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Record Thanksgiving weekend at US box office

Holdovers Breaking Dawn 2 and Skyfall dominated the weekend box office.

It was a record-shattering Thanksgiving in the US with the top twelve films raking in $206.7 million, beating 2009’s previous record of $175.2 million over the three-day weekend.  Over-performing franchise films carried the first two spots with Twilight’s final installment Breaking Dawn Part 2 coming in first with $43 million domestically, and Bond film Skyfall coming in second with $36 million. Internationally, the films also scored first and second, earning $97.5 million and $41.3 million respectively, bringing their worldwide totals to $577.7 million for Breaking Dawn 2 and $790.1 million for Skyfall, which continues to amaze as the highest-grossing Bond film ever.

Lincoln stood tall in its second week out in the US, holding down the third spot with $25 million. The political drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Steven Spielberg is set for a late January release in the UK, and has not been released elsewhere internationally.

Long-awaited book adaptation Life of Pi premiered third internationally in just a few territories with $17.5 million. The epic tale of an Indian teenager trapped on a lifeboat with a hungry tiger has finally made it to cinemas thanks to ambitious director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain). The story’s claustrophobic setting was considered impossible to film by many, but has debuted to critical and audience praise, particularly for its stunning visual effects and lifelike CGI tiger. Life of Pi came in fifth in the US with $22 million.

Though it ranked fourth in the US and abroad, the biggest disappointment of the weekend was holiday film Rise of the Guardians, which grossed $25 million domestically and $10 million internationally. The Dreamworks Animation family film features a cast of classic kids’ characters with celebrity voices including reimagined versions of Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), The Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher). This marks a slow opening for a Dreamworks film, especially devastating given the expensive $145 million budget.

One factor to blame for Guardians’ low figures was unexpected competition from Wreck-It Ralph, which ranked sixth in the US with $16.8 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its US gross to $149.5. The arcade game-themed animation film has benefited from great word of mouth.

Iranian Hostage Crisis thriller Argo continued its success abroad, coming in fifth on the international charts with $6 million. Ranking sixth internationally was kids’ monster movie holdover Hotel Transylvania with $5.5 million.

Seventh in the US was action thriller remake Red Dawn, which premiered to a less-than-stellar $14.6 million. However, the number is good news given the film’s troubled history. It was filmed in 2009 and held up at the studio due to MGM’s financial troubles. No word yet on plans for international release.

Critical darling Silver Linings Playbook expanded slightly this weekend to 367 cinemas, bringing in a ho-hum $4.6 million in its second weekend in the US, and earning $1.6 million internationally.

Overall, the box office mustered encouraging numbers for the beginning of the holiday season. Next weekend will see the release of horror-thriller The Collection and Brad-Pitt starring crime-thriller Killing Them Softly in the US, a well as Rise of the Guardians in the UK.

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