Mild sequel debuts for Sherlock Holmes and Alvin, while Mission: Impossible had strong limited IMAX release
A Game of Shadows pulled in a little over half the amount the first Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. adaptation of Sherlock Holmes and Chipwrecked also had a disappointing opening, especially for a money-making kids movie during a prime pre-holiday weekend (perhaps audiences/parents aren’t that desperate to take kids to movies even if they’re bad). Whereas Ghost Protocol, the fourth Mission: Impossible installment, directed by Pixar great Brad Bird, had a rather astounding start considering it garnered nearly thirteen million dollars in only 425 theaters (until 12/21 it is only playing on IMAX screens). Clearly, the desire to see the 6-minute prologue to The Dark Knight Rises (2012) before the blockbuster in 70mm IMAX screenings helped boost its box-office revenue. Look for it to increase its earnings with a wide release this Christmas week/weekend even though it has some fierce competition coming out as well.
New Years Eve and The Sitter lead the slowest weekend of 2011 at the box-office
With a combined $75 million+ gross at the box-office, this past weekend was the slowest one at the movies for 2011 (thus far). Only two films had a wide release and neither performed very well. New Year’s Eve basically bombed for its big budget cast, and The Sitter failed to impress either critics or many audiences.
Twilight maintains lead ahead of strong return by The Muppets; mild openings for Arthur Christmas and Hugo lost in shuffle
Despite a fantastic return to the big screen for The Muppets, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 clung to the number one spot by a wide margin. At this pace, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 will easily become the highest grossing Twilight film, at least in North American/domestic grosses if not worldwide receipts. Likewise, The Muppets will surpass the 1979 movie’s box-office returns within a few days to claim the franchise’s highest grossing spot. Props to the studio for developing a wholly originally marketing campaign and for making the return of the beloved series worthwhile (critics and audiences alike virtually unanimously praised the movie).
Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 doesn’t break records but still one of all-time highest opening grosses
As expected, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 dominated the box-office this past weekend with the fifth highest grossing opening weekend ever (without inflation adjustment), which is actually less than New Moon’s opening weekend that sits at number four on the list (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Dark Knight, and Spider-Man 3). The other two major releases, Happy Feet Two and The Descendants, also managed considerable openings during a months-long box-office lull. In particular, George Clooney’s latest film, directed by awards darling Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt, Sideways), did very well considering only 29 theaters showed it (and critics believe it is the best performance of his career). Several major blockbusters and awards hopefuls open next weekend.
Puss in Boots defends box-office crown over newcomers Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
For the second consecutive weekend, Puss in Boots was the highest grossing movie. Comedies Tower Heist pulled in a light but still decent amount, while A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas had a soft opening. Surprisingly, both had generally positive reviews, but audiences didn’t seem to care too much about the reviews and must have been were turned off by mediocre previews. They displaced two movies from the top ten: The Three Musketeers (2011) and Courageous.
Puss in Boots atop Halloween weekend, followed by PA3, In Time, & The Rum Diary
The reigning champ at the box office for Halloween weekend 2011 is not a horror film – it is an animated kids flick! Though, this should be no surprise given Puss in Boots’ predecessors’ financial successes and the meager horror genre offerings. Only Paranormal Activity 3 stood a chance for the genre, but its significant drop from last weekend was expected, thus easily giving the Shrek spin-off a commanding lead.
Paranormal Activity 3 scares away competition with highest horror movie opening ever
Half of my “Should you see it?” for Paranormal Activity 3 on my October Monthly Watch List was right: it is massively profitable ($8 million combined budget with over $450 million in revenue for the trilogy thus far). In fact, it set the record for the highest opening weekend ever for a horror movie, crushing Real Steel and Footloose by over forty million dollars. However, I underestimated how effective the thrills would be – critics and audiences have generally praised the film, noting that it is perhaps the best in the series (each one improving upon the former actually). Still, how much longer can their scare tactics remain effective? Perhaps it would be best to go out on top, but the studio will probably make more installments considering the profits.
Real Steel barely retains title over Footloose remake; The Thing prequel hibernates & The Big Year opens small
Real Steel survived a close battle with the remake of Footloose to hold onto the number one spot this past week, by about only two hundred thousand dollars. Apparently, the Hugh Jackman-led robot-boxing movie is a true family film that all members can enjoy, which is evident by the box-office earnings thus far (too bad the superior Warrior was not taken in by the masses as much). For a film that many thought was a very poor choice for superstar Jackman due to its ridiculous premise, it has done exceedingly well. However, it probably won’t remain champion of the box-office beyond this week with several new major releases coming next weekend. Nonetheless, Real Steel should continue to earn a lot in the coming weeks.
Real Steel knocks out competition; The Ides of March campaigns for second place
Despite the ridiculous premise, Real Steel easily came in first place, well ahead of the runner-up The Ides of March. Surprisingly, the Hugh Jackman-led robot-boxing movie has received mixed-to-generally positive reviews. Coupled with the family-oriented feel of the trailer, we should not be too surprised that it came in first, but by so much is a little bit shocking. After one week, this boxing film has earned twice as much as the far superior Warrior (full review found here) has made through five weeks. The Ides of March (full review found here) is a solid thriller and managed to bring in decent earnings on its opening weekend.
Dolphin Tale floats to top spot; meager openings for 50/50, Courageous, Dream House, & What’s Your Number
This past weekend saw the same three movies in the top three box-office spots but in slightly different order. Dolphin Tale overcame adversity to take the top spot. While Moneyball remained at number two, The Lion King 3D fell to the third place. Not bad hanging in there in the top three, considering some decent new release competition. Also, I’m glad to see at least some recent quality films earning praise and profit (click for my full Moneyball review or Dolphin Tale review).