What economic crisis? As the rest of the economy braced for what could be one of the biggest decreases in holiday spending in recent history the U.S. movie industry basked in the glow of a healthy Thanksgiving audience (the full three-day and five-day holiday weekend top tens are shown in the charts below).
Total sales were actually up a little bit from last year which, given the lame selection of new movies, says quite a bit. The number one movie, Four Christmases, took in $31 million over the weekend and almost $50 million over the five day long holiday. That's a solid outlook for the $80 million film which is only one of two Christmas-themed items coming out this season (compared to the three to five that usually arrive). And why not? Who doesn't want to see a baby throwing up all over Reese Witherspoon. Now that's comedy.
Last weekend's top three scrambled for the second through fourth place spots with Bolt winning by a cold, wet nose. Most movies decrease in sales week to week, but the top-notch canine companion tale pulled a rare feat and actually performed better by a slight margin. That's great news for a film that deserves some serious financial success and for the Disney Animation Studio which, under John Lasseter's brilliant guidance, is finally getting back on track as a quality producer of animated films.
Vampire flick Twilight came in a close third but took a major hit from last weekend dropping a hefty 62%. You won't see the folks at Summit complaining though. The movie joined the $100 million club over the holiday making it a smashing profit-earner in the light of its modest $37 million budget.
Baz Luhrmann's Australia opened at a miserable fifth place with only $14 million against its $130 million budget. Despite big stars like Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the movie isn't pulling in the audiences here among the yanks. Hopefully Baz will find heartier turn outs from international audiences, one continent in particular.
The third go round for Jason Statham's Transporter franchise took a step backward. Transporter 3 took in only $12 million compared to the $16 million opening enjoyed by Transporter 2. But that's not causing its bankrollers any worries. Despite all their flash and bang, the movies tend towards low budgets making profits easy and the likelihood for more sequels that much higher. Hey, it's not like Statham has anything better to do.
Milk opened to massive success in little measure. In small release (less than 40 theaters) the film enjoyed almost $2 million in sales over the long weekend. While an expanded release is expected over the next few weeks, it's not unlikely that the movie will stay low on the chart or drop off completely. While it's the kind of real-life-story controversial drama Hollywood loves to fawn over come awards season, its broader audience is a pretty small group.
Finally, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas saw a small expansion for Thanksgiving, granting it a boost and ninth place on the chart. Like Milk, the holocaust drama has enjoyed the attention of a small audience but is set to disappear quickly as the big budget winter season fluff begins to drift into the theaters.