Driven by a need for respite from awkward conversation and cracking their neighbors' heads open for a discounted Takers Blu-ray, America took to the movie theaters in huge numbers over the past five days, with a box-office total of $288 million dwarfing the previous record of $58.6 million in 2009. (Though, to be fair, that was a year when families didn’t have a recent election to squabble about.) Not surprisingly, the big winner was the Thanksgiving parable of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2—a film about unquenchable hunger, bloodsucking relatives, and how the Pilgrims were really werewolves, maybe—which took in $64 million in its five-day haul, bringing it to around $577.7 million worldwide. Meanwhile, Skyfall's $51.1 million additional take kept it in second place and cemented it as the highest-grossing James Bond movie ever, while third-place finisher Lincoln brought out the whole family by capitalizing on awards-season buzz and the fact that there's maybe one chaste, 19th-century kiss in the whole thing, earning it $34.1 million.
Among new films, Lincoln's fellow presumed Oscar contender Life Of Pi pulled far bigger numbers than even the studio anticipated, earning $30.15 million—primarily thanks to a spiritually minded audience who warmed to its life-affirming message of faith in 3-D technology and CGI animals. Still, not everyone is a believer: Audiences shunned both 3-D and 2-D showings of Rise Of The Guardians, with its disappointing fourth-place finish of $32.6 million making it one of the weakest debuts in DreamWorks Animation's history and reportedly even causing the company's shares to drop. Nevertheless, the film is expected to linger on through the holidays and possibly improve its numbers the closer it gets to Christmas, when families are increasingly duty-bound to see anything that has a Santa Claus in it.
Finally, the surge of jingoistic pride and bloodlust that courses through Thanksgiving rescued Red Dawn from being an utter disaster, with the long-delayed remake opening at seventh place with a decent $22 million—numbers boosted by, unsurprisingly, theaters in "the South and in military areas," where it provided plenty of calorie-burning catharsis. Dissimilarly, those who spent the past five days binge-eating couldn't work up much appetite for watching a bloated Anthony Hopkins waddle around in Hitchcock (which pulled a middling $301,000 in 17 theaters) or a whale devour Marion Cotillard's legs in Rust And Bone ($30,200 at two theaters), as these obviously hit too close to home.
They did, however, respond to the delicious neurosis of Silver Linings Playbook, which expanded its theater count and landed at ninth place with $5.9 million—a solid if not spectacular push toward getting it the mainstream audience it needs to be a serious Oscar contender. Expect to see it get an ever-more-slightly wider release in weeks to come, perhaps with a couple of CGI tigers added in.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.