‘Blind Side’ Tops Tepid B.O.; ‘Up in the Air’ Takes Off at $1.2M

Down 50 percent, Bullock’s football movie leads weekend; Clooney movie strong in 15 locations.

Last Updated: December 7, 2009 @ 1:38 PM

With all of the incumbents that led the record Thanksgiving box-office down 50 percent or more this weekend, Warner Bros.’ football-themed Sandra Bullock movie “The Blind Side” led the domestic market, taking in a projected three-day total of $20.4 million, according to studio data.

Summit Entertainment’s “Twilight Saga: New Moon” finished second. But despite a 64 percent fall-off from last weekend, the vampire tale still took in $15.7 million.

The weekend’s biggest highlight was the performance of Paramount National Board of Review winner “Up in the Air,” with the film, directed by Jason Reitman and starring George Clooney taking in nearly $1.2 million at 15 locations, for an impressive $79,000-per-screen average.

But on a weekend that was down 47% from a week ago, and still dominated by a flurry of pre-Thanksgiving holdovers, no other movie besides “Blind Side” or “New Moon” even hit the $10 million mark.

“Historically, this is not a great weekend,” noted one studio distribution official.

Leading the pack of newcomers this weekend, Lionsgate’s “Brothers” — a dark, Iraq/Afghanistan-themed film featuring the inevitable-at-some-point fraternal pairing of Toby Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal — finished third with $9.7 million.

That was about on par with projections for the modestly budgeted film, released by Lionsgate under a new distribution arrangement with Relativity Media.

Sony/Screen Gems crime-caper film “Armored,” meanwhile, came up short of Sony’s $8 million projections. The movie, shot for $20 million and starring Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne, finished in seventh place with $6.6 million.

All the way back in 10th place, Miramax’s “Everybody’s Fine” — a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1990 Italian family drama starring Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale — drew little if any box-office or awards heat, opening to just $4 million, despite playing at 2,133 locations.

Meanwhile, opening in even worse shape at 1,005 locations, Full Circle Releasing sparsely promoted “Twilight” send-up “Transylmania” underpermed even its modest $1 million pre-release estimates, grossing just $281,000 over its first three days.

As far as incumbents go, all of the films that drove the last two weeks at the domestic box office to record-breaking heights were down 50 percent or more.

Decliners included Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” (in fourth place with $7.5 million and down 52 percent) and “Old Dogs” (down 59 percent to $6.9 million), as well as Sony’s “2012” (down 62 percent to $6.6 million) and Warner’s “Ninja Assassin” (also down 62 percent to $5 million).

With screens in short supply and niche-targeted, awards-aspiring movies in abundance, several films are biding their time, waiting for expansion.

Weinstein-distributed Cormac McCarthy adaptation “The Road,” for instance, grossed an estimated $794,000 playing in only a handful more venues (128); Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” made $794,000 at two New York and Burbank locations, and is poised to go wide next weekend; and Lionsgate’s “Precious” added $2.3 million standing pat at 664 theaters.

And with a rush of widely released holiday-season entries about to make things even more crowded — “Invictus” and “The Lovely Bones” open next weekend, for example – some movies finishing outside the top 10 are looking straight down the barrel of unprofitability, save for a late awards-season reprieve.

Released in only 285 locations this weekend after maxing out at 883 two weeks ago, and shot for a reported $50 million, Focus’ “Pirate Radio” grossed $335,000, bringing its four-week domestic total to just $7.4 million.

Meanwhile, Fox’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a Wes Anderson-directed animated PG film voice-starring Clooney and Meryl Streep, grossed just $2.9 million this weekend at 2,034 locations. That brings the picture — shot for a reported price tag of $40 million — to just $14 million after two weeks of wide release.

Here’s how the top 10 at the domestic box office shaped up this weekend based on studio projections:

The Blind Side ($20.4 mil.)
Twilight Saga: New Moon ($15.7 mil.)
Brothers ($9.7 mil.)
A Christmas Carol ($7.5 mil.)
Old Dogs ($6.9 mil.)
2012 ($6.6 mil.)
Armored ($6.6 mil.)
Ninja Assassin ($5.0 mil.)
Planet 51 ($4.3 mil.)
Everybody’s Fine ($4.0 mil.)