Here's your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 - $141.3 million
2. Skyfall - $41.5 million
3. Lincoln - $21.0 million
4. Wreck-It Ralph - $18.3 million
5. Flight - $8.6 million
6. Argo - $4.07 million
7. Taken 2 - $2.1 million
8. Pitch Perfect - $1.26 million
9. Hotel Transylvania - $1.2 million
10 . Cloud Atlas - $900,000
The Big Stories
The Twilight Saga, in its current form, is over. It made a lot of money. The end. Is there really that much more to say about a series that has attracted so much attention for basically being a bad reality show with a semi-supernatural twist? Oh, what's the point in harping more on the disconnect there is between fans of Bella, Edward and Jacob and those who like writers who can craft legitimately timeless romance, and actors who can sell it. There we go again. It is too hard to talk about these five movies without feeling a little anger at those who chose it over so many more worthy films of quality -- especially those with positive depictions of women. Plus the remorse over just how much money was left off their table. Only in America, though, can someone look at the $141.3 million that the conclusion of Breaking Dawn drew this weekend and think... "meh."
Twilight Makes More Money, but Actually a Little Less
Part 1 of this 224-minute staring contest grossed $138.1 million on the exact same weekend last year. Its 2009 entry, New Moon, started with $142.8 million. Where did that $1.5 million go? Did they get shut out of sold-out shows, or did they put on their best Bella Swan pouty face and go home? Or maybe they just gave up after New Moon? In just a few more theaters than its predecessors, Part 2 grossed $71.2 million just on Friday, right behind Part 1's $71.6 million and New Moon's $72.7 on the all-time chart. That made it good enough for the sixth best single day ever, but just third on the year after The Avengers' $80.8 and The Dark Knight Rises' $75.7. The final Harry Potter film is the all-time leader with $91 million.
In the new history of splitting up a final chapter into separate films or stretching a 310-page book into a trilogy (love ya, P-Jack!), Deathly Hallows: Part 2 actually posted a 35% jump in its opening weekend over the first half. Then again, the final two hours had the benefit of a summer release. Nearly $30 million of the separation came on Friday alone and less than $15 million total on Saturday and Sunday. By comparison, Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 did just about the same business that the first interminable two hours did one year ago. There is a history of films (especially in the past decade) to announce themselves as the final chapter - or certainly feel like a conclusion (or so we thought in some cases). Taking end-of-an-era films like Bourne, Spider-Man, Terminator and Transformers out of the equation, here is a look at your top trilogy/franchise climaxes.
Top Box Office for Trilogy/Franchise Conclusions
The Dark Knight Rises ($160.8 million first three days / $447.8 final gross), Toy Story 3 ($110.3 / $415.0), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($169.1 / $381.0), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($124.2 / $380.2), Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($73.2 / $377.8), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($114.7 / $309.4), Return of the Jedi ($23.0 / $309.3), The Matrix Revolutions ($51.8 / $139.3), Ocean's Thirteen ($36.1 / $117.1), Scream 3 ($34.7 / $89.1), Back to the Future Part III ($19.0 / $87.7), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ($18.1 / $74.8), The Godfather Part III ($14.0 / $66.6)
Apologies to horror fans, but Saw 3D, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday combined only made $7.3 million more than Scream 3. Openings have gotten much bigger since 1983 when Jedi only made 9.1% of its total gross its first weekend. If we look at the above list's first three days next to final tally, it would look like this:
Return of the Jedi (9.1%), Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (19.4%), The Godfather Part III (21.0%), Back to the Future Part III (21.8%), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (24.3%), Toy Story 3 (26.6%), Ocean's Thirteen (30.8%), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (32.7%), The Dark Knight Rises (35.9%), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (37.1%), The Matrix Revolutions (37.2%), Scream 3 (38.9%), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (44.4%)
Freddy's Dead would actually manage to crack that list, posting the same 37.2% opening-to-final percentage that The Matrix Revolutions did. Eclipse is the only Twilight film to get a summer release - plus the only one to pass $300 million -- and grossed 78.4% of that from day four on. The other November openings go from 63.9% for the original to 51.8% (New Moon) and 50.9% (Breaking Dawn -- Part I). Part 2 again looks to fall somewhere in-between, and as bigger pictures go it only needs to gross $275 million by year's end to keep us on track for a record box office year.
Skyfall and Lincoln Doing Their Part
In 10 days, Skyfall is just a few short million away from being the biggest James Bond film (domestically) in history. By Tuesday it will for sure be, and is going above and beyond the call of duty to fill in any potential blanks on 2012's road to $10.6 billion. The year was at roughly $9.447 billion after Sunday. Argo is on target to do over $100 million, and Flight is going to surpass the $75 million we established as its minimum. Wreck-It Ralph is about $68 million away from its target, as well. All of them with a big five-day holiday ahead.
In its first weekend of wide release, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln grossed more than half of what War Horse did in its first seven days, and over $2 million more than its first three days of release ($18.7 million). Lincoln is not chasing the mere $36.3 million Spielberg's last film grossed from December 25-31 in 2011. Its target is last year's November release of Immortals (or the combined grosses of War Horse and Tintin.) If the packed 1775 theaters are any indication, with its added awards buzz Lincoln should have no trouble chasing down the $80.2-$82.6 million range of those films.
Can Thanksgiving Releases Help 2012 Break Box Office Records?
Over the holiday, there will be five films to keep an eye on if you are interested in making the case for a record-breaking 2012. Rise of the Guardians looks like it will be a solid hit and has on its shoulders the task of matching the grosses of not one, but two family films from 2011. Specifically the nearly $170 million brought in by Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and The Muppets by New Year's Eve (the holiday, not the terrible, terrible movie.) Ang Lee's Life of Pi needs to grab the $48.6 million brought in by Martin Scorsese's Hugo. The Red Dawn remake must stretch its way to the $36.4 million of J. Edgar, and the limited release Hitchcock must stare down the $8.6 of its making-of-movie-biopic companion, My Week with Marilyn.
Finally, based on the $458,430 that David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook grossed on just 16 screens this weekend, its own awards buzz should keep it hanging around after it goes wide over the holiday, and, at minimum, match the $38.3 million nabbed by The Descendants at the end of 2011. Russell's The Fighter opened in four theaters in December 2010 to the tune of $300,000 and had $39 million in the bank three weeks later. Yes, this is turning out to be a very, very good year at the box office.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]