Master of Disaster: $225M Worldwide for Emmerich’s ‘2012’

Filmmaker’s latest cinematic apocalypse opens huge for Sony, taking in $65 million domestically

Last Updated: November 15, 2009 @ 4:18 PM

Sunday box-office update:

Once again, it was the end of the world as Roland Emmerich knows it, and it’s Sony that feels just fine.

The filmmaker’s latest disaster epic, "2012," took in $225 million worldwide its first weekend, while outpacing projections in North America with a box-office leading $65 million premiere, according to studio data.

Coming in second at the domestic box office was "Disney’s A Christmas Carol," Robert Zemeckis’ 3D animated Charles Dickens adaptation, which dropped only 26 percent for its second weekend and finished with $22.3 million.

Lionsgate’s "Precious" continued to draw huge numbers via minimal engagements, finishing third with $6.1 million in only 174 playdates.

Finishing in the middle of the pack in its third weekend of release, "Michael Jackson’s This Is It" experienced a 61 percent week-to-week drop with a $5.1 million three-day take. The concert-rehearsal film has now brought in $67.2 domestically for Sony.

More to come.

Saturday box-office update:

Mayhem master Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster piece “2012” opened to $23.7 million at the domestic box office Friday, putting it on pace for a $60 million weekend that would exceed pre-release projections, according to studio data.

Opening simultaneously in 58 territories, the film also made $36 million in foreign grosses Friday, putting it on track for a worldwide opening that could reach $170 million.

Finishing in second place Friday, Disney’s Robert Zemeckis 3D Charles Dickens adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” dropped 38 percent from its premiere a week prior with $5.5 million.

Playing in only 174 venues, Lionsgate awards hopeful “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire” continued to pack houses, generating $1.9 million Friday.

Meanwhile, one other opening of significant size this weekend, Focus Features’ "Pirate Radio," took in $882,000 Friday playing at 882 theaters.

As for “2012,” it’s an auspicious start for a $200 million apocalyptic-themed film, which stars John Cusack, Amanda Peet and Woody Harrelson. A typically action-packed Emmerich delivery, it’s an easily translatable movie that appears as if it’s doing what the filmmakers offerings do best – play big abroad.

Emmerich’s 2004 disaster movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” for example, earned 66 percent of its $544.3 million global box-office haul in international ticket sales. It opened to $68.7 million on a Memorial Day weekend.

Sony reported Friday that "2012" has already gotten off to a hot start in France, where it enjoyed the second biggest non-sequel opening. With global prints and advertising costs exceeding $100 million, it will probably need to match or exceed "Day After Tomorrow’s" performance to be considered profitable.

For its part, “A Christmas Carol” also has a comparable model from 2004 that foretells decent things.

Director Zemeckis’ last holiday-themed motion-capture-animated film, “The Polar Express,” dropped 32 percent in its second week after an unspectacular $23.3 million early-November opening.

However, with no additional play dates, the movie spiked 24 percent in its third week, to $19.4 million, as Thanksgiving drew near.

After getting off to a soft $31.5 million start last weekend, Disney hopes “A Christmas Carol,” shot for $200 million, enjoys a similar arc.

Here’s how the top 10 shaped up Friday at the box office:

2012 ($23.7 mil.)

Disney’s A Christmas Carol ($5.5 mil.)

The Men Who Stare at Goats ($2.0 mil.)

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire ($1.9 mil.)

The Fourth Kind ($1.8 mil.)

Michael Jackson’s This Is It ($1.5 mil.)

Paranormal Activity ($1.5 mil.)

Couples Retreat ($1.4 mil.)

Law Abiding Citizen ($1.3 mil.)

The Box ($1.1 mil.)