Studios often don’t put a movie out the week after Thanksgiving, and if it wasn’t for a shuffle a couple weeks ago, we wouldn’t be getting a new movie at all. That’s because it’s usually considered a dead spot, or dumping ground for bad movies. To wit, last year saw no new wide releases, while in 2010 the only film opening wide was The Warrior’s Way. Remember that one? So this week it’s Killing Them Softly and nothing else wide. Well, it says The Collection is going Nationwide, but it’s hard to say how many locations that has.

If there’s one thing the studios believe in is dates. I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. When a film strikes gold on a certain date, then the studio thinks that’s a big money weekend and will try to get a similar film on that date. It doesn’t always work, but it’s true. Take for instance 2007′s 300, which really opened the doors on early March as a launching point. It made over $200 Million, and so what did Warner Brothers (who released 300) put out on the same weekend the next year? 10,000 B.C. which was sold in a very similar fashion. that weekend became lucky for 300 director Zack Snyder, whose Watchmen came out on the same date in 2009.  It also served as the launching point for Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, and why John Carter came out around the same time this year. It also explains why Oz: The Great and Powerful is jockeying that weekend for 2013.But now it appears to have gone from a Warner Brothers weekend to a Disney one.

Of course, weekends really mean nothing. For a while, the second weekend in May was considered an off release date. Films like Poseidon, Speed Racer, etc. would come the week after a huge release and get lost in the backdraft. Then came Star Trek in 2009, and it did exceptionally well. That doesn’t mean that the “luck” of the date changed – since we’ve gotten Robin Hood, Priest and Dark Shadows, but we also saw Bridesmaids do well on that date.But studios like having the same things happen in the same time frame, because – as long as it’s not a franchise (yet) the only thing they can try to do is recreate the same launching point.

To misquote Kingdom of Heaven: “What is a date worth?” “Nothing…. Everything.”

So this weekend:

  1. Skyfall - $17.7 Million
  2. Twilight 5 – $16.5 Million
  3. Rise of the Guardians – $13.7 Million
  4. Lincoln - $13.5 Million
  5. Killing Them Softly - $11 Million

I’m expecting that maybe Rise got some word of mouth, though it could go lower. And Skyfall should hold better than Twilight, so it should take the weekend. But it’s time for re-runs, and if you were afraid of crowds for the last couple weeks, now’s the time to play catch up.

What are you watching this weekend?