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A cornucopia of films — and particularly holdovers — are thriving at the Thanksgiving holiday box office in a fortuitous start to the year-end holidays.
The one soft spot so far is 3D family pic Rise of the Guardians, which may only take in $31 million or $32 million for the Wednesday-to-Sunday holiday stretch, the lowest debut for a DreamWorks Animation title in recent memory.
Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi, conversely, is easily outpacing tracking and should finish the five-day stretch with a $30 million debut for 20th Century Fox.
Overall, Hollywood is expecting record Thanksgiving grosses for the five days of $287 million or more, easily beating the current 2009 record of $270.5 million. The strong turnout at the box office also increases the profile of awards contenders including Lincoln and Life of Pi.
As expected, holdover tentpoles The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 and Skyfall continue to top the chart.
Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn 2 took in $17.4 million on Friday, putting its domestic total at $201.2 million. The final film in the blockbuster franchise is expected to post a Wednesday-Sunday gross of $63.5 million.
Skyfall, from MGM and Sony, also jumped the $200 million mark on Friday, grossing $14.8 million for a North American total of $200.5 million.
Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln, which continues to build momentum thanks to adults, grossed $10 million on Friday to come in No. 3 behind Breaking Dawn 2 and Skyfall. The historical drama, starring Daniel Day Lewis and from DreamWorks and Disney, has now earned $47.1 million domestically.
Guardians, the final DWA movie to be distributed by Paramount, grossed $9.3 million on Friday to place No. 4, putting its three-day cume at $17.9 million. While the film, which cost $145 million to produce, was up as much as 150 percent on Friday as families became more available, it continues to face unexpected competition from Disney holdover Wreck-It Ralph, which is heading into its fourth weekend.
Life of Pi, a substantial creative risk for Fox, placed No. 5 on Friday with $8.9 million, pushing its three-day cume to $17.1 million, within breathing distance of Guardians. Pi drew an A- CinemaScore, while Guardians earned an A.
Costing $120 million to produce, Life of Pi is succeeding in drawing younger moviegoers and families, with 38 percent of the audience under 25 (the film is rated PG). Tracking had suggested the movie, based on Yann Martel‘s best-selling novel about a boy lost at sea with a Bengal tiger, would post a five-day opening in the $20 million range.
Life of Pi — Lee’s first 3D movie — had drawn comparisons to Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo, but that film debuted to a meek $15.4 million last Thanksgiving.
Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph grossed $3.7 million on Friday to come in No. 6, pushing its domestic cume to nearly $140 million.
MGM and FilmDistrict’s Red Dawn remake — the third new Thanksgiving entry after Life of Pi and Guardians — grossed $6 million on Friday to place No. 7. The action pic is expected to post a five-day debut of $22 million.
Paramount’s Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Denzel Washington, came in No. 8, grossing $3.7 million to jump the $70 million mark.
The Weinstein Co.’s critical darling Silver Linings Playbook expanded into a total of 367 theaters on Wednesday as it scrapped a nationwide push in favor of a slower rollout. Directed by David O. Russell, the drama grossed $1.6 million on Friday to place No. 9. Silver Linings, projected to gross in the $6 million range for the five days, stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.
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