Capitalizing on the old adage that nature abhors a vacuum, Disney’s animated pic, “The Princess and the Frog” filled a void created by a dearth of new kid movies, and took the top spot in weekend box office sales in the United States and Canada, with a $25 million take.
It displaced feel-good football film “The Blind Side,” which overpowered “Twilight” sequel “New Moon” last weekend to take the No. 1 spot. “New Moon” slipped two slots this week to No. 4 with $8 million in ticket sales for a cumulative total of $267.4 million.
Disney’s “The Princess And The Frog” adds a Shrek-like twist to the age old fairy tale in which a princess kisses a frog that turns into a prince. Instead this kiss turns the princess into a frog, and she learns the joys of life in a small pond.
The film is also benefiting from uniformly positive reviews, including being named picture of the year by Time magazine. (Go Figure) Actually, Time’s accolade could be because, the film marks Disney’s return to hand-drawn 2-D animation, which earlier generations fondly recall through films like “Bambi” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
The film opened in 3,434 theaters after an exclusive two-week run as part of a special “Disney Experience.” It sold-out grossing $3.6 million.
“It’s one of those classic Disney fairy tales and people just fell in love with it,” said Chuck Viane head of domestic distribution at Walt Disney Co’s Buena Vista unit.
Going forward it will be facing competition from Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” opening Christmas Day. Princess will roll out overseas over Christmas.
The second place Sandra Bullock led football film grossed $15.5 million in its third week in theaters, and No. 3 movie, Clint Eastwood’s Nelson Mandela drama “Invictus,” debuted this week with a $9.1 million gross.
The film has suffered from poor marketing and an obscure subject (at least in the U.S.), the 1995 World Cup rugby championship. But it’s getting positive word-of-mouth and it is an inspiring story with Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon in a starring role.
“This film has Oscar potential written all over it and should maintain solid grosses week after week,” Paul Dergarabedian, head of Hollywood.com’s box office tracking division, said in a statement.
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” came in at No. 5, down one spot with $6.9 million. It has grossed $124.5 million, so far with the Christmas holiday still to come, which boost the Jim Carrey vehicle’s fortunes.
Paramount’s “The Lovely Bones,” which opened in a limited run to strong reviews, could build an audience. It was released in three theaters and saw per theater sales of $38,667, which topped similar limited openings by “Slum Dog Millionaire,” and another Clint Eastwood flick “Gran Torino,” according to deadlinehollywooddaily.
A number of films are making limited runs in a handful of theaters to put them in contention for Oscars. The Weinstein Company’s “A Single Man,” starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore opened in nine theaters and Paramount’s George Clooney vehicle “Up In The Air” hit about 72 screens.