Weekend Recap: Box office down, “Blind Side” up

Predicting who will win the box office hasn’t been as hard as I thought, but this was one of those weeks where I’m pretty pleased with my prediction. The Blind Side, its third week, surpassed New Moon to take No. 1.

Box office winners have been clear-cut with a few surprises since I started this prediction business back in September. I’m 12-of-13 having only missed one weekend when Saw VI failed me.

But what does that really say? Has the box office become that predictable (when it comes to No. 1 at least)? I think that we do live in the age of surefire success. With undying fan devotion to books (Twilight and Harry Potter films) and this inherent “need” to see sequels regardless of the crap we probably know we’re in for, when it comes to scheduling film releases, the studios know what to avoid. Couples Retreat was the only wide release film that weekend in October when it came out. Everyone else knew they didn’t stand a chance. No huge films came out Thanksgiving Day because studios knew New Moon would still be rolling. Next weekend, only Clint Eastwood’s Invictus will compete with the wide release of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.

The Blind Side finally taking No. 1 three weeks in and the poor performance of the box office this weekend in general (as you’ll see below) is testament to the way movies are nowadays. People are spending a lot of money at the theaters and they want guarantees: overwhelmingly positive reviews, material they’re familiar with, stuff their kids will definitely enjoy and not find “too scary” and want to leave early, etc. “Blind Side” owes a lot to the most positive reviews of any wide release recently. Most well-received films come out in limited release at this time of year so they rarely impact the box office.

  1. The Blind Side – $20 M (weekend) … $128.9 M (gross)
  2. The Twilight Saga: New Moon – $15.4 M … $255.4 M
  3. Brothers – $9.5 M … $9.5 M
  4. A Christmas Carol – $7.8 M … $115.2 M
  5. Old Dogs – $6.9 M … $33.9 M
  6. 2012 – $6.8 M … $149 M
  7. Armored – $6.5 M … $6.5 M
  8. Ninja Assassin – $5 M … $29.8 M
  9. Planet 51 – $4.4 M … $34 M
  10. Everybody’s Fine – $3.8 M … $3.8 M

The biggest surprise this weekend was the performance of Brothers at the box office. It made on the high end of what I expected, but it was good enough for third place. This could be one of those films that continues to perform at the same level for the next few weeks, maintaining popularity as more and more Oscar films come out.

The biggest flop was undeniably Everybody’s Fine. Okay to favorable reviews, Robert De Niro and old people weren’t good enough for this film to be a moneymaker. With under $4 million, its times like this where I wonder if America read my blog and subsequent recommendations.

Noteworthy are great performances outside of the Top 10 by limited release films Up in the Air and The Princess and the Frog. That’s a predictor of the kind of success those films will likely have, especially with all the critical acclaim “Air” has been getting in particular.

My guess is this will be the last really poor weekend of the year. Disney will give the box office a boost next week followed by the anticipated release of Avatar.

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