Clint Eastwood’s Mandela pic debuts
Disney’s traditionally animated “The Princess and the Frog” will look to sweep tots off their feet as it expands nationwide today at the domestic B.O., while Warner Bros. opens Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus.”The specialty box office sees two high-profile titles launch in limited runs: Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones,” from DreamWorks/Paramount, and the Weinstein Co.’s “A Single Man,” the directing debut of fashion designer Tom Ford. “Single Man” opens in nine theaters in a handful of markets including New York and L.A.; “Lovely Bones” opens in three theaters in New York and L.A. With Golden Globe nominations to be announced Tuesday morning, awards season will kick into full gear, with films including “Invictus,” “Lovely Bones” and “Single Man” hoping to benefit at the box office. The domestic B.O. is running at record levels as the film biz heads into the busy year-end sesh. This weekend, “Princess” is expected to draw a royal flush after a successful two-week limited run in New York and L.A. Many of the shows were sold out. Box office observers say “Princess,” going out in 3,434 runs, has a strong shot at winning the weekend and toppling Warners’ sleeper hit “The Blind Side,” which topped the B.O. last weekend. “Princess” has kids to itself for two weeks before 20th Century Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” opens on Christmas Day. “Squeakquel” bows first in the U.K., where it unspools this weekend. “Princess” opens day-and-date in a handful of markets, including Germany and Mexico. Other action overseas includes the debut of Sony’s “Julie and Julia” in Japan. Opening in 2,125 theaters domestically, “Invictus,” starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, tells the story of how Nelson Mandela, then president of South Africa, used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to help unify his country. Damon plays the captain of the team. Eastwood’s films don’t tend to see huge openings. “Million Dollar Baby” posted a weekend gross of around $10 million when it expanded nationwide. Filmmaker’s last film, “Gran Torino,” in which he also starred, was the most successful of his prolific career, grossing nearly $270 million worldwide. “A Single Man,” adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s tome of the same name, stars Colin Firth and Julianne Moore and revolves around a gay British professor living in Southern California in the 1960s. “Lovely Bones” toplines Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Stanley Tucci. Film was adapted from Alice Sebold’s harrowing book about a young girl who is murdered by a serial killer. Movie is Jackson’s first since “King Kong” in 2005. Other limited openers include Russell Crowe starrer “Tenderness,” from director John Polson. Anchor Bay debuts the latest laffer from Broken Lizard, “The Slammin’ Salmon,” in 111 theaters.