WINNER OF THE WEEK: Disney. In a ho-hum week at the box office, the House of Mouse boasts the best news: It crossed the $2 billion mark in international ticket sales for the third straight year. (It crossed the $1 billion mark in domestic sales in July.) A lot of credit belongs to the toons: to Pixar (Brave), to Disney’s own in-house animators (Wreck-It Ralph), and to 3D reissues of classics like Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo, actions that have no doubt sent the rest of the studios scrambling through their vaults for dusty chestnuts that still have more appeal than their current slates.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Gerard Butler. On the heels of his recent flop, Chasing Mavericks, comes his romantic comedy Playing for Keeps, which couldn’t even beat a slate full of weeks-old leftovers. It debuted in sixth place with an estimated $6.0 million, behind a line-up of movies released three to five weeks ago. Not that anyone expected it to do any better.
Among those, the leader was Skyfall, reclaiming the top spot with an estimated $11 million, for a total that could eventually cross $300 million (it’s at $261.6 so far). Close behind the James Bond film was holiday toon Rise of the Guardians, with an estimated $10.5 million and a three-weekend total of $61.9 million. Dethroned after three weeks, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 fell to third place with an estimated $9.2 million, for a total of $268.7 million after three weeks. Lincoln came in fourth with an estimated $9.1 million and a five-week total of $97.3 million. And Life of Pi was fifth, earning an estimated $8.3 million for a total of $60.9 million over three weeks.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP: Last week, we wondered why Silver Linings Playbook wasn’t taking advantage of its strong reviews and word-of-mouth, as well as a relatively open playing field, to expand into more theaters. We could ask the same question this week, especially when so many other awards-hopeful movies did expand, as if to take advantage of the last possible moment to capture an audience before winter begins/fiscal year 2012 ends/awards season starts in earnest/The Hobbit comes along next week and wreaks havoc on the marketplace/all of the above. Theater counts rose this weekend for Anna Karenina, End of Watch, and Hitchcock. Even Alex-freaking-Cross, a movie whose chances for awards-season glory are right up there with the New York Jets’ likelihood of winning the Super Bowl, nearly doubled its theater count this weekend, from 114 to 214. So why is Silver still sitting on the bench?
For that matter, why didn’t Lincoln expand? This was the only week in its run that the biopic had a chance to top the box office. At the very least, it could have cracked $100 million instead of falling just shy. Or did Disney, with its $2 billion news, feel it had enough to brag about already?