Soft Friday B.O.: ‘Blind Side’ Drops 58% to $6.8M, Still No. 1

“Twilight” well below projections at $5.2 million as overall market off way more than expected 50% this week

Saturday box-office update:

Studios and exhibitors had figured on a dropoff of around 50 percent at the domestic box office after a record-breaking Thanksgiving weekend. Turns out they got less than they bargained for.

Warner's "The Blind Side" was indeed No. 1 Friday, as expected — but it slid 58 percent week-to-week to finish the day with $6.8 million Friday. It's the only film on pace to even have a chance at exceeding $20 million this weekend.

Summit Entertainment's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," meanwhile, declined 71 percent, finishing second with $5.2 million.

Opening in third place, Lionsgate's "Brothers" took in $3.6 million Friday, roughly on pace with pre-release projections that had it doing about $10 million over its first three days.

Finishing fourth, Sony/Screen Gems action film "Armored" also matched pre-release projections, taking in $2.4 million its first day.

More to come…

Thursday box-office preview:

Last weekend was the Thanksgiving feast. Now come the leftovers.

Joining a crowded domestic market that’s expected to decline about 50 percent: Lionsgate’s “Brothers,” an R-rated awards aspirant directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire; Miramax family holiday comedy “Everybody’s Fine,” starring Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale; and “Armored,” a $20 million Sony/Screen Gems action film starring Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne.

Also opening in limited release: Paramount’s Oscar hopeful “Up in the Air,” directed by Jason Reitman and starring George Clooney and Anna Kendrick, and “Serious Moonlight,” featuring Kristen Bell and Meg Ryan.

But with the 2009 box office already at record levels with just under a month to go, it's expected they'll all take a back seat to Warner’s “The Blind Side” and Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” with the former expected to fall off much less than the latter.

“If the overall market drops 50 percent this weekend, I’d expect to see ‘Blind Side’ only dip somewhere between 35-40 percent and ‘New Moon’ to drop more than 50 percent,” said one studio distribution official.

"New Moon" already had a falloff of 70 percent last weekend, compared with the weekend before.

With “Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock, grossing $40.1 million last weekend — and expected to eclipse $200 million at some point — and “New Moon” also taking in $42.9 over the three-day holiday weekend, both are expected to do $20 million-$25 million this weekend, with “Blind Side” finally claiming the top position.

Meanwhile, incumbents including Sony’s “2012,” Warner’s “Ninja Assassin” and Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” and “Old Dogs” all remain factors, with each surpassing the $20 million mark over the five-day Thanksgiving box office recording period.

There are also plenty of awards-season movies already established, with Fox Searchlight’s Wes Anderson-directed “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” entrenched in more than 2,000 theaters, Lionsgate’s “Precious” standing pat in about 664 locations, and the Weinstein Company’s “The Road” adding a few Canadian theaters to a count that stood at 111 last weekend.

Indeed, not only are box office dollars short, the screens needed to get them are in limited supply. “It’s not an easy marketplace to get set right now,” noted David Spitz, president of distribution for Lionsgate.

Of the new entries, Lionsgate’s “Brothers,” which opens in 2,088 locations, is tracking for the biggest opening, with projections spanning $8 million-$12 million. The film, budgeted at $26 million, is the first to come of a distribution relationship Lionsgate has established with Relativity Media, which will involve three to five movies a year going forward.

Unscreened by critics and projected to finish further back, “Armored,” a Screen Gems acquisition shot for $20 million, is tracking to gross $5 million-$6 million this weekend. Sony officials, who are opening the movie in more than 1,900 locations, believe the film — about an armored car inside job gone wrong — could do as much as $8 million, however.

Opening in 2,000 locations and tracking for an opening of about $4 million, Miramax family comedy “Everybody’s Fine” stars De Niro as a widower trying to reconnect with his adult children.

Meanwhile, with Full Circle Releasing managing to get it set up in about 1,000 theaters this weekend, “Twilight” send-up “Transylmania” is projected to open to only around $1 million.

Starting its Oscar-consideration play for Clooney, “Up in the Air” will start out in 14 theaters in 12 markets. And Magnolia will open “Serious Moonlight” in just eight theaters nationwide.

“Historically, the first week after Thanksgiving is not big,” Spitz noted. “But even if it ends up being only 50 percent of that this weekend, it will be pretty good.”