Everything pretty much is working out at this weekend’s box office as was predicted Thursday night. The exception being that, as a whole, the post-Thanksgiving Day letdown may be slightly bigger than expected. To be specific, as prognosticators prognosticated, Disney’s “Tangled” led the box office derby.
Showing the usual strength of well-received family-animated comedies, the film formerly known as “Rapunzel” earned an estimated $21.5 million over the weekend. The less than thrilling news here is that, as calculated by Box Office Mojo‘s indispensable weekend chart, it suffered a rather larger than usual second weekend drop for its genre of 55.9%. Still, I’m guessing we can attribute some of that to the post-holiday doldrums.
On the sunny side of the equation, the musical action comedy is already very close to the $100 million in its second weekend, and that’s never bad. On the other hand, the typically enormous CGI animation budget of $260 million makes that kind of number seem a hair less impressive. On the other other hand, when you consider not only the the worldwide box office, but the licensing, I think it’s fair to say that “Tangled” will be another profitable feather in the ever-more-humongous Disney cap.
Speaking of licensing, the runner-up was, of course, the once wizardly “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.” Warner Brother’s deposit to Gringott’s this weekend is a relatively modest estimated $16.7 million, but the film will be hitting $300 million in the domestic market alone within a few weeks, so there’s no worries about this franchise in any way stumbling in its penultimate outing.
The weekend’s one new major release with the quirky and limited marketing campaign, “The Warrior’s Way,” I suppose proved the wisdom of hired distributor Relativity Media’s fiscal caution. At least that’s kinda sorta how they framed it over at Nikki Finke‘s place. Finke and Anthony D’Alessandro also noted that the film earned a C- Cinemascore rating to go with the tepid reviews of the few critics who shelled out coin to see it. The take was, to be blunt, pretty dismal — just over $3 million, though I should note it was in only about half the number of theaters of a typical wide release, so it could have been worse. On the other hand, that figure puts it in 9th place on its opening weekend, just below another action film not pre-screened for critics, last weekend’s “Faster.” On the other other hand (again), it’s per-screen take of “Warrior” was a couple hundred higher than its modern day macho competition.
Arguably, the really major box office action as Oscar season nears a climax was on the limited release front. “Black Swan.” In 18 theaters, the Darren Aronofsky film that reportedly combines dance, melodrama and psychological/body horror in the traditions of both early Roman Polanski and, I’m guessing, middle-period David Cronenberg (Dario Argento is getting name-checked as well, but probably more for style than bloodletting), benefited from huge buzz, Oscar talk for and the star power of Natalie Portman. It might also have a significant boost, from costars Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, and perhaps especially villainous Vincent Cassel. The French actor is emerging as something of a true international superstar with movies like the two-part “Mesrine” gangster opus and is a hugely familiar face to art-house audiences here.
Released by Fox Searchlight, “Black Swan” is getting very good reviews though a backlash is already building up over a plot and atmosphere that fans and foes alike seem to agree goes way over the top. The question is, it over the top in a good way or a bad way? It’s certainly going over the top in a lucrative way; it earned a whopping per screen average of $77,444 in 18 theaters for an estimated total of roughly $1.39 million. That’s just about $10,000 shy of being half of what “The Warrior’s Way” made in 1,622 theaters. Think about that.
I could end it right there, but I like to send a shout out to the underdogs — even when they star, unbelievably enough, Jim Carrey. The quirky same-sex rom-com and true crime flick costarring Ewan McGregor, “I Love You Phillip Morris,” did manage to hold up against the gay-and-gal friendly onslaught of the “Black Swan” well in its 6 theater release. It earned a solid per-screen average in six theaters of $18,833 for an entirely decent estimated total of $113,000 for distributor Roadside Attractions.