No disrespect to The Princess and The Frog—which topped the charts with a solid, if not spectacular, $25 million—but the animated film feels like an appetizer to the main course that will be Avatar. Landing in theaters on Friday (as if you hadn’t heard) and fresh off a Best Picture win from the New York Film Critics Online, it would be a total shock if James Cameron’s latest epic didn’t shatter some major records. Or, y’know, at least do as well as New Moon. Until then though, this quaint opening for the Disney cartoon will have to suffice. As we do each Monday, here’s a breakdown of the top five at the box office.
1. The Princess and The Frog: $25 million ($27.8 million total)
Those folks who thought the opening for A Christmas Carol was a bust, probably feel the same way about The Princess and The Frog. And, just like before, they’re wrong. The opening for Disney’s return to traditional 2-D animation might not seem very mighty, but it did manage to score the biggest debut ever for an animated film released in December. Moreover, with an “A” grade from Cinemascore, the chances are good that Princess winds up with strong legs throughout the holiday season. Contrary to popular belief, Pixar films aren’t the only way Disney’s animation wing can make money.
2. The Blind Side: $15.4 million ($150.2 million total)
Speaking of legs: Sandra Bullock has them and she knows how to use them! After four weeks, The Blind Side still hasn’t dropped below second place. Down just 23 percent, the football drama topped $150 million making it the second film starring Ms. Bullock to do so in 2009 (with The Proposal being the other). In case you were wondering, All About Steve only needs another $117 million to make it three. Can someone say re-release?
3. Invictus: $9 million ($9 million total)
The other wide release of the weekend, Invictus, opened with a disappointing $9 million. For reference, that’s less than what Brothers grossed last weekend, despite not possessing names like Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman in its credits. Still, films directed by Mr. Eastwood are notoriously slow earners at their outset (Gran Torino notwithstanding), meaning Invictus could have a long run towards respectability, especially if it winds up with some Oscar nominations. And, hey, this is still the biggest opening ever for a movie about rugby. So there’s that.
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon: $8 million ($267.3 million total)
After two straight weekends of massive losses, New Moon stabilized this weekend, shedding “only” 48 percent of its audience en route to $8 million. Coincidentally, that is exactly what Twilight grossed during this frame last year. The original film had another $41 million left in its coffers, so if New Moon follows suit it will cross $300 million domestic sometime in January. Early prediction: Eclipse won’t do as well when the saga continues in June.
5. A Christmas Carol: $6.8 million ($124.4 million total)
With the lowest decline in the top-ten—a ridiculously scant 11 percent—A Christmas Carol found itself in the top-five for a sixth straight week. But whether or not it can remain there once more is another story altogether. On the one hand, A Christmas Carol is moving full steam ahead into Christmastime making it seasonally appropriate; on the other, Avatar is prepared to take away many of its IMAX showings, which will put a crimp in its earnings potential. Stay tuned…