Roland Emmerich's 2012 almost made back its $260 million budget in just three days. The domestic opening weekend was a whopping $65.2 million and the global total was a mammoth $225 million. This is the seventh-biggest domestic bow ever in November, and just shy of the $67 million that Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow pulled in during the Fri-Sun portion of its four-day Memorial Day weekend launch in 2004. With its $160 million non-domestic weekend gross, it's also the fifth-largest non-US debut of all time and the all-time non-US debut champ for a non-sequel/franchise picture. So the film pulled in a surprisingly potent 2.8x weekend multiplier and actually had a token increase on Saturday from $23 million to $24 million. Point being, this one is playing as a normal grown-up smash hit and should have decent legs until Avatar comes down the pike in just over a month. See, that's what happens when you actually deliver the goods and have the decency to be not all that bad.
Emmerich's sci-fi adventures have always done around 2/3 of their business overseas (only the US-centric The Patriot had about a 50/50 split). Since the film basically delivers what it promises (full-scale worldwide destruction, tear-jerking melodrama, better than expected acting), it will likely be the second-choice of casual moviegoers for the near future. Expect a big drop (-55%) next weekend as Twilight Saga: New Moon attempts to kick sand in 2012's face, but the film will level off over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend. Roland Emmerich is officially one of the most consistently solid big-time money makers in the book. Independence Day and The Patriot aside, I wish his previous movies were better (fifteen years later, Stargate still stinks), but the man can make trailer-ready movies like no one else. Of course, since 2012 is arguably the Love Actually of disaster flicks, I do wonder where he will go from here. From a genre standpoint, you really can't one-up this one, so it will be interesting to see if Emmerich can find comparative success in different genres. Regardless, $225 million worth of people paid to see Chiwetel Ejiofor and Oliver Platt in starring roles, so that's good news for everyone.
Second place went to Robert Zemeckis's A Christmas Carol, which held fast with just a 25.8% drop in weekend two. The film scored $22.3 million and now has a ten-day total of $63.2 million. It actually had an 8% smaller drop than The Polar Express's second weekend, and its ten-day total is still far ahead of the 12-day $51 million gross of The Polar Express (the latter film opened on a Wednesday). It also grossed about $1 million less on its second weekend than the 2004 picture grossed over its initial Fri-Sun debut. This one should cross $100 million right before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday and will try to reach Polar Express's $162 million total before Avatar steals away its 3D and IMAX screens on December 17th at 12:01am. It will still be an uphill battle to match the $200 million production cost, but the film isn't going to go down without a fight. I'll get to third place in a moment, but fourth place went to The Men Who Stare At Goats, which plunged 51% for a $6.2 million second-weekend. Still, the $5 million acquisition has already grossed $23 million for Overture films, so everything from here on in is pure gravy.
Third place went to this month's unstoppable juggernaut. Last month, Paranormal Activity burst into the top-five on just 169 screens, scoring $7.9 million for a $49,000 per screen average (by the way, congratulations on crossing the $100 million mark on Friday). This month, it's all about Precious. The Lionsgate acquisition grossed $104,000 per screen in 18 theaters last weekend. This weekend it expanded into 174 screens and had to settle for a sad, sorry $33,762 per screen average. At $5.8 million, the critically-acclaimed drama had the second-biggest weekend total for an under 200 screen release (behind you know who). The $10 million picture has now grossed $8.7 million, and it's just getting started. The film is all but guaranteed to receive several major Oscar nominations, and it will go wider next weekend. Precious has become the queen of buzz, with everyone and their brother adding their two-cents in about the film's quality and its alleged racial, gender, and class politics. I think much of the debate is silly, as the movie never pretends to be about every single person who's life resembles the lead character. Any popular movie that isn't about white men or nerd-friendly characters seems to get attacked as being offensive or stereotypical to someone somewhere. But as long as pundits as wringing their hands one way or another, then people will be inclined to check out what all of the fuss is about. Ironically, while Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry did nothing more than procure the film for Lionsgate and put their publicity machines behind it (no small worth), this very well may be the first Tyler Perry-related film to reach $100 million.
Fifth place went to the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It, which at $67.1 million is now the highest-grossing concert film of all time. It also crossed the $200 million mark in global receipts, so all in all a good weekend for something that everyone (including myself) assumed was a one-weekend wonder. Couples Retreat also crossed the $100 million domestic gross mark, so yay for all involved (nice poster, nitwits). The Box dropped 58% and The Fourth Kind dropped 62%, owing mainly to the fact that no one liked either of those films. The only other new opener, Pirate Radio, debuted with just $2.9 million on 882 screens. The Fantastic Mr. Fox debuted on four screens and grossed $265,900 (about $66,475 per screen). The critically-acclaimed Woody Harrelson/Ben Foster war drama The Messenger also debuted on four screens, grossing $11,131 per.
That's all the news that's fit to print. Join us next weekend when the major new releases are the Sandra Bullock drama The Blind Side (a 'you wouldn't believe it if it wasn't a true story' movie) and the animated Planet 51 (basically The Battle For Terra, with more comedy and less genocide). The limited releases are John Woo's Red Cliff and Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Am I forgetting anything? Oh, right, we get to see if Twilight Saga: New Moon grosses $70 million in its first weekend or in its first day and a half. For more box office, movie reviews, trailer reviews, news commentary, and original essays, go to Mendelson's Memos.