Fears that the R-word would keep audiences from the movies this weekend were unfounded, as the name "Reese Witherspoon" still proved an impressive multiplex draw. Have another helping of turkey-chip pancakes topped with cranberry syrup and a pat of yam, as we grind down to the last of the leftovers and run down the box office numbers:
1. Four Christmases - $31.68 million
Stir-crazy holiday audiences were looking for literally any excuse to escape their parents' homes for a few hours that didn't involve tweenpires, hamster bowling, or Nicole Kidman brandishing a wombat rifle. Four Christmases therefore was the default candidate, and surprised everyone by becoming the third-highest Thanksgiving weekend earner on record (right back to the Mayflower days!). Unfortunately, Witherspoon and screen-spouse Vince Vaughn were barely able to mask what the Guardian describes as "the classic 'Hollywood romcom' face: waxy as a corpse, dead-eyed with self-loathing, and as smiley and blank as someone who has just consumed their bodyweight in Temazepam and Pernod." Apparently Paula Abdul's baseline mood is now an identified acting affliction!
2. Bolt - $26.596 million
Amazingly, 3-D animated family film Bolt saw a 1% increase in its second weekend in release. It's a rare gain Disney attributes to positive word of mouth, as audiences of all ages are responding to the story of a diminutive action-hero dog deluded into thinking he possesses special knowledge and abilities that place him above mortal dogs; he eventually learns a valuable lesson about humility after a series of severe career missteps—culminating in a starring role as a German Shepherd assassin assigned to hunt down history's most evil canine leader, Der Schnaüzer.
3. Twilight - $19.5 million
While it managed to crack $100 million, the Shoegazing, Neck-Sucking Tale of an Emo Generation saw its receipts tumble 62% since last week. As most hardcore Twilight fans have seen the movie several times already, new audiences were comprised mainly of confused Seniors thinking they were wandering into a promotional sales meeting for the apartment-style community services of Twilight Gables Assisted Living Center in Altamonte Springs, FL.
4. Quantum of Solace - $19.5 million
5. Australia - $14.815 million
Trying to focus on the marathon vs. the sprint, Fox senior VP of distribution Chris Aronson said, "Australia is a bold, unconventional film. It's haute cuisine, versus fast food." It's an apt metaphor, in that Australia offers the really expensive, overly precious 16-course tasting menu that takes four hours to get through, whereas Quantum just gives you the quick-and-dirty satisfaction of devouring a Daniel Craig corn dog in a couple of greasy bites.
10. Milk - $1.381 million
11. Slumdog Millionaire - $1.367 million
The eerily timely and heavily Oscar-buzzed underdogs were neck-and-neck, with Sean Penn's revelatory work in Milk just slightly edging out Danny Boyle's audience fave, which already lays credit to the quotable line of the 2008 awards season: "I'd like to use my phone-a-slum, Reeg."
- November 28–30, 2008 [Box Office Mojo]