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Weekend Report: Fading ‘New Moon’ Eclipses ‘Twilight,’ ‘Blind Side’ Surges

by Brandon Gray
Kristen Stewart in New Moon
 

 
November 30, 2009

The Twilight Saga: New Moon collapsed in its second weekend, as expected after the fan frenzy of its first weekend, but still narrowly led Thanksgiving weekend with $42.9 million for a whopping $230.9 million total in ten days. Due to the relatively modest new releases, the Top Three remained the same with the ascendant The Blind Side in second and descendant 2012 in third. All told, it was the highest-grossing Thanksgiving on record at around $186 million, although it wasn't nearly as special in terms of estimated attendance, ranking ninth.

Running on the sheer momentum of its massive opening, New Moon soared past the $200 million mark on its eighth day of release and, in the process, eclipsed predecessor Twilight, which had a final haul of $192.8 million. That, of course, also made it the biggest vampire movie on record, but it did fall 70 percent, the steepest second weekend Thanksgiving drop ever surpassing Twilight's 62 percent, and, by shedding nearly $100 million from one weekend to the next, it had the largest decline ever in terms of gross. The first Twilight, though, regained its bearings later in its run, ultimately holding up well for its genre.

The Blind Side held its ground and then some, narrowing the gap between it and New Moon. The football-themed drama advanced 18 percent to $40.1 million, lifting its total to $100.2 million in ten days. That makes it the fastest sports movie on record to cross the $100 million mark. The picture was actually the first major sports movie of 2009, but has transcended the genre's usual limitations with the marketing's broadly-appealing inspirational angle and the star power of Sandra Bullock.

Middling by the standards of fish-out-of-water father comedies, Old Dogs scrounged up $16.9 million on approximately 4,400 screens at 3,425 sites ($24.2 million for its five-day start), which was less than Yours, Mine and Ours (which also opened on a Thanksgiving) but more than star Robin Williams' previous unexpected father comedy, Father's Day. The picture's advertising campaign was muddled, focusing on generic slapstick instead of father-and-child interactions and passively relying on the cachet of Mr. Williams and John Travolta. Not helping matters was how the ads fetishized a scene of co-star Seth Green being cradled by a gorilla and singing an Air Supply tune. The gorilla even dominated the movie's poster, which was strange for a movie called Old Dogs.

Ninja Assassin struck with $13.3 million on around 3,000 screens at 2,503 sites ($21.2 million five-day), landing in the vicinity of Thanksgiving launches of Hitman and Transporter 3. The martial arts movie didn't bust out, in part, because its marketing lacked clear story and character context, instead relying on a blur of flashy action shots.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was the holiday's other new nationwide release, but it's appeal was highly niche with its retro stop-motion animation and the sensibility of director Wes Anderson. It pulled in $7 million at 2,033 sites ($10 million five-day).

Among other holdovers, 2012 and Precious saw relatively steep dips. 2012 deteriorated 33 percent to $17.7 million, but its total stands at $138.5 million in 17 days. Precious posted a solid $7.1 million at 663 sites and its tally climbed to $32.4 million in 24 days.

A Christmas Carol (2009) had the biggest increase among nationwide holdovers, up 28 percent to $15.8 million for a $104.9 million total in 24 days. Its IMAX runs alone were up 58 percent, accounting for $3.4 million of the weekend gross. By comparison, The Polar Express' IMAX runs had a Thanksgiving boost of 29 percent. Christmas Carol, though, won't get to run its course on IMAX like Polar Express, because Avatar will take over its screens on Dec. 18.

Debuting in limited release, The Princess and the Frog made a $786,190 splash at just two sites ($1.2 million in five days), but they were high-priced, specialty venues and therefore not necessarily indicative of the Disney animated feature's prospects when it enters nationwide release on Dec. 11. The Road had a larger sampling at 111 sites and grossed an unremarkable $1.5 million ($2 million in five days).

Last Weekend
'New Moon' Opens with Deafening Howl

This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2008 -
'Four Christmases' Rushes Thanksgiving
• 2007 - 'Enchanted' Bewitches Thanksgiving
• 2006 - 'Happy Feet,' 'Casino Royale' Top Thanksgiving
• 2005 - 'Goblet' Gobbles 'Rent' Over Thanksgiving
• 2004 - 'Kranks' Out-Rank 'Alexander' Over Thanksgiving

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Weekend Box Office Results
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Fastest to $200 Million
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