North American box office: ‘Twilight’ doesn’t suck

The holiday weekend started early this year. These are the kinds of numbers we usually see over a long weekend, when kids are off from school and adults are off from work and everyone’s in a mood to see a movie, not a regular ol’ weekend, and particularly one over which, you might think, people are busy preparing for the upcoming holiday. But not only did the top movie do extraordinarily well, so did the next three below it:

1. Twilight: $69.6 million (NEW)
2. Quantum of Solace: $26.7 million (2nd week; drops 60%)
3. Bolt: $26.2 million (NEW)
4. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: $15.6 million (3rd week; drops 55%)
5. Role Models: $7.3 million (3rd week; drops 34%)

actual numbers, not estimates
It remains to be seen whether Twilight can hold onto such big numbers next week. The film had one of the all-time biggest Friday-to-Saturday drops — almost 41 percent — and it’s by far the biggest such drop among blockbuster-size openings. That suggests that fans rushed to see the flick on Friday. It doesn’t mean they won’t rush back to see the film again after their turkey dinner (you know no idea how much restraint it takes not to call Twilight a turkey — oops, I just did it). Twlight doesn’t have any real competition among this weekend’s new films, so it will likely stick to the top of the box office. But by how wide a margin? I’m thinking, not much of one at all.

Even with a 60 percent drop this weekend, Quantum of Solace broke $100 million without breaking a sweat. At a cost of $200 million, however (which seems like an awful lot for a non sci-fi movie), it’s going to have a tough time earning that back domestically. Worldwide, no problem — it’s already surpassed $400 million across the planet. So no one will cry too much if it only reaches $150 million in the U.S.

Indies are going strong and will continue to do so over the holiday weekend with still few options for grownups at the multiplexes. Per-screen, even Twilight couldn’t beat out the little pitbull that is Slumdog Millionaire. The top per-screen averages for the weekend:

Slumdog Millionaire: $29,619 on each of 32 screens
Twilight: $20,368 (3,419 venues)
Lake City: $9,355 (1 screen)
Quantum of Solace: $7,724 (3,458 venues)
Bolt: $7,182 (3,651 venues)

The true indies will start getting a run for their money this weekend, as the studios start platforming their prestige releases throughout December in order to garner the attention of awards voters and pique the interest of mainstream audiences. The next three weeks, I predict, will be dominated, at least among the limited releases, by three movies drive by historical personalities: Milk, Che, and Frost/Nixon.

Oscar time is upon us.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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