The Thanksgiving glut of B.O. winner “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” and a trio of kidpics, led by Disney’s “The Muppets,” couldn’t prevent an overall 10% drop from last year’s five-day holiday sesh. But overseas moviegoing stayed strong, as “Breaking Dawn” again scored big with $71.5 million for three days.
In five days, Summit’s “Breaking Dawn” collected $62.3 million domestically for a cume of $221.3 million, while “The Muppets” settled for second place, with a debut of $42 million through Sunday. “Breaking Dawn” has totaled $489.3 million globally.
Neither pic was able to match last year’s top titles: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” grossed almost $75 million in five days; “Tangled” bowed with $68.7 million. Though the 2009 Thanksgiving frame provides a more direct comparison, with the second “Twilight” pic, “New Moon,” grossing $66.3 million in its second outing.
That weekend, up approximately 15% over 2011, benefited from a more diverse frame, in which the top six each collected north of $20 million.
This year’s other debut titles, including new entries “Arthur Christmas” and “Hugo,” for the most part held their own, though big budgets could make it tough for either film to become profitable. “Arthur Christmas,” which cost a reported $98 million, came in at the high-end of expectations, with an estimated $17 million. “Hugo,” meanwhile, was produced by GK Films for north of $150 million and scored a five-day take of $15.4 million (considerably better than pre-weekend predictions in the low-double digits).
“Hugo,” distribbed Stateside by Paramount, had a relatively reserved rollout at 1,277 locations, of which 75% of the film’s weekend gross came from approximately 1,000 3D locations. By comparison, Sony’s “Arthur Christmas,” which launched at 3,376 locations, earned an OK 53% of its total from 2,378 3D playdates.
Par vice chairman Rob Moore commented on “Hugo’s” release strategy, calling it “an exceptional rollout for a movie that cost more than $100 million.” He added that “this movie has certain assets that warrant a different kind of release pattern,” namely, positive reviews and responses from kudos groups.
Par plans to expand “Hugo” to more than 2,000 locations by Dec. 9.
Overseas grosses will help both “Hugo” and “Arthur Christmas.” The former pic launches next weekend in the U.K., where “Arthur Christmas” has been performing well for three weeks now, with a local cume of $12.7 million. In total, “Arthur Christmas” has cumed $22.3 million from 24 markets outside the U.S.
“If the U.K. is any indication, this film should continue to find audiences through the Christmas holiday,” said Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer.
Warner Bros.’ second-week Stateside holdover “Happy Feet Two” was able to beat both “Arthur Christmas” and “Hugo,” landing in the No. 3 spot with an estimated $18.4 million in five days. Pic’s Stateside cume now stands at $43.8 million.
Even though overall B.O. totals lagged, no one can blame the little guys.
Fox Searchlight saw a stellar expansion for “The Descendants,” which cracked the top ten for its second straight week — this time, grossing a five-day $9.2 million from just 433 locations.
Also performing well was the Weinstein Co.’s specialty pair of “My Week With Marilyn” and “The Artist,” the latter of which bowed at four locations for the weekend’s highest per-screen average in three days at $52,604. “My Week With Marilyn,” which bowed Wednesday at 123 engagements, scored over the long weekend a total $2.1 million, with the weekend’s best Friday-Saturday bump of 13%. (Pic expanded to 244 playdates on Friday.)
Sony Pictures Classics’ new entry “A Dangerous Method” debuted Wednesday at four locations, averaging a stellar $60,236 per screen for five days.
Meanwhile, Fox’s month-in-advance sneaks of Christmas release “We Bought a Zoo” generated sold out showings nationwide, according to the studio, with evenly split turnout among families and non-families.
Dave Hollis, exec VP of theatrical exhibition sales and distribution at Disney, said this weekend’s theatrical bow of “The Muppets” was successful in kick starting a cross-platform launch of the franchise, including Mouse merchandising and commercial tie-ins.
“The goal here was to bring the Muppets back,” Hollis said. “This kind of result really makes everything possible.”
Thanks to a relatively inexpensive $45 million budget, “The Muppets” should have no trouble turning a profit for Disney (that’s even with what likely was a costly P&A spend). Overseas ticket sales also will help, though it’s uncertain how much appeal Kermit and his crew have with international auds. The film opened day-and-date this weekend in Mexico, where it grossed a so-so $1.5 million.
“The Muppets” played mostly even between the genders and with auds over/under 25, though females under 25 had a slight edge.
Hollis said positive word-of-mouth among daytime family auds helped propel biz with the date crowd — a similar effect seen with “Hugo.” That film had a near 40% uptick from Wednesday to Thursday, signaling healthy family and over-25 turnout, as adults typically work the day before Thanksgiving.
Par’s Moore insisted that “Hugo” will play best with adults, but should also appeal to tykes. “‘Hugo’ is a movie that everybody can see together, instead of a movie made for kids,” he said.
“Arthur Christmas” drew a mostly young family crowd. Sony cited that of the pic’s kid turnout, 53% were boys and 79% were under 10. Femmes accounted for 59% of the toon’s opening, while only 31% of auds were under 25. “Arthur Christmas” scored an A- CinemaScore; “The Muppets” received an A appraisal. (“Hugo” wasn’t rated.)
O’seas B.O. feast
Even without the Thanksgiving holiday, international wickets stayed busy, with “Breaking Dawn” scoring a huge lead over the next-best overseas player, “Arthur Christmas,” which grossed this weekend an estimated $11.9 million.
“Arthur Christmas” had a significant overseas push, broadening to 11 new markets, including France and Australia, where the film earned $1.5 million from both territories, as well as South Korea, which contributed $1.3 million.
In its fifth week, Sony and Paramount’s overseas holdover “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” closely followed “Arthur,” with a projected weekend take of $11.5 million, led by China and the U.K. (both Par territories).
The crunch of overseas family fare continued with Warners “Happy Feet Two” expanding to major markets, like Brazil and Italy, grossing $1.5 million and $1.3 million, respectively. Overall, “Happy Feet” tallied an estimated $10 million this weekend for a total $14 million internationally.