Just like in Skyfall, Bond is back. After debuting in first place, Skyfall spent three weeks playing second fiddle to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn--Part 2. Now that steeply declining franchise finale has dropped to third with $9.2 million. Skyfall, declining just 33% from last week, rose to first place with $11 million. That gives the Daniel Craig-led movie a total of $256 million in the U.S., plus another $656 million abroad for a total of $918 million. At this point, I bet Sony's counting its pennies and trying to see if it can top the $1 billion mark. The ten-figure mark aside, the movie is close to being the studio's most successful in five years. For a franchise release that was delayed for so many years thanks to MGM's bankruptcy, this is the best possible outcome. Maybe Hollywood can learn a lesson that spacing apart franchise titles and putting together a quality script can lead to a huge payoff.
After a poor debut and a 43% drop in its second weekend, Rise of the Guardians leveled its fall with a 20% slide to $10.5 million. The DreamWorks Animation title has been something of a disappointment, but the holiday-themed tale may be able to hold onto an audience through Christmas. In two weeks, it will have the 3D re-release of Monsters Inc. to contend with, but that's about it in the family entertainment department.
Playing for Keeps, the only new wide release of the week, did just about as poorly as expected, debuting with a total of $6 million. Gerard Butler's career is now in critical mode, since he also appeared in the surfing flop Chasing Mavericks. He's already filmed his next role, in 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, so he really needs that movie to be a success to help revive his career.
End of Watch had a moderately successful re-expansion into over 1,000 theatres. The goal was to break $1 million, but the cop procedural finished with $733,000. Still, considering last week the movie earned just $22,000, the increase in theatre count added a nice chunk to the total.
Hyde Park on Hudson debuted to a $20,000 per-screen average in four locations in New York and Los Angeles. With many awards-leaning pictures opening in the $50,000 to $70,000 per-screen range, that's not good. It looks like the story of a romance between FDR and his cousin will be passed over both by critics and by audiences.
Ed Burns' Fitzgerald Family Christmas put in a $3,400 per-screen average in four locations. Burns' Irish Catholic stories have a following, but it's unclear if they all showed up opening weekend or if the opening is a launching point to nice holiday run.
This Friday, one of the most anticipated movies of the year comes out. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will release in over 4,000 locations, with many theatres showing it in 3D and select locations previewing director Peter Jackson's high-frame-rate version.