Last weekend Breaking Dawn made a ton of cash, which was a surprise to no one. But not everyone who wants to see the latest blockbuster sequel goes opening weekend, and so though the fall off should be heavy (over 50%, possibly over 60%, and just as likely near 70%) it may be able to fend off the newcomers, which will probably hurt each other and let Twilight win. What must have happened is that no one blinked about this weekend, as there’s three films aimed at parents and children hitting theaters: The Muppets, Arthur Christmas and Hugo. On top of a week-old Happy Feet Two. It’s a Children’s film blood bath is what it is.

As for Breaking Dawn, it’s going to be over $200 Million by end of weekend. I’m impressed and slightly baffled by people who wait to see these films, as it strikes me that with any major franchise seeing it right away is the point. Perhaps in the later weeks it’s the hardcore fans seeing it again (or for the last time on the big screen), but I don’t know if the young women raised on this series have that same pull toward going to the theater repeatedly that infected the generation that made Titanic the biggest film of all time (until Avatar). I don’t know how many people of a younger generation can have that same thrill – partly because the movie’s out on home video months later. Because until home video became a driving force, hit films would be in theaters for a year (at least), and the home video presentation was not very good. Though there are always stories about the hard core faithful going to see a film they love four or five times over a weekend, I don’t know if the people who loved Titanic would have gone back as much in the DVD era. Film itself may be slipping away, and if it is, you should sign this petition if you want to show some support.

Why the heck didn’t anyone blink this weekend? This end of year got crowded with stupid. I can see why The Muppets didn’t blink – it’s a family film, and they obviously have the best case to be made for being a hit. Parents who grew up on the show and movies may not so reluctantly take their kids. Of the new films it should open the best, though Disney paid through the nose with marketing on this one. The dirty secret is that an “A” Picture can spend upwards of $100 Million and over to market a picture, and even though the production budget on the film is listed at $50 Million or less, it may have made sense to spend that ad money because it’s not just the movies they’re selling with the advertising, but also the Muppets themselves, which have toys and DVDs and games and books. so even if the film does $120 Million in total, if they’ve relaunched the brand, it’s possible that the sales of the ephemera will amount to much much more than the ticket sales.

I get why Arthur Christmas didn’t blink. They’re basically following The Polar Express blueprint of having a month before Christmas to play slow and steady. Realistically it should have come out a couple weeks earlier against Jack and Jill and The Immortals, but Jack is also a Sony picture, so it gets complicated. And you can’t wait any longer as the picture is dead the minute Christmas is over, so you want to have a month to find an audience. The question is if it will pick up enough interest and business to keep playing. Sony didn’t seem to work too hard on this one, and it’s possible they won’t give it the support to keep playing. But it’s also possible that if they get to about $20 Million for the five day, they could – could – do over $100 Million domestic.

I didn’t get why Hugo didn’t blink, unless you look at Paramount’s schedule. They’ve had three movies back-to-back-to-back in October (Footloose, Paranormal Activity 3 and Puss in Boots) then they have Young Adult, Tintin and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol in December. Paramount is not a studio that usually puts out that many films in a short period of time (often they’ll have a twelve picture year), and they have done well to not step on their own tail too much. Hugo is not only a hard sell, it looks like a co-production where Paramount only has the domestic rights. It’s a similar situation to Tintin, but with the Nickelodeon support that’s a much easier sell than a master director doing a kids movie. I’m not saying that Hugo‘s being put out this weekend to die, but if the cat is in the bag, the bag is in the why not chase holiday weekend business and hope good reviews let it float just long enough to be replaced by Tintin or Ghost Protocol?

If you removed one of these pieces. it’s possible that The Muppets would do more business than Breaking Dawn when families want to see a movie to get the heck out of the house. With all three it might be close, but Twilight‘s got the edge.

So let’s do a little three-day predicting:

  1. Breaking Dawn - $40.1 Million
  2. The Muppets - $33 Million
  3. Happy Feet Two - $14.4 Million
  4. Arthur Christmas - $12.7 Million
  5. Hugo – $7.5 Million

All three new pictures this weekend are great, by the way. But since they’re all kid-centric, it’s possible that these numbers could be dreadfully wrong. We could see Muppet support or family boredom frustration bring the numbers up on any of the new pictures. Hard to say. It’s a long holiday weekend.