They visited family they hadn’t seen in months. They engaged in awkward small talk with their uncle's new girlfriend. They ate piles of turkey, with stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and maybe even one of those JELL-O salad things. They ate two pieces of pumpkin pie for dessert (with vanilla ice cream and Cool Whip). They lined up outside Walmart for two hours, hoping to score sweet Black Friday deals and not get stuck in a trampled-to-death scenario. After it was all done, they went to the movies and saw everything.
With the extended Thanksgiving weekend, the US box office set a new record with the top 12 pulling down $206.7 million. This beat the previous Thanksgiving record in 2009, which ran up a piddling $176 million. The cigar-smoking execs can thank a really strong slate of November films, with Twlight, Skyfall, Lincoln, and Wreck-It Ralph all building on their existing success. Ang Lee's Life of Pi over-performed with $22 million on the back of the "next Avatar" buzz, but the only disappointment of the weekend fell with DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians and its sub-par $24 million (another box office blow for Santa).
Top 10 (Weekend US Estimates via Box Office Mojo)
1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $43,070,000
2. Skyfall - $36,000,000
3. Lincoln - $25,020,000
4. Rise of the Guardians - $24,025,000
5. Life of Pi - $22,000,000
6. Wreck-It Ralph - $16,760,000
7. Red Dawn - $14,600,000
8. Flight - $8,600,000
9. Silver Linings Playbook - $4,623,000
10. Argo - $3,875,000
What We Learned
Santa Claus is no longer an A-Lister
First Shoppers Drug Mart stopped playing Christmas music, and now this. Rise of the Guardians (starring Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny) performed below expectations despite decent reviews and little competition among family fare. "Animated Avengers" was a little bullish, so maybe expectations should’ve been more along the lines of "Animated Expendables 2." Santa might have a future as a "best friend" or "kooky neighbour" supporting role, but this might be it for a featured lead. You have to go back to 2004's Polar Express for Santa's last box office smash. No shame in aging gracefully, Claus, there should be a role waiting for you in Expendables 3.
Ang Lee, secret hoser
With a surprising fifth place finish ($22 million) and high critical praise for Life of Pi, there's no doubt Ang Lee is now the go-to choice to direct the unfilmable Canadian novel. If Douglas Copeland's agent has not put out feelers to Lee's people yet, then the author needs to find new representation. Stay tuned for Lee's The Hockey Sweater, coming to IMAX 3D cinemas 2015.
Abraham > Alfred
The Anthony Hopkins led Hitchcock—detailing the making of the iconic hit Psycho—also opened this week, generally underperforming in limited release. The strong numbers for Lincoln are to blame, as the Spielberg hit owned the answer to the question, "as adults, what adult-like movie should we see that we can tell other adults we saw without embarrassment" this weekend. Also, little-known fact that you can't have two "last name" titled movies in the top 10 at any given time.
Opening This Weekend
Killing Them Softly - Brad Pitt is an enforcer hired to restore order after three guys rob a Mob protected card game hoping to score Fugees tickets (not really).
The Collection - Saw writer Marcus Dunstan sticks to his bread and butter with the tale of a serial killer and his booby-trapped warehouse.