Box office: 'Tangled' feasts as 'Burlesque, ' Faster,' 'Love & Other Drugs' fight for leftovers
Disney Animation has found its way back to the top with a princess who came down from a tower. "Tangled," the storied animation studio's six-years-in-the-making movie based on "Rapunzel," opened to a strong $69 million over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend.
It easily topped a trio of other new films -- "Burlesque," "Love & Other Drugs" and "Faster" -- which all had soft openings, according to studio estimates.
The Christina Aguilera-Cher musical "Burlesque" did the best of the three, launching to $17.2 million over five days, but it was also by far the most expensive to produce. The Jake Gyllenhaal-Anne Hathaway romantic drama "Love & Other Drugs" started with $14 million, while the Dwayne Johnson action flick "Faster" took in $12.2 million.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" was the holiday's No. 1 picture, as expected, taking in $76.3 million over five days and bringing its total after 10 days in theaters to an impressive $220.4 million. In slightly worrisome news for distributor Warner Bros., however, "Deathly Hallows" grossed less on its second weekend than 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the last movie in the series to open just before Thanksgiving, despite five years of ticket price inflation. That represents a significant drop in attendance and means the new film may end up being slightly less popular.
"Tangled" marks the first strong opening for Disney Animation Studios since 2002's "Lilo & Stitch." The legendary Burbank studio, known for hits ranging from "Snow White" to "The Lion King," has for the last several years been overshadowed by its corporate siblings at Pixar and seen a string of disappointments, including "Meet the Robinsons" and "The Princess and the Frog."
With "Tangled," Disney reworked the 3-D picture's plot, advertising and even marketing to make it more than just a "princess" movie, and appears to have succeeded, although the core audience was still mothers and daughters, with 61% of attendees female.
Despite concerns that it would be overshadowed by "Potter," the movie found a sizable family audience and generated spectacular word-of-mouth, garnering an average grade from attendees of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
"Tangled" also enjoyed solid if not huge starts in a few foreign countries, particularly Russia, where it took in $7.5 million.
"Tangled," which saw its budget balloon to more than $260 million and was six years in production, still has a tough road to profitability. But its popularity is sure to provide a much-needed shot-in-the-arm to Disney Animation Studios and even the princess-movies genre, which Disney executives previously said they were putting on hold after "Tangled."
"Burlesque" overcame withering reviews to generate good buzz among the mostly female crowds who attended, with a CinemaScore of A-. But the movie cost $55 million to make after the benefit of tax credits and was aggressively marketed, including product placement on the finale of "Dancing With the Stars" last week, making its $17.2-million start far from impressive.
The musical romance is one of the most expensive movies to date from Sony Screen Gems, which typically focuses on less costly horror film and thrillers.
Distributor 20th Century Fox and co-financier Regency Films knew "Love & Other Drugs" was unlikely to garner a big opening given the stiff competition for female moviegoers from "Burlesque" and "Tangled." Still, the film may struggle to generate good word-of-mouth as its CinemaScore was a not-too-hot B-, perhaps from moviegoers not happy with the terminal-illness theme. Moviegoers under 25 gave it a better CinemaScore of B+, however, giving Fox some hope it will keep playing to younger crowds.
CBS Films had hoped that with "Faster," its third release, it would find its first hit by appealing to men on a weekend dominated with female-centric movies. But the R-rated action film had the slowest start of any new picture. Still, it cost CBS and its partner Sony Pictures only $24 million to make, meaning it's far from a financial disaster. And although the CinemaScore was a disappointing C+, "Faster" was the only new movie to see ticket sales improve every day from Wednesday through Saturday, usually a sign of good word-of-mouth.
Several returning movies besides "Harry Potter" enjoyed a strong hold over Thanksgiving. Most notably, the Denzel Washington-Chris Pine thriller "Unstoppable" lived up to its name, with ticket sales down only 10% for the three-day weekend. It raked in $16.2 million for the five-day weekend.
The animated comedy "Megamind" enjoyed a 19% third-weekend drop despite the competition for families from "Tangled." It grossed $17.6 million from Wednesday through Sunday.
[Update, 11:05 a.m.: Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com, along with international grosses when available. Grosses are from Wednesday through Sunday, but percentage declines for returning movies are on a three-day basis.
2. "Tangled" (Disney): Opened to $69 million.
3. "Megamind" (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount): $17.6 million over five days in its fourth week in theaters, down 19% on a three-day basis. Domestic total: $130.5 million. $625,000 overseas in 11 markets. International total: $32.6 million.
4. "Burlesque" (Sony Screen Gems): Opened to $17.2 million.
5. "Unstoppable" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $16.2 million over five days in its third week in theaters, down 10% on a three-day basis. Domestic total: $60.7 million. $9.2 million overseas in 50 foreign markets. International total: $43.2 million.
6. "Love & Other Drugs" (Fox/Regency): Opened to $14 million.
7. "Faster" (CBS/Sony): Opened to $12.2 million.
8. "Due Date" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $10.4 million over five days in its fourth week in theaters, down 18% on a three-day basis. Domestic total: $85 million. $8.2 million overseas in 44 foreign markets. International total: $73 million.
9. "The Next Three Days" (Lionsgate) $6.6 million over five days in its second week in theaters, down 27% on a three-day basis. Domestic total: $14.6 million.
10. "Morning Glory" (Paramount): $5.5 million over five days in ints third week in theaters, down 23% on a three-day basis. Domestic total: $26.5 million.]
Photos, from top: A scene from "Tangled." Credit: Walt Disney Studios. Christina Aguilera in "Burlesque." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / Screen Gems. Dwayne Johnson in "Faster." Credit: CBS Films