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Forecast: 'Twilight' Targets Trifecta, 'Shame' Aims to Woo Arthouse Crowds

by Ray Subers

December 1, 2011

The weekend after Thanksgiving is a notoriously slow one: in 2008 and 2010, for example, the weekend was the second-lowest grossing one in the entire year. With no new nationwide release, this weekend seems poised for a similar fate. Last weekend's Top Four movies are all holding at about the same theater count levels, and should all experience fairly steep declines.

Two unique situations do exist, though, as both Hugo and The Descendants are expanding significantly. Hugo is moving in to 1,840 theaters (up from 1,277 last weekend), while The Descendants is expanding to a nearly-wide release (the official figure is not currently available). Still, this weekend's winner will come down to a battle between The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and The Muppets, with the vampire drama likely eking out a victory.

While there aren't any new nationwide movies, there are a handful of limited releases including Mexican comedy Pastorela (55 theaters), Bollywood action movie I Am Singh (54 theaters) and drama Answers to Nothing (21 theaters). The movie with the most buzz, though, is writer-director Steve McQueen's sex addiction drama Shame, which is opening in nine theaters across New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. While scoring raves on the film festival circuit this Fall, Shame was picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures as one of their big end-of-year releases. Because of the movie's explicit sexual content, it was ultimately tagged with an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America's Classification and Ratings Administration.

The rating will limit the number of theaters the movie can play at, and also when and where it can be advertised. The all-time highest-grossing NC-17 movie is 1995's Showgirls with $20.4 million. Fox Searchlight's last foray in to NC-17 territory was 2004's The Dreamers, which opened to $142,632 at five locations on its way to $2.5 million. With solid reviews (80 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a 69 on Metascore) and awards buzz surrounding Michael Fassbender's lead performance, the movie should at least double The Dreamers's opening, though it remains to be seen how high it can get on the all-time NC-17 chart.

Weekend Forecast (Dec. 2-4)
1. Breaking Dawn - $15.4 million (-63%)
2. The Muppets - $14.3 million (-51%)
3. Hugo - $7.1 million (-37%)
4. The Descendants - $7.0 million (-5%)
5. Arthur Christmas - $6.9 million (-43%)
6. Happy Feet Two - $6.3 million (-53%)

Related Stories:
Last Weekend's Forecast: 'Twilight' Set to Beat Three Family Movies Over Thanksgiving
Holiday Preview

Related Charts:
All-Time Top-Grossing NC-17 Movies

All-Time Biggest Post-Thanksgiving Drops
All-Time Best Post-Thanksgiving Holds

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DAILY: Monday, 2/20 (57 tracked)
WEEKEND: 4-Day Weekend Actuals, 'LEGO Batman' #1
WEEKEND: 3-Day Weekend Actuals, 'LEGO Batman' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'LEGO Batman' #1
WEEKLY: 'Fifty Shades Darker' Tops the Week with $68.6m
DAILY: Thursday, 2/16 (46 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 2/15 (41 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added