films were always limited to urban audiences, however, Sony Pictures Classics tried to revive their wide appeal with Zhang Yimou’s The House of Flying Daggers and Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle, kicking up genre grosses respectively with $11.1 million and $17.1 million. Following those attempts, most specialty distributors have curbed their P&A spending on chopsockys, despite their headlines and notable overseas box office, i.e. John Woo’s Red Cliff ($627K domestic B.O.) and Yimou’s Blood Simple remake A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop ($188K domestic B.O.). Relativity targeted martial arts fans on ESPN, G4 and Spike garnering a crowd that was both 65% male and over 25. The few critics who reviewed Warrior were so-so with a 46% rotten, while crowds turned their heads with a C- Cinemascore.
1. Tangled (Disney): $21.5 million down 56% in its second weekend at 3,603 theaters. $5,967 theater average. Domestic total: $96.5 million.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (Warner Bros.): $16.7 million down 66% in its third weekend at 4,125 theaters. $4,057 theater average. Domestic total: $244.2 million.
3. Unstoppable (Fox): $6.1 million down 46% in its fourth weekend at 3,152 theaters. $1,935 theater average. Domestic total: $68.9 million.
3. Burlesque (Sony/Screen Gems): $6.1 million down 49% in its second weekend at 3,037 theaters. $2,009 theater average. Domestic total: $27 million.
5. Love and Other Drugs (Fox): $5.7 million down 41% in its second weekend at 2,458 theaters. $2,319 theater average. Domestic total: $22.6 million.
6. Megamind (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $5.03 million down 60% in its fifth weekend at 3,173 theaters. $1,585 theater average. Domestic total $136.7 million.
7. Due Date (Warner Bros.): $4.2 million down 41% in its fifth weekend at 2,450 theaters. $1,720 theater average. Domestic total: $91 million.
8.Faster (CBS): $3.8 million down 55% in its second weekend at 2,470 theaters. $1,550 theater average. Domestic total: $18.1 million.
9. The Warrior’s Way (Relativity Media): $3.05 million in its first weekend at 1,622 theaters. $1,881 theater average. Domestic total: $3.05 million.
10. The Next Three Days (Lionsgate): $2.65 million down 43% in its third weekend at 2,236 theaters. $1,185 theater average. Domestic total: $18.4 million.