WINNER OF THE WEEK: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Okay, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln didn’t exactly take an ax to the massive grosses of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, but it still took a bigger-than-expected bite out of the weekend box office. After last weekend’s impressive limited-release debut, the biopic expanded wide and raked in an estimated $21.0 million, good for third place. Not too shabby, considering that the Daniel Day-Lewis movie had pundits predicting a gross as low as $11 million. But his much-buzzed-about performance drew grown-up audiences who might otherwise have poked their heads into Breaking Dawn Part 2 or Skyfall.
Skyfall, by the way, did lose 53 percent of last week’s business, but falling to an estimated $41.5 million in its second weekend was still good enough for second place. The latest James Bond film has grossed $161.3 million in 10 days. Wreck-It Ralph continued to have the kiddie audience to itself, coming in fourth with an estimated $18.3 million, for a three-weekend total of $121.5 million. In fifth place, Flight lost altitude, dropping 42 percent from last week to an estimated $8.6 million, for a total to date of $61.3 million that will stall well shy of $100 million by the end of its run.
LOSERS OF THE WEEK: Team Edward and Team Jacob. Granted, it’s hard to call a movie a loser that opened with an estimated $141.3 million. Still the fifth and final Twilight had been expected to be the biggest, when actually, it sucked up just a bit less in ticket sales than the second installment, New Moon (which opened with $142.8 million in 2009). Experts had expected it to bite off at least $150 million, so the actual take is a mild disappointment. Still, word-of-mouth is strong, and the movie does have some adult appeal, so it’s not entirely dependent on the teen girl audience that made up the bulk of the opening-weekend crowd. So despite an opening that didn’t soar over the fence, there’s no reason to think Breaking Dawn Part 2 won’t end up in the same ballpark as the rest of the vampire franchise.
WATCH YOUR BACK, BELLA: Like The Twilight Saga‘s Kristen Stewart, who’ll be astonishing audiences next month by playing a very un-Bella-like sexual libertine in On the Road, rising starlets Jennifer Lawrence and Keira Knightley seem to feel just as comfortable stretching in indie and art-house films as they do working in mainstream blockbusters. This weekend, both unveiled Oscar-baiting performances in The Silver Linings Playbook and Anna Karenina, respectively. Lawrence may be as big a draw in Playbook as co-stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, and not because anyone expects her to remind them of The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen. Frequent Pirates of the Caribbean heroine Knightley always manages to breathe passionate, fiery life into highbrow literature when she works with director Joe Wright, who also directed her in Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Both Playbook and Anna Karenina showed signs of living up to their art-house hype with this weekend’s strong openings on just 16 screens each. Playbook earned an estimated $458,000, or about $29,000 per screen, while Anna Karenina scored an estimated $315,000, or about $20,000 per screen. (Those numbers are nearly two or three times what the impressive Lincoln made per screen this weekend.) Such figures suggest that both Lawrence and Knightley will do very well when their movies open wide – and that the two actresses will continue to be able to balance their careers between art and commerce.