Twilight was big. Four Christmases was bigger. But Richard Nixon was the one at the weekend box office.
Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon, the behind-the-scenes drama about TV host David Frost's showdown with the disgraced former president, put up blockbuster numbers in extremely limited release, per studio estimates released today.
Debuting at only three theaters, the Oscar contender grossed $180,147 for an eye-popping per-screen average of $60,049—1,000 percent-plus bigger than W.'s opening weekend average; 1,000 percent-plus bigger than the biggest film in this weekend's Top 10.
Per exit-polling data, Frost/Nixon's audience was surprisingly not entirely comprised of Enemies List alumni. Nearly one-third of its moviegoers were under 35, or most likely too young to recall Frost's 1977 Nixon interviews.
Overall, the popular vote went to Four Christmases and Twilight:
For the second weekend, Four Christmases finished atop the box office standings. The Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy grossed another $18.2 million, bringing its total to $70.8 million.
Twilight ($13.2 million) blew past Bolt ($9.7 million) for second place. With nearly $139 million now in the bank, Twilight blew past Van Helsing as the top-grossing vampire movie of the last 30 years, according to Box Office Mojo.
More box office stats and factoids:
- Considering the lousy week that preceeded it, Australia ($7 million) should be happy business fell only 53 percent from last weekend to this weekend.
- The $130 million Australia should not be happy that it's made only $35 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo.
- Unlike Australia, Role Models ($2.6 million) has made more than twice what it reportedly cost to make ($61.7 million versus $28 million).
- Quantum of Solace ($6.6 million) has joined the $150 million club.
- Remember how the new, improved The Incredible Hulk ended up making about as much money as the old, maligned Hulk? Those were the good old days for franchise reboots. Lionsgate's Punisher redo, Punisher: War Zone ($4 million), didn't even make 30 percent of what The Punisher did during its opening weekend in 2004.
- Cadillac Records, the all-star musical biopic starring Beyoncé Knowles and Adrien Brody, was solid: $3.5 million from 686 theaters.
- In limited release, Milk ($1.7 million from 99 theaters) and Slumdog Millionaire ($1.4 million from 78 theaters) loomed large, just not Frost/Nixon large.
Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
- Four Christmases, $18.2 million
- Twilight, $13.2 million
- Bolt, $9.7 million
- Australia, $7 million
- Quantum of Solace, $6.6 milliion
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, $5.1 million
- Transporter 3, $4.5 million
- Punisher: War Zone, $4 million
- Cadillac Records, $3.5 million
- Role Models, $2.6 million
(Originally published Dec. 7, 2008 at 12:50 p.m. PT.)