US Box Office – Twilight, Bond and Lincoln hold strong, Killing Them Softly crashes…

What an unspectacular weekend for box office analysis.   Seriously.  Last week when I said I doubt there would be any changes to the top five, I was remarkably prophetic.  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 remained the number one movie in North America with $17.1 million for a cume of $254 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Skyfall almost topped Twilight with a weekend of $17 million.  One hundred thousand dollars separated the number one and the number two slots.  Skyfall has a U.S. total of $245 million.  This opens up the possibility that Bond could eventually end up with a better total box office than the final Twilight installment.  Bond’s numbers are holding stronger than Breaking Dawn – Part 2.  With only nine million dollars between the two totals, Bond could end up with the superior box office.

It doesn’t mean much for Twilight, which has made its money back (and then some), but for the Bond franchise this is potentially huge.  A fifty year old franchise has produced the biggest hit of the character’s career and could end up netting more than the sparkly vampires of Twilight, and possibly even end up with a better haul than The Amazing Spider-Man ($262 million in North America).  The Bond films have always been big, but the brand is surpassing its previous value.  There’s not going to be another four years between installments.  This cash cow is about to be milked.

Spielberg’s Lincoln is once again at number three, this week taking in $13 million.  The film has surpassed all expectations and projections.  Many analysts didn’t see the film doing this kind of business.  At this point $100 million is a lock, and I can almost guarantee a Best Picture nomination.  The film’s constant presence in the box office reports has people taking notice.  Money is never the primary motivator during awards season, but lets be frank: it doesn’t hurt.

Rise of the Guardians held its fourth position as the default family film.  The numbers aren’t great, and with the cost of these animated films this one isn’t going to turn a profit from theatrical.  Then again, a lot of these animated films don’t see a dime until they hit the DVD / Blu-ray stage of their lifespan.  In its second week the holiday themed film brought in $13 million.

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi was in fifth place with $12 million.  This is another film dealing with high costs versus solid-if-not-spectacular returns.  A very good movie, and a visually stunning cinematic experience that will need to hold strong if it’s going to recoup a hefty production budget of $120 million dollars.

In ironic box office news, Brad Pitt’s new hit man themed film Killing Them Softly was brutally murdered in its opening weekend.  The film took in $7 million and received an “F” from audiences via the polling service Cinemascore.  There was talk of Killing Them Softly having award potential, most notably for Pitt’s performance, but this one took it on the chin and will no doubt sink like a stone in the coming weeks.

New releases are pretty sparse next week.  There isn’t a lot to look forward to.  There’s a Gerard Butler / Jessica Biel romantic drama Playing for Keeps, and  Bill Murray plays Franklin Roosevelt in the limited release of the drama Hyde Park on Hudson.   This seems to be the quiet before the storm that is Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is released in North America on December 14th. 

Here’s your top films for North America…

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Weekend Estimate: $17.1 million; $254 million total

2. Skyfall
Weekend Estimate: $17 million; $245 million total

3. Lincoln
Weekend Estimate: $13 million; $83 million total

4. Rise of the Guardians
Weekend Estimate: $13 million; $83 million total

5. Life of Pi
Weekend Estimate: $12 million; $47 million total

Anghus Houvouras