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Moviegoers stuffed themselves on a diverse buffet of movies at the Thanksgiving weekend box office, with overall revenue ringing in it at a record $290 million for the Wednesday-through-Sunday stretch, easily surpassing the $270.5 collected in 2009.
But not every film benefitted from the holiday. New entry Rise of the Guardians posted a five-day opening of $32.6 million, the lowest debut for a DreamWorks Animation title in recent memory. The weekend take was $24 million.
In a surprise twist, Ang Lee’s awards contender Life of Pi overperformed in its opening to nearly match Rise of the Guardians, posting a three-day gross of $22 million and a five-day take of $30.2 million for 20th Century Fox.
Holdovers were particularly potent over the long frame, with Summit Entertainment’s Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 and MGM/Sony’s Skyfall both jumping the $200 million mark domestically.
Breaking Dawn 2 easily topped the box-office chart, taking in $43.1 million for the three days and $64 million for the five days. After two weeks of play, the final installment in the blockbuster franchise has earned $227 million domestically and $577.7 million worldwide.
Sam Mendes’ Skyfall came in No. 2, grossing $36 million for the three days and $51 million for the five days. With $221.7 million to date, it is the first James Bond pic to top $200 million domestically. Internationally, the film’s estimated total is $568.1 million for a worldwide booty of $790.1 million. Skyfall is doing big business in Imax theaters, earning $49 million to date globally.
Steven Spielberg‘s awards contender Lincoln continued to build momentum, coming in at an impressive No. 3 with a five-day gross of $34.1 million for DreamWorks and distribution partner Disney. Lincoln, earning $25.1 million for the weekend itself, now has grossed $62.2 million domestically. The historical drama’s strong performance boosts its awards chances and is a needed victory for DreamWorks.
Rise of the Guardians placed No. 4. DWA and Paramount are hoping the film follows the same path as The Polar Express — both movies are Christmas-themed — which debuted to a meek $23.3 million in early November 2004 but ultimately grossed $182.7 million domestically.
“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” DWA chief marketing officer Anne Globe said. “Seasonal movies play out much longer and have smaller drops weekend to weekend. We should be the top choice for families and kids throughout the end of the year.”
Costing $145 million to produce, Rise of the Guardians did draw a stellar A CinemaScore. The toon is the final DWA title that Paramount will distribute; Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s company now embarks on its five-year distribution deal with Fox.
Rise of the Guardians — about how Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and other childhood heroes protect the world from evil — opened to $10 million overseas from eight markets for an early international total of $13.5 million.
Tracking had suggested that Pi, based on Yann Martel’s best-selling novel about an Indian boy lost at sea with a Bengal tiger, would post a five-day domestic opening in the $20 million range.
The PG-rated Life of Pi, earning an A- CinemaScore, succeeded in drawing younger moviegoers in the U.S., with 40 percent of the audience younger than 25. Males made up 52 percent of those buying tickets.
Overseas, the $120 million movie debuted to a strong $17.5 million from four markets, including China, where it was No. 1 with $10.5 million. It also placed No. 1 in Taiwan — where Lee was born — Hong Kong and India. The film’s $3.4 million debut in India, where local titles generally dominate, was the highest nonfranchise opening of all time behind Avatar and 2012.
Imax screens contributed $3 million of Pi’s overseas take.
“To open to $47.7 million worldwide is a phenomenal start for this unique movie,” Fox president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson said. “This performance validates the vision of Ang Lee and [Fox 2000 president] Elizabeth Gabler.”
Life of Pi — Lee’s first 3D movie — had drawn comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, but that film debuted to a troubled $15.4 million last Thanksgiving in North America.
Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph, posing unexpected competition for Rise of the Guardians in North America, came in a strong No. 6 in its fourth outing with a three-day gross of $16.8 million and five-day gross of $23 million. The toon’s domestic cume is $149.5 million.
The long-gestating Red Dawn remake — the third new Thanksgiving entry after Life of Pi and Guardians — posted a solid five-day gross of $22 million for FilmDistrict, which bought the film from MGM.
The action pic, relying heavily on older males, received a B CinemaScore. Red Dawn, shot in 2009 before Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson shot to fame, was delayed in hitting theaters because of MGM’s financial woes.
The specialty box office saw mixed results as several high-profile awards contenders vied for attention.
David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook expanded into 367 theaters in 55 markets on Wednesday as The Weinstein Co. scrapped a planned nationwide push in favor of a slower rollout.
Silver Linings — starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver — came in at No. 9 with $4.6 million for the three days and $5.9 million for the five days, pushing its domestic total to $6.5 million. The film’s three-day location average of $12,596 was the best of any film in the top 10, narrowly edging out Lincoln’s location average of $12,398 (Lincoln, however, is playing in far more many theaters: 2,018).
David Glasser, COO at TWC, said the Silver Linings location average was better than solid and that the movie is playing both to commercial and art house audiences. “The exits are through the roof,” Glasser said.
Fox Searchlight’s Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, opened in 17 theaters on Friday, grossing $300,799 for a location average of $17,694.
Sony Pictures Classics opened Rust and Bone, starring Marion Cotillard, in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. The drama grossed $30,196 million for a location average of $15,098.
Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina expanded into a total of 66 theaters on Friday, grossing $831,732 for a three-day location average of $12,062 and a cume of $1.5 million. Starring Keira Knightley, the Focus Features film is being fueled by traditional art house audiences, evidenced by the fact that it was up 159 percent from Friday to Saturday.
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