Movie projector: ‘New Moon’ to dominate again as three new movies look soft

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‘New Moon’ will fade over the long Thanksgiving weekend, but it still has a virtual lock on No. 1 at the box office.

While three movies -- ‘Old Dogs,’ ‘Ninja Assassin,’ and ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’ -- are opening or expanding nationwide on today, the biggest story will be how much ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ declines from its massive $142.8 million domestic opening. All signs point to a drop about equal to that of the original ‘Twilight’ on Thanksgiving weekend last year: 62%. Ticket sales for the sequel have followed roughly the same trend as its predecessor each day since opening Friday.


An equivalent decline over the holiday would give ‘New Moon’ a domestic gross of about $85 million from Wednesday through Sunday and $55 million for the three-day weekend. By the end of the week, its domestic total could easily be $250 million.

Overseas, where the ‘Twilight’ sequel opens in 33 new territories this week on top of its existing 24, the total could easily be the same. So far its international gross is $132 million.

After ‘New Moon’ blew away expectations last weekend, however, few in Hollywood feel comfortable making predictions on how it will perform going forward. It’s quite possible that the movie could beat industry predictions once again.

Last weekend’s No. 2 picture, meanwhile, has a good shot at holding on to that position as well. Alcon Entertainment’s ‘The Blind Side’ opened to a very strong $34.1 million and earned a perfect A+ score from audiences, indicating that its second weekend decline will be mild.

The highest-profile movie opening today may be the one in the most trouble. Walt Disney Studios’ comedy ‘Old Dogs’ is on track to significantly underperform the very similar ‘Wild Hogs.’ While the latter picture, which also starred John Travolta and was directed by Walt Becker, opened to $39.7 million in March 2007, the new movie will likely sell less than $30 million worth of tickets over the five-day holiday weekend, according to people who have seen pre-release polling.

‘Old Dogs’ appears to be generating some interest among adults over 30, but it’s unclear whether families -- needed to boost the box office -- will attend.

‘Ninja Assassin’ is targeting young men and is tracking decently with that audience. Dark Castle Entertainment and Legendary Pictures produced the action movie, which stars the Korean action star Rain and will be distributed by Warner Bros., for a little less than $50 million. It’s on track to gross about $20 million over five days.

20th Century Fox is opening its well-reviewed stop-motion animated flick ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ around the country after it racked up a healthy $562,000 over the last two weeks in four theaters. While the studio is trying to market the film to a family audience -- one ad touted it as ‘from the studio that brought you ‘Ice Age,’ ' although the two pictures are very different in style -- it doesn’t appear to be catching on and may struggle to gross more than $10 million from Wednesday through Sunday. ‘Mr Fox,’ which cost about $35 million to produce and is based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, appears to be generating more interest from young male fans of director Wes Anderson than parents of young kids.

In the U.K., home country of Dahl where the movie opened Oct. 23, it has already collected a solid $13.7 million.

In limited release this weekend, The Weinstein Co. opens the post-apocalyptic drama ‘The Road,’ based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, in 113 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. 2929 Productions financed the film for about $25 million, but Weinstein Co. is distributing it and footing the marketing costs.

Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ the studio’s first hand-drawn animated feature in five years, debuts at two theaters in Los Angeles and New York City today. Because ticket prices will be exceptionally high as part of an experience including games and other activities, per theater grosses will undoubtedly be large.

--Ben Fritz

Top photo: Ella Bleu Travolta, John Travolta and Conner Rayburn in ‘Old Dogs.’ Credit: Ron Phillips / Disney.