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'Up in the Air' takes off in limited release as box office keeps booming

UpAir Strong reviews and an early awards win drove "Up in the Air" to a spectacular takeoff, as the George Clooney drama sold a studio-estimated $1.2 million worth of tickets in just 15 theaters.

That's the third-biggest opening in limited release for any movie this year and by far the most impressive debut of any film this weekend.

Despite soft starts for "Brothers," "Armored," "Everybody's Fine" and "Transylmania," overall ticket sales grew 22.6% from the same weekend a year ago, according to Hollywood.com. The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally a very slow one at the box office.

"Up in the Air" collected an average of $79,000 at each of its 15 theaters. That's more than any other movie this year except "The Princess and the Frog" -- which has benefited over the last two weeks from ticket prices as high as $50 for a multi-hour "experience" at two locations in Los Angeles and New York -- and "Precious."  It's also more than director Jason Reitman's previous two pictures, "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking," which went on to gross $143.5 million and $24.8 million, respectively.

Paramount, which co-financed "Up in the Air" with Montecito Picture Co. at a cost of $25 million, will expand the movie over the next few weeks until it is playing nationwide by Christmas.

Alcon Entertainment's "The Blind Side" took the top spot at the box office, as it declined a relatively modest 49% after a spectacular Thanksgiving.

Brothers "Brothers," financed by Relativity Media for $26 million and distributed by Lionsgate, opened to a soft $9.7 million. Audiences gave it an average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Combined with very mixed reviews from critics, it remained to be seen whether the war drama directed by Jim Sheridan will hold on at the box office or fade quickly.

Sony's action thriller "Armored," Miramax's family comedy "Everybody's Fine" and Full Circle's horror comedy "Transylmania" all had weak debuts, launching to $6.6 million, $4 million and $274,000, respectively.

Overseas, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" remains very strong, grossing $40.7 million this weekend, much more than the $15.7 million it collected domestically. Sony's "2012," meanwhile, took in $35 million overseas, bringing its international total to a phenomenal $517.5 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros./Alcon): $20.4 million, down 49% on its third weekend. Domestic total: $129.3 million.

2. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (Summit): $15.7 million on its third weekend, off 63%. Total domestic ticket sales: $255.6 million. International: $314.5 million.

3. "Brothers" (Lionsgate/Relativity): $9.7 million debut.

4. "A Christmas Carol" (Disney): Fell 52% on its fifth weekend to $7.5 million. $115 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales so far.

5. "Old Dogs" (Disney): Dropped 59% on its second weekend to $6.9 million, bringing its total to $33.9 million.

6. "Armored" (Sony): Opened to $6.6 million.

6. "2012" (Sony): $6.6 million on its fourth weekend, a decline of 63%. $148.8 million domestic total. Foreign total: $517.5 million.

8. "Ninja Assassin" (Warner Bros./Dark Castle/Legendary): 62% drop on its second weekend to $5 million, bringing ticket sales thus far to $29.8 million.

9. "Planet 51" (Sony/Ilion): $4.3 million, off 58% on its third weekend. Domestic total: $34 million.

10. "Everybody's Fine" (Miramax/Radar): $4 million debut.

--Ben Fritz

Top photo: Anna Kendrick and George Clooney in "Up in the Air." Credit: Dale Robinette / DreamWorks Studios  Bottom photo: Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brothers." Credit: Lorey Sebastian / Lionsgate

Comments () | Archives (6)

Saw Brothers yesterday and loved it! Talk about an emotional rollercoaster .. It's good seeing Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portmand, and Jake Gyllenhaal all together in one movie finally. Definitely Oscar worthy!

As someone who works in “outplacement” I found "Up In The Air" credible to a point. Here is where it falls short:
1. Outplacement consultants seldom deliver the layoff notification. That job is typically left to the company’s management because of the potential for liability among other things. Outplacement consultants are present to explain the service the company has contracted for the employee as part of their severance package.
2. I never tell the effected employee to look at anything on the bright side. There is no bright side, especially if you’ve lost a job in Southern California where there are few alternative jobs.
3. A consultant never carrier an arm load of career consulting brochures through an active work area. In fact, I go so far as signing in at the front desk without giving the name of my company to avoid rumors.
Clooney’s part gave the industry a black eye. Everyone I know who have been in the outplacement business are compassionate because they usually also counsel many of the same people they meet with at the layoff notification.
The movie is however, relevant to the America’s disastrous economic condition. Anyone who still has their job is whistling past the graveyard. We are gripped by 17% to 18% real unemployment and the band plays on.

Sean M,

You'd have more credibility if you could spell correctly ("affected", not "effected") and you didn't sound so whiny.

Movies I saw this weekend:
35 Shots of Rum: A-, The Road: A-, Brothers: B-

When Brothers ended I was like what? It's over? Why didn't they show the more interesting reacclimation of him into the family. It skimmed on some of what could've been the meatier parts.

over hyped, Up in the Air is in 3RD place of the current films that star Mr Clooney...myself and the other 3 adults who saw it this past weekend will not be giving good word of mouth about it. We have also seen the other 2, and all agree both are better than the Up in the Air offering.But hey, we're just the movie goers, not the critics.

I went and watched the Danish original of "Brothers". Interestingly, the American version is very, very close, perhaps slightly improved (I mean, other than having everyone comment on Natalie Portman's beauty, which seemed to be an attempt at providing more character depth), certainly much better photographed, but both ultimately suck for the exact same reason; the Toby MacGuire character isn't given enough reason to transform into an own-side killer, and thus the show comes off as unfairly anti-military.

Typical actor-bait of a few great scenes, but paying no attention whatsoever to the bigger picture. It _should_ have been altered more in translation.


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