Playing for Keeps, the only movie brave enough to open the week before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, tanked this weekend, which allowed box office sensation Skyfall to move back in to first place in its fifth outing. The Top 12 wound up with just under $73 million, which makes this the third-lowest-grossing weekend of the year. Skyfall eased 35 percent to $10.8 million, which brings its domestic total to an incredible $261.4 million. The movie is now a day away from passing The Amazing Spider-Man ($262 million) to become Sony's highest-grossing movie in over five years. It's also the first movie to take the top spot in its fifth weekend since How to Train Your Dragon did so in April 2010*.
If it's not clear enough already, Skyfall is easily one of the biggest box office successes of 2012. It's now on pace to wind up with around $290 million, which is over $120 million more than Quantum of Solace's previous Bond record ($168.4 million). This is a great example of strong franchise management: by bringing in a quality director (Sam Mendes) and allowing plenty of time for script rewrites (due in no small part to MGM's bankruptcy issues), the end product wound up delighting audiences in such a way that word-of-mouth was and continues to be very enthusiastic.
In second place, Rise of the Guardians eased 22 percent to $10.4 million. That strong hold is due to the movie's Christmas connection, and it should continue to perform well through the end of the month. Unfortunately, it's only made $61.8 million so far, and $100 million is still probably out of reach.
Three-time winner The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 fell 47 percent to $9.2 million. The fifth and final Twilight movie has now grossed $268.7 million, which puts it $1.4 million ahead of New Moon through the same point. Lincoln had another great weekend, dipping 33 percent to $8.9 million. Steven Spielberg's biopic has already earned $97.1 million, and it will pass Argo sometime next weekend to become the highest-grossing movie among the current Best Picture contenders.
For the third-straight weekend, Life of Pi wound up in fifth place. The Ang Lee book adaptation was off 31 percent to $8.33 million, and its $60.95 million total trails Rise of the Guardians by less than $1 million.
In sixth place, Playing for Keeps bombed with just $5.75 million from 2,837 theaters. That's star Gerard Butler's second flop in less than two months following Chasing Mavericks, which has to-date only earned $5.8 million.
With a light, unimpressive marketing effort, Playing for Keeps never really had much of a chance. There was nothing distinguishing about the movie, and it was hard to classify (not in the good way). Was it a romantic comedy? A sports movie? A father-son story? It may be "all of the above," but it's tough to sell that in a 30-second ad.
Excluding movies like Ted (which is first and foremost a buddy comedy), the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the year is April's Think Like a Manwith $91.5 million, and the next runner-up is What to Expect When You're Expecting with just $41.2 million. This can partly be blamed on poor offerings, but it's also worth considering whether date night audiences are tiring of this genre.
The audience for Playing for Keeps was 58 percent female and 74 percent were 25 years of age or older. The movie received a "B+" CinemaScore, suggesting audiences liked the movie a lot better than critics did (it currently has a terrible 2 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
In tenth place, Killing Them Softly plummeted 59 percent to $2.8 million. That steep drop isn't surprising given the toxic word-of-mouth ("F" CinemaScore); with just $11.83 million in the bank so far, the Brad Pitt crime drama will likely be disappearing from theaters by Christmas.
In an attempt to take advantage of the dearth of new offerings (and, hopefully, kick up some Oscar buzz for Michael Pena's performance), Open Road Films expanded End of Watch in to 1,249 theaters this weekend. The movie added a decent $751,623, which helped push its total to just under $40 million. Hyde Park on Hudson debuted to $81,362 at four theaters this weekend, which translates to a very modest $20,341 average. That's not a particularly good start for a Focus Features release in pricey Los Angeles/New York theaters. With generally poor reviews and next-to-zero awards attention, and with a crowded upcoming schedule, it's hard to imagine this Franklin D. Roosevelt movie gaining much traction.
*This article originally listed Avatar as the last movie to take first place in its fifth weekend. In fact, that honor belongs to How to Train Your Dragon in April 2010.