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Box office preview: 'Breaking Dawn' headed for Thanksgiving win

By Grady Smith, EW
updated 4:24 PM EST, Thu November 22, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Breaking Dawn --Part 2" is poised to have a successful second weekend
  • "Rise of the Guardians," "Life of Pi," and "Red Dawn" are also competing
  • It will be a five-day weekend because of the holiday

(EW.com) -- "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Not only did the vampire franchise's finale earn a terrific $141.1 million in its opening weekend, but it's headed to an easy second weekend win at the box office — despite the arrival of three big-budget newcomers: "Rise of the Guardians," "Life of Pi," and "Red Dawn."

Here's how the lucrative five-day weekend (new releases hit theaters on Wednesday, not Friday, this week) might play out:

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 -- $64 million

Former Twilight installments New Moon and Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 each opened on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and they fell by 54 and 55 percent respectively over the five-day frames that followed. (A consistent franchise, this one.) Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 will likely fall by a similar amount down to $64 million, which will bring the Summit blockbuster's total to just shy of $225 million after ten days.

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2. Rise of the Guardians -- $44 million

The $145 million DreamWorks animation looked like a blockbuster hit a few months ago, but buzz for the film has lagged in recent weeks — perhaps due to the success of the brighter, poppier Wreck-It Ralph. Distributor Paramount, which is releasing its final DreamWorks Animation title before the toon house's distribution deal with Fox kicks in next year, expects the film to earn about $35 million in its first five days, but that seems overly cautious, especially for a holiday-themed adventure during a holiday frame. The Muppets managed a $41.5 million bow in its first five days in 2011, while Tangled took in $68.7 million over the same period in 2010. Rise of the Guardians should be able to manage a debut somewhere in between, with about $44 million over the Wednesday-to-Sunday period.

3. Skyfall -- $42 million

It's unclear whether James Bond will be able to overtake Rise of the Guardians for second place. What is clear is that the well-liked action tentpole will hold up very well in its third weekend. Over the course of five days, it should take in just slightly more than the $41.1 million it earned over last weekend, and a likely $42 million gross would give the Sony/MGM release an astounding $210 million running total.

4. Lincoln -- $23 million

As if remarkable word-of-mouth wasn't enough to carry Lincoln to profitability, Disney is expanding the historical drama from 1,775 locations into 2,018 theaters, which should offset any tiny decline it may have faced. Honest Abe may carry away $23 million over five days, climbing right past the $50 million mark in the process.

5. Life of Pi -- $21 million

The fact that Fox's dreamy Ang Lee-directed drama is based on a popular novel of the same name will certainly lure in crowds, yet its arthouse sensibilities may keep just as many away. Life of Pi seems like it may be the Hugo of 2012. It's an expensive 3-D film (Fox spent about $120 million to make it) with huge family potential that's earning great reviews, yet it may not be able to muscle its way toward the top of a marketplace stuffed with more broadly appealing fare. Older moviegoers will respond to strong reviews and early awards buzz, but Pi will need to rely on great word-of-mouth to truly succeed. The nautical tiger tale may roar to $21 million in its first five days.

6. Wreck-It Ralph -- $21 million

Disney's hit videogame-themed animation has already crossed the $125 million mark, and another weekend of strong play with families (it shouldn't be hurt too much by competition from Rise of the Guardians, as there's room for more than one family flick to shine over the Thanksgiving frame) may give it an additional $21 million and a $145 million total.

7. Red Dawn -- $16 million

Originally shot in 2009 for about $70 million, MGM's remake of the 1984 hit has been stuck on the shelf for over two years as a result of the studio's financial woes, which sent MGM into bankruptcy in 2010. After an edit that digitally altered the film's Chinese villains into North Korean soldiers, though, Red Dawn finally found distribution via an acquisition by FilmDistrict. Because FilmDistrict has not disclosed details of the deal, it's tough to say what the measure of success for the film is — but if we're measuring simply by tickets-sold, it won't be especially impressive. Chris Hemsworth (i.e. Thor) and Josh Hutcherson (i.e. Peeta) bring a definite star wattage to the film, but not enough to remove Red Dawn from the shadow of that other action movie... Skyfall. The film may shoot up about $16 million in its first five days.

Yep, a top seven this week! (I was trying to squeeze in "Red Dawn.") What are your predictions? Check back to EW on Saturday and Sunday for updates on how all these films are faring, and follow me on Twitter for additional box office musing throughout the week.

See original story at EW.com.

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