Box-Office Wrap-Up: Nov. 20 – Nov. 22, 2009

The last time we had a box-office weekend this big? July of 2008, with a little film called Dark Knight on the board. Let’s break it down!
#1 movie predicted correctly: 4 Weeks In A Row
That is a big number. If this number sticks, the film will have beaten Transformers: Revenge of the Fallens‘s opening by an astounding $32m. Right now they’ve got it at $72m / $43m / $25m — which is the same 40 percent drop per day that Twilight followed. But here’s the thing — it could finish higher than $141m, couldn’t it? Won’t the Sunday screenings follow a different trend given it has doubled Twilight‘s opening weekend??

Sorry. I rarely go with the double question mark (??) but it felt like this was as good a time as any. A truly remarkable box-office result, no matter how you feel about the franchise.

To those who hate the Twilight franchise and want to decry this as some sort of referendum on pop culture: I reject your argument. The film was excellent for those who read and enjoyed the books. It wasn’t fun for anyone that hadn’t. This is different from awful titles like Transformers II, Spider-Man 3, and G.I. Joe which were enjoyable to people with low expectations. There’s a huge difference there. No, it’s not great that you have to have read the book to enjoy the film, I’ll cede that. But then you’ve got to cede that there’s a reason people responded to this title. And that reason could have a ton to do with the story they saw played out in their imagination coming to life onscreen in a compelling way.

Basically, the defense rests with this: When something makes this much money it’s tapped into something elemental. Figuring out what that “thing” is, to me, is far more interesting than passing judgment on it. And I say that as a fan of Dark Knight and a guy didn’t like the first Twilight film (but did enjoy the second). Let’s start looking deeper on our film criticisms, it will only make us healthier as a culture.

Result: 140.7 million (My rank: #1, $25.9m off)
My original predictions had this in the $20m range, but I revised down because the overall numbers were way too high. Something had to give. Only in real life, nothing did. In fact, everything shot up, probably due to some New Moon screenings being sold out.

The Blind Side was a prime example of a film that was far better than its trailer. It’s a rare counterexample, because usually the marketing team is the strongest portion of a film. Unfortunately.

Result: 34.5 million (My rank: #3, $15.9m off)
3. 2012
Mea Culpa on this title, it did fall almost 60 percent. 2012 stands at $270m on a production budget of $200m. They’ve still got a bit of work to do, but the financial prospects should get rosier after this weekend’s dive.
Result: 26.5 million (My rank: #2, $4.2m off)
Evidently they had Dwayne Johnson voicing a blond-haired and blue-eyed astronaut. I’m not sure if that’s offensive or not. Is it? I only know that Hollywood follows rules that you and I might be weirded out by.

As for this? We can only hope the production budget was $10m or so.

Result: 12.6 million (My rank: #6, $2.8m off)
Does anyone out there think New Moon had a $200m production budget? Because Christmas Carol did. And as it turned out Vampires and Werewolves were a far better investment than public domain (And rights-free) Christmas Carol.
Result: 12.2 million (My rank: #5, $1.9m off)
Now is the time to get this film wide. They’ve just about made their budget back, so get me 1500 theaters and we could really get some momentum going here.
Result: 11.0 million (My rank: #4, $3.7m off)
Notice the drop-off. The top six films banked. The bottom four barely showed up.
Result: 2.7 million (My rank: #7, $0.3m off)
My hope is that Fourth Kind comes up with another $300k so that I can nail this title exactly.
Result: 1.9 million (My rank: #9, Dead On)
I usually congratulate someone for their box-office call on the top slot at this point, but I think I was the highest. And I was still low. No one wanted to slot Blind Side into second place either. I guess none of us saw this weekend’s craziness coming, eh?
Result: 1.7 million (My rank: Not Ranked)
Can I pass? I think I’ll use my once per quarter pass.
Result: 1.6 million (My rank: Not Ranked)

Next weekend’s films only look partly compelling. Fantastic Mr. Fox is something I’d encourage everyone to see… unless you just hate Wes Anderson. The Road is bleak but well done.

On the returnees, New Moon should plummet if it follows the Twilight math. My early guess? It’s a better product than that one. And it won’t drop as much. But somewhere over 50 percent is just about a sure thing, because New Moon is the new breed of film. Frontload city. But anything under 60 percent they’d (Summit) have to call a win.

Your turn! Hit me with a comment and tell me why I’ve got it all wrong. Or heck, maybe even a little right.