Sunday, November 18, 2012

Box Office Report: 'Twilight' Expectedly Strong; "Lincoln" Surpasses Expectations

If you read my Weekend Releases post on Thursday, you knew I was wary about all of the films with the potential to make some big money this weekend. We all knew "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" was going to be huge, but outside of that, was there still room for three or four other films to flourish? Last weekend already saw the highest overall box office totals since July, and with projections, we were looking at something even stronger this week. I was hesitant to predict all of "Skyfall", "Lincoln", and "Wreck-It Ralph" to do as well as was possible, but in all actuality, all three actually outdid my already lofty expectations. And whether you're interested or not, with the $245MM at the box office this weekend, this now becomes the second-highest grossing weekend of the entire 2012 year! It's up more than $70MM from last weekend's already impressive totals, and its total dollars rank second only to, you guessed it, the first weekend of May when "The Avengers" opened with more than $200MM itself.

Hit the jump for a break down on all of the top-grossing films this weekend and see which got us to this number.

Regardless of your thoughts on it, the conversation must start with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" (boy will I be glad when I don't have to type that sentence of a title anymore!). The film didn't set records like I thought in might (and actually, in terms of expectations to results, you might consider 'Twilight' the biggest let down of all the films in the Top 5), but it was still very strong. It seems silly to say that about a film that grossed $141.3MM this weekend and provided the fourth-strongest opening weekend total for a film this year (behind "The Avengers", "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Hunger Games"). Obviously I'm not saying a film that made north of $140MM in three days was a disappointment, I just mean that as the final chapter of this franchise, it didn't even surpass the opening weekend totals that New Moon reached, and only out-grossed Breaking Dawn Part 1 by $3MM. On one hand, the film was in the exact same ballpark and didn't loose any ground, but on the other, you might have expected a touch more from the "epic conclusion". Nonetheless, I doubt anyone on the business end of this franchise is much upset. $141MM is good for a three-day total no matter what franchise you are (if anything, maybe we should be impressed that we can even find a way to justify that $141MM could be anything of a disappointment).

The film came down to reality in its reviews over the weekend, now down 30-points from Thursday, leveling out at 51%. That still makes it the best-reviewed film of the series, though by a small margin. As was stated on Thursday, however, reviews will not deter this film's gains. Its demographic isn't exactly the sort that cares much about reviews (when leaving "Lincoln" this weekend, I heard a young girl telling her dad that "it was the greatest movie ever made" - I assumed she wasn't taking about "Lincoln").

With a $120MM budget, the film is already well clear of that with its domestic totals. But adding to that the $199MM it's already made overseas, and its worldwide gross up to $340MM in just three days. That's already nearly three times its budget. These film do generally see pretty steep declines in following weeks, but with starts like this, it won't matter in the slightest. I don't have any intentions of ever seeing this film, but from a financial standpoint, this seems like a pretty good way to go out. Though there will still be plenty more to come from this installment, so far, all together, the Twilight films have grossed just over $2.85BB worldwide, more than seven times its collective budget of $390MM. Not too bad.

In second place this weekend was "Skyfall". The film opened big last weekend, and still managed $41.5MM this weekend. Initially, the 53% drop it faced this weekend seems a bit large for a film that's reviewed so well, but with Twilight and "Lincoln" both releasing this weekend, we knew that totals would take a bit of a hit. So while you'd love to see stronger holds, the drop was expected. I projected at right around $40MM for the film this weekend, so while it didn't exceed by much, it did still surpass that number. The film now has a total domestic gross of $161MM, already placing it in third-place all-time on the James Bond list, a mere $7MM behind "Quantum of Solace". Internationally, the film has banked more than $507MM, leading to a worldwide gross of $669MM that already makes it the highest-grossing Bond film of all-time - and by a wide margin ("Casino Royale" sits in second place with $599MM).

With a $200MM budget, the film still needs about $40MM to hit the mark domestically, but I expect it should reach it by the end of next weekend. By next Friday the film will already be the highest-grossing James Bond film of all-time, so there's not a lot of fun left in those numbers. Currently (with domestic grosses) it's the 10th-highest grossing film of 2012, so it will look to leapfrog some of the titles ahead of it in the coming weeks.

In third was Steven Spielberg's latest, "Lincoln". I expected this to be somewhere in the vicinity of earlier adult dramas "Argo" and "Flight", around $16MM-$18MM, but probably on the lower-end due to the lack of action in the film that I expected would deter many audiences. But with $21MM, not only did the film outdo my estimate, it even made more than "Argo" ($19.5MM) made in its first weekend. While $21MM is a pittance compared to what Twilight is doing two spots ahead, this feels like a big success for the film. Adult dramas don't normally fare exceptionally well in theaters, so just to slightly overcome projections and not miss with audiences altogether is a sigh of relief. With strong reviews and now box office results to boot, the film will start its campaign for Best Picture.

Unfortunately, even though I liked the film a great deal, $21MM doesn't get you many opening-weekend accolades. The film has only a $65MM budget, and it shouldn't be difficult to surpass that in a few more weeks, assuming it holds on as comparables "Argo" and "Flight" have done.

Fourth place this weekend saw Disney's animated feature, "Wreck-It Ralph", in its third weekend. The film nabbed $18.3MM, bringing its domestic totals up to $121MM. It's added a mere $26MM overseas, bringing its worldwide totals up to $147MM. The film has a budget of $165MM, and while it doesn't feel a stretch to assume it will eventually surpass that, it does seem to have leveled-off a bit this week. Of course, that's not completely out of the ordinary with Disney animated features. We generally see large opening weekends with Disney films and final tallies many months later that always seem to be impressive. But unless you looked in every week, you wouldn't realize that Disney films succeed due to long theater runs much more so than big hits right off the bat (generally speaking, compare it to track & field: 'Twilight' participates in the 100-Meter Dash, while "Wreck-It Ralph" is more interested in the 5K Marathon). It will make its money, but from here on out, it won't have a lot of flashy numbers every week.

Amongst Disney's non-Pixar 3D animated films, "Wreck-It Ralph" currently sits in second place behind "Tangled" ($200MM). I expect that by the time all is said and done, Ralph will easily sit atop this list. It probably drops out of the Top 5 next weekend, but we'll check back on this one in a month or so, once it's surpassed $200MM.

Rounding out the top spots this week was Robert Zemeckis' thriller, "Flight". Starring Denzel Washington, the film made $8.6MM this weekend, dropping only 41%, best of any film in the top five spots. The film has now made about $62MM domestically, basically doubling its budget of $31MM. Even though the film has had no international presence, this already seems like a big positive for the film, and good leverage for when Paramount starts is Oscar campaigns for Denzel Washington. I liked this film a lot, and I'm glad to see it's succeeded.

Scrolling through the other films in the top 15, it's nice to see "Argo", now in its sixth week, still holding strong. It finished in sixth place this weekend with $4MM, and more significantly, only dropped 38%, by far the best of any film on this list. The film has now made $92MM and is only $100K behind "The Town" ($92.1MM), which is Affleck's highest-grossing film to-date. This is another film that I really loved that I'm glad to see continuing to do well.

In terms of other notable milestones this week, nothing really stands out. So I'll leave it at that for now; be sure to check out the full numbers below, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: