There are those who will say the $25 million opening this weekend of Walt Disney's "Princess and the Frog" is a tad disappointing, but considering how the last few hand-drawn animated features fared it's downright magical.
Some of the last major hand-drawn releases to hit theaters included DreamWorks' "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" which found only $17.7 million in 2002, Disney's "Home on the Range" which bombed with a $13.8 million opening in 2004, Disney's "Brother Bear" which did a so-so $19.4 million in 2003 and the Mouse House's disaster "Treasure Planet" that stole only $12 million in its 2002 debut. So, relatively, with the holiday season right around the corner Disney will take this number one opening as a solid double.
Sliding in at second was yet another solid weekend for Sandra Bullock's "The Blind Side." The melodrama was down only 22% this frame with another $15.4 million to bring it's fourth quarter total to a staggering $150 million. Yes, $200 million is well within reach. Who knew?
The weekend's first debut, Clint Eastwood's "Invictus," came in at No. 3 with a soft $9 million in only 2,125 theaters. That's lower than most Eastwood films and the picture's debut may have been hurt by a number of factors including similar competition with "Blind Side" (at its own studio no less) and a marketing campaign that really needed to start earlier for a proper punch. Eastwood and the studio are no doubt hoping the film gets a second wind from Golden Globe and SAG nominations this week, but the iconic filmmaker may have done WB a disservice by not screening the film and releasing materials earlier.
Fourth place went to the vampire vs. werewolves favorite "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." Grossing another $8 million over the 3-day, "New Moon's" current total is at $267 million. If it can hold on to enough theaters $300 million isn't out of the question. If not, that mark certainly should fall with "Eclipse" this summer.
Showing steady signs of life in the fifth slot is Disney's "A Christmas Carol." With only an 11% drop, "Carol" found another $6.8 million for a new domestic total of $125 million. Unfortunately, Robert Zemeckis' latest is about to lose a huge number of 3-D screens to "Avatar" this upcoming weekend which should significantly cool it's Christmas weekend prospects.
In limited release, Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" expanded to 72 theaters and pulled in a fantastic $2.4 million and a $34,000 per screen. With a cume of $4 million already, "Air" will expand Christmas day riding what should be numerous Globe, SAG nods and year-end critics group honors. How much the "movie of the moment" (cough, need to drop that tagline Paramount) can go is an intriguing debate. Is $100 million out of the question? Certainly a story we'll be following over the next few months as Oscar draws nearer.
Two other contenders opened to very good if not strong results. Paramount's "The Lovely Bones" debuted in only 3 theaters for a $38,667 average and $116,000 cume. Peter Jackson's latest does not expand nationwide until mid-January. The studio and filmmakers were hoping to receive some year-end awards love to help boost that opening, but after disappointing reviews, that seems unlikely. On the other hand, Tom Ford's directorial debut "A Single Man" found $216,000 in 9 theaters for a $24,000 average. Much better received than "Bones," this drama could benefit from Oscar buzz for Colin Firth and Julianne Moore as the season progresses.
Next Week: James Cameron's "Avatar" and Sarah Jessica Parker's romantic comedy "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" debut.
The top ten movies this weekend according to Box Office Mojo. Final numbers are released on Monday.
1. "The Princess and the Frog," $25 million.
2. "The Blind Side," $15.4 million, $150 million to date.
3. "Invictus," $9.1 million.
4. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," $8 million, $267 million to date.
5. "Disney's a Christmas Carol," $6.87 million, $124.4 million to date.
6. "Brothers," $5 million, $17.4 million to date.
7. "2012," $4.4 million, $155.3 million to date.
8. "Old Dogs," $4.39 million, $39.9 million to date.
9. "Armored," $3.5 million, $11.7 million to date.
10. "Ninja Assassin," $2.7 million, $34.3 million to date.