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Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Nov 21, 2012

With discount shopping and mall madness taking precedence over movies this Friday—or Black Friday as it’s known here in the states—and Thanksgiving on Thursday, that means audiences get a special holiday treat a couple days early as three new wide releases are dished up in multiplexes on Wednesday: DreamWorks’ Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians,” Ang Lee’s 3D opus “Life of Pi,” and the 80’s reboot “Red Dawn.”

With “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2” racking up $141 million last weekend, even if it drops -70% like previous “Twilight” flicks, that would still translate to $42-$43 million—a mighty tough number to topple.

“Rise of the Guardians” does have a legitimate shot to take down the box office bloodsuckers; DreamWorks certainly has the pedigree and family films always show well this time of the season. Still, holiday-themed films don’t always break the bank, as last year’s “Arthur Christmas” can attest to. Sony’s animated flick opened over Thanksgiving and was shut out in the cold by audiences, chilling cinemas with just $12 million over the 3-day portion of the weekend. 

Of course, a lot of that had to do with “The Muppets” opening the same weekend, which pigged out with $29 million. So odds are, DreamWorks’ $145 million production, as the only straight-forward family flick, should be able to capture the imaginations and, more importantly, the wallets of moviegoers everywhere.

And, with “Wreck-It Ralph” now four weeks out and kiddies crawling up the walls, parents will likely see this as a welcome fallout shelter.  In 3,653 theaters “Rise” may be able to float $38 million for the weekend and $55 million over the extended 5-day.

"Life of Pi" is Ang Lee's immersive journey...into the realm of 3D. While reviews have been extremely solid, traditionally, films that have based their advertising campaign on the wonders of 3D haven't necessarily broken through the dimensional barriers of the box office. Still, if the PG-rated metaphysical drama can capture some of that "Slumdog Millionaire" audience, this could be one of the surprises of the holiday season, and is widely considered an Oscar contender, too.  

"Life of Pi" is essentially a $100M art film. While that may not jive with spiritually savvy (or is that morally bankrupt?) American audiences, it will certainly reach a higher plane internationally.  Expect a solid 5-day debut of around $26 million this week in 2,927 theaters.  

Let's be honest here--something that is traditionally taboo in Hollywood--"Red Dawn" has been on the shelf for a long time. While most of the marketing spin insinuates that had everything to do with MGM's troubles, there is also a reason it has taken many seasons to reach multiplexes--it's a bit of a mess.

It's also outdated. At the height of the cold war, when the original "Red Dawn" dropped, it was entirely plausible that the Soviet Union would attack any minute. Now, we have North Koreans invading...Spokane, Washington?!? Uh, do they have an irresistible hankering for some crispy Red Delicious apples? I mean, I know getting tickets to watch a Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball game is tough, but foreign invasion is not the answer, Craiglist is. Plus, growing up in the Northwest, I know for a fact that nearly everyone living in the outskirts of Spokane owns a gun. You just don't mess with country bumpkins! 

The original “Red Dawn” was actually a meaningful sociological examination, while the reboot, like so many others recently, merely seems like a misguided cash-grab. Having Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson in leading roles may be its only salvation as both have become much bigger stars than when this was originally scheduled for release in 2010.    

The original made the equivalent of $90M when adjusted to today's ticket prices, while the retread will be fortunate to make half that amount. At 2,725 sites, expect a misfire with just $9 million for the weekend and would be fortunate to hit $13 million through Sunday. Hey, there is always a turkey

Expanding in limited release is Weinstein’s Oscar contender, “Silver Linings Playbook,” which will operate at 367 venues. A couple weeks ago the Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper drama was set for a wide release, but as is often the case with Weinstein, the distribution pattern was changed at the last minute. Certainly didn’t help its cause when it opened flat with $27k per in 16 theaters last weekend. In comparison, “Lincoln” scored $85k per in its limited run before opening wide.

Happy Thanksgiving—may your turkey be juicy and your tofurkey, well, edible.  


1. TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PT. 2 - $43M ($62M, 5-day)


3. SKYFALL - $27M ($39M)

4. LIFE OF PI - $18M ($26M)

5. LINCOLN - $17M ($23M)



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