Newcomers go up against holdovers 'Moon,' 'Blind'

A mix of wide releases debut at the domestic B.O. this weekend, but eclipsing holdovers “New Moon” and “The Blind Side” will be a tough task.

Lionsgate opens Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire, in 2,088 theaters. “Brothers” was fully financed and produced by Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, which has an output deal with Lionsgate.

The year-end specialty push continues with Paramount’s George Clooney topliner “Up in the Air,” which was named best pic of the year Thursday by the National Board of Review. Directed by Jason Reitman, the film opens in 14 theaters in markets including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, D.C., Dallas and Seattle.

Sony’s Screen Gems goes after the action crowd with crime-thriller “Armored,” toplining Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne. Pic opens in 1,915.

The weekend also sees the final title from the Daniel Battsek-era Miramax: Robert De Niro-Drew Barrymore comedy “Everybody’s Fine.” Miramax co-financed the film, a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1990 pic, with Radar Pictures. Film opens in 2,133 theaters.

The fourth new wide release is vampire spoof “Transylmania,” which Full Circle Releasing takes out in 1,055.

The domestic B.O. is running at record levels and enjoyed the best Thanksgiving holiday ever, led by Summit Entertainment’s “New Moon” and Sandra Bullock sports drama “Blind Side.”

International box office also is seeing big business. Sony’s Roland Emmerich disaster pic “2012” is expected to jump the $500 million mark overseas this weekend, pushing Sony past $2 billion at the foreign B.O. It’s only the fifth time that any studio has done so and it’s a first for Sony, which is seeing its best year ever worldwide.

Through Wednesday, Sony has taken in $3.36 billion, surpassing its previous-best $3.33 billion in worldwide grosses in 2006.

Domestically, eyes will be on Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment’s “Blind Side,” which surprised with an 18% uptick in its second frame over Thanksgiving weekend. Through Wednesday, pic’s domestic cume was $106.7 million, while “New Moon” stands at $237.8 million.

For wide releases, the weekend after Thanksgiving is usually a lull before the crush leading up to Christmas, with action pics like “Armored” generally the frame’s favored genre.

Last year, Lionsgate used the frame to launch “Punisher: War Zone.” Pic opened only at No. 8, grossing $4.3 million in its debut. Lionsgate is going a different route this year.

“Brothers,” a remake of Susanne Bier’s 2004 Danish film, revolves around a soldier who ships off to Afghanistan, leaving his wife and family behind. His brother, just released from jail, steps in to help.

“Brothers” is tracking strongest among women and particularly females under 25. Lionsgate has taken advantage of the pic’s starry ensemble in its marketing campaign.

Males are most interested in “Armored,” but tracking for the pic doesn’t suggest a bonanza opening. Tracking for “Everybody’s Fine” is downright sluggish. Comedy also stars Kate Beckinsale.

Among other specialty openers, Magnolia opens Meg Ryan topliner “Serious Moonlight” in eight theaters in select markets, while Truly Indie’s “The Strip” goes out in eight runs as well.

Cinema Epoch opens the Armand Assante-Tom Berenger suspense drama “Breaking Point” in five theaters in New York, L.A. and Chicago. French-Irish animated pic “The Secret of Kells,” voiced by Brendan Gleeson, opens in one theater in Los Angeles for a one-week Oscar qualifying run.

A handful of documentaries unspool, including “Big River Man,” which chronicles the first man to swim the length of the Amazon River, released by Independent in New York. Variance opens docu “Until the Light Takes Us,” about the black metal music scene, in Gotham.

Overseas, “New Moon” and “2012” will likely continue to lead.

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