How Hollywood Won Its Box-Office Bet on Leftovers

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Analysis: The studios will go two weeks without a major release banking on holdovers — and steering clear of "The Hobbit"

The Hollywood studios let it ride at the box office this past weekend, betting on the films already in the market rather than rolling out new ones.

They won.

The post-Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally a bone yard at the box office, was up 45 percent over last year. That’s despite the fact there were only two wide-releases – Brad Pitt’s “Killing Them Softy” and horror film “The Collection.” And both tanked.

Also read: As Hit Man, Brad Pitt Misses at Box Office In 'Killing Them Softly'

The top three films — “Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” “Skyfall” and “Lincoln” — held those spots for the third straight week. And they’ll have shot at a fourth, with FilmDistrict’s “Playing for Keeps” the only wide opener scheduled.

Conventional box-office wisdom says that the weekend after Thanksgiving — like the weekend after Labor Day — is a lousy time to open a movie because potential moviegoers are more focused on shopping. History backs it up. There hasn’t been a breakout hit on that weekend for years, though Warner Bros. debuted eventual Oscar Best Picture nominee “The Blind Side” to $20 million in 2009.

This year, some of those shoppers must have slipped away from the malls.

Also read: 'Breaking Dawn 2" Taking Biggest Box-Office Bite of All 'Twilight' Movies

Several holiday holdovers had strong holds. The second-week staying power of “Rise of the Guardians” (down 43 percent from last week), “Lincoln” (47 percent) and “Life of Pi” (46 percent) maintained the momentum built by the record Thanksgiving weekend and made the decision to skip openers look smart.

And there was extra cause to steer clear this year.

Blockbuster “The Hobbit” opens Dec. 14, and no one wanted to open and then get crushed by furry feet a week later.  Even if this week is down, and that looks likely, the buzz surrounding Bilbo Baggins and his pals should keep the box-office ball rolling through Christmas..