TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING
Twilight's gleaming didn't last long. The film, which astonished box-office analysts by opening with nearly $70 million a week ago, fell to third place with just $26.4 million over the three-day weekend and $39.5 million for the holiday period starting on Wednesday. The big winner was Four Christmases, which also surprised analysts by taking in an estimated $31.7 million for the Friday-Sunday weekend and $46.7 million from Wednesday. In second place was Disney's animated comedy Bolt, with $26.6 million for the three-day weekend and $36 million for the five-.In limited release, Milk, starring Sean Penn as San Francisco gay activist Harvey Milk, opened in 36 theaters, averaged $52,000 in each. (Four Christmases averaged $14,000 per theater.) Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire averaged $36,000 in each of its 49 theaters in its second week. Overall, ticket sales were up 3.7 percent over the comparable weekend a year ago to $236 million from $227.6 million, according to box office trackers Media by Numbers.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Four Christmases, $31.7 million; 2. Bolt, $26.6 million; 3. Twilight, $26.4 million; 4. Quantum of Solace, $19.5 million; 5. Australia, $14.8 million; 6. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, $14.5 million; 7. Transporter 3, $12.3 million; 8. Role Models, $5.3 million; 9. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, $1.7 million; 10. Milk, $1.4 million.
LIGHTS DIM FOR BOLLYWOOD
The siege in Mumbai sent shockwaves throughout India's Bollywood film industry located in that city, once known as Bombay. Many productions shut down, and the bollywood.com website posted a report noting, "No one is in the mood to return to work" and concluding, "Bollywood is in no mood to forgive, forget and move on." Many theaters throughout the city shut down during the siege, presumably concerned that a crowded cinema might represent a prime target for terrorists. Ironically, the attacks concluded on the very day that a British film set in Mumbai won the top prize at the British Independent Film Awards. Slumdog Millionaire, which also attracted huge crowds during its limited release in the U.S. over the weekend, also won for best director (Danny Boyle) and best newcomer (Dev Patel). Speaking at the awards ceremonies, Ben Kingsley, who won a best-actor Oscar for his 1982 portrayal of Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi, said, "I really hope India can shake this off, because so many people want to be there and invest there and enjoy their industry and economy." Reuters noted that the attacks coincide with a growing alliance between Hollywood and India. Asia media analyst Vivek Couto told the wire service, "The timing couldn't have been worse. ... What will be important to see are capital flows in India."
UNION/STUDIOS BUTT HEADS
The Screen Actors Guild and Hollywood studio heads each accused the other of greed over the Thanksgiving holiday. SAG President Alan Rosenberg led off the latest barrage by responding to criticism that during the current economic turmoil it was a bad time to be talking of a strike. "Like it's our fault," he said. "We are the victims of corporate greed. We didn't cause this turmoil." The heads of the six major studios and the heads of CBS and NBC responded in an open letter published as an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times: "SAG is demanding that the entire industry literally throw out all of its hard work because it believes it deserves more than the 230,000 other working people in the business," they said. "To comply with SAG's demands would mean SAG merits more than everyone else. Saying yes would jeopardize the trust we have so carefully established with the rest of the industry."