Sunday, November 23, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Twilight's Big Bite

Every now and then I am reminded that I am not a teenager anymore. I don’t have a favorite Jonas Brother; I couldn’t get through the first 20 minutes of the first HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL; and up until this past spring when I first saw posters appearing in the city, I had never heard of Stephanie Meyer or TWILIGHT. Little did I know, it was a phenomenon amongst the younger folks. Even going in to this weekend, I thought it was going to be that big. It was a crowded weekend and the trailers looked pretty flat. When I read that 2,000 advance screenings had already sold out though, I knew I was bloody wrong about the whole thing.

And so TWILIGHT flew out of the cave with midnight Thursday screenings tallying $7 million and rode that wave to a total of $35 million on Friday alone. That’s $8 million more than Bond brought in last Friday. TWILIGHT finished the weekend surpassing everyone’s expectations (and essentially annihilating mine) with a grand total of over $70 million, becoming the fourth biggest November opening of all time, behind three separate Harry Potter installments. I wonder if the Potter people regret the move out of this weekend now.

Meanwhile, Bond got banged by bad word of mouth and tumbled nearly 60% in its second week to just $27 million. This kind of fall means QUANTUM OF SOLACE will struggle to surpass CASINO ROYALE’s $165 million domestic total. Overseas, Bond has nothing to cry about as the film is seriously outpacing the last installment but this is definitely a different story on the home front. QUANTUM OF SOLACE barely came in second place, and may very likely end up in third after the final numbers come in tomorrow. Considering Sony over inflated last weekend’s gross to look as though QUANTUM OF SOLACE had done better numbers than THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, it would not shock me if they did to save face for losing to an animated dog.

The dog in question is BOLT, Disney’s 3D animated film featuring the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus. I’m sure the Disney peeps were hoping for a bigger haul this weekend than $27 million but BOLT’s bite was no match for that of TWILIGHT. With very little strict family fare coming in the weeks to follow though, BOLT could surprise with strong legs. The Thanksgiving holiday is certainly going to give BOLT a big boost.

Two particular arthouse films have much to celebrate this weekend. The first is THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS. The WWII drama debuted last week to strong numbers and expanded this week into 368 screens to see its haul increase by 252%. The even bigger success is hiding just below the Top 10 at number 11. One of this year’s biggest crowd pleasers, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, added 22 screens this weekend and saw another week averaging over $31K per screen. The Danny Boyle Oscar hopeful shot up over 176% and looks poised for the Top 10 next week.

Speaking of … NEXT WEEK: It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without holiday film fare. Enter Vince Vaughan and Reese Witherspoon in FOUR CHRISTMASES. Baz Luhrmann returns to cinemas after a seven-year absence with AUSTRALIA, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. And for those who think holidays are for guns and explosions, Jason Statham returns with TRANSPORTER 3. Mmmm, pass the turkey, please.

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