After Thanksgiving Weekend Record, Box Office Now Looks Like a Turkey

Brad Pitt's crime thriller "Killing Them Softly' debuts, but it's possible no movie will break $20M as the box office enters a two-week lull

Last Updated: November 29, 2012 @ 5:03 PM

One week after shattering the record for the biggest Thanksgiving weekend, the box office is entering a post-turkey, pre-“Hobbit” dead zone.

Dominated by turkey day leftovers, this week’s top ten will look a lot like last week’s – only with much smaller numbers. The studios have pulled back, convinced that many potential moviegoers will be busy shopping for the holidays. There are only two wide openers — the gritty Brad Pitt crime thriller “Killing Them Softly” and the low-budget horror film “The Collection.”

The only wide opener set for the following week is FilmDistrict’s “Playing for Keeps,” so things could remain static until Dec. 14, when Warner Bros. rolls out its blockbuster “The Hobbit.”

“Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” is a good bet to three-peat, but might not hit $20 million. After that it looks like “Skyfall,” which is in its fourth week, “Rise of the Guardians,” “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi,” with Ang Lee’s 3D epic the best bet to break out.

"Breaking Dawn 2" is still going strong. It crossed the $600 million mark in worldwide box office this week, with the vast majority of that coming from abroad. It has taken in nearly $235 million domestically but that’s been overshadowed by the $365 million the film has brought in during the same period from overseas

Also read: Box Office Shatters Thanksgiving Record Behind 'Breaking Dawn 2' and 'Skyfall'

“Killing Them Softly,” which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, was to have opened on Oct. 19. Distributor the Weinstein Company pushed it to this weekend, to move it away from “Paranormal Activity 4" and distance it from Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” which had opened a week earlier.

Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) directs and wrote the screenplay for “Killing Them Softly,” which is based on the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by George V. Higgins. Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins star in the hit-man tale, which is rated R.

It’s already opened in Australia and several European countries, and has taken in nearly $15 million, led by the U.K. with $4.4 million. Analysts see "Killing Them Softly," which will be in 2,242 theaters, landing in the $12 million range, but feel it could also surprise.

“It’s still Brad Pitt, and he has a following,” Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap. “Movies like this, where a guy like Pitt isn’t playing the good guy, are kind of a wild card and I wouldn’t be shocked if this made it to $15 million.”

“Killing Them Softly” premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and the critics were impressed. It has an 81 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was produced by Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures for around $15 million.

The other wide opener, R-rated horror thriller “The Collection,” is a sequel to LD Films’ 2009 film “The Collector,” which grossed less $10 million worldwide. It stars Emma Fitzpatrick and Josh Stewart, who returns from the first film. Marcus Dunstan directs and co-wrote with Patrick Melton.  The critics are unimpressed; it has a 53 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

t will be in 1,403 theaters. The analysts believe it could match the $3.6 million opening of the original film if it can bring out horror fans typically underserved during the holiday season.

“Skyfall," the 23rd and highest-grossing of the James Bond films, has just crossed $800 million worldwide and has a shot at becoming the year’s third billion-dollar earner worldwide, following Disney and Marvel’s “The Avengers” and “Dark Knight Rises” from Warner Bros.

Also read: Why 'Skyfall' Will Be Biggest Bond Ever at the Box Office

The 23rd Bond film has made $228 million so far in the U.S. and another $572 million abroad, so it will probably clear $300 million domestically and $600 million at the foreign box office. Japan and China are the only significant overseas markets left to go, so they will likely determine whether “Skyfall” hits a billion or not. Either way, it's the highest-grossing 007 movie of all time.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians” could use a good week. Stock in the company was off more than 5 percent this week in the wake of its disappointing $32.6 million five-day Thanksgiving haul of the CG-animated “Guardians,” which was produced at a cost of $145 million. Its holiday theme and “A” CinemaScore offer some hope that it will play through the holidays, and these next two weeks will be telling.

Disney and Fox will try to maintain momentum with their Oscar hopefuls.

“Life of Pi” surprised analysts and Fox executives with its $30 million haul over the Thanksgiving weekend. Close attention will be paid to the size of the film’s drop from its opening weekend, which will be an indicator of its word-of-mouth bump and long-term prospects. It will again be in 2,902 theaters, 2,633 of which will be 3D. In its first weekend, 3D screens accounted for 68 percent of its grosses.

Also read: With an Eye on Oscars, 'Lincoln' and 'Pi' Unexpectedly Ace Box-Office Tests

Distributor Disney will again have the DreamWorks historical drama “Lincoln” in about 2,018 theaters as it heads into its fourth weekend. Its per-screen average improved to $12,398 last week, despite the addition of more than 200 locations. It’s probably expecting too much for another rise, but “Lincoln” should be among the leaders again.