Seeming to come out of nowhere, Warner Bros.' The Blind Side blindsided box office analysts by strongly challenging The Twilight Saga New Moon over the Thanksgiving weekend holiday by earning an estimated $40.1 million, just $2.4 million less than New Moon , which had been expected to win the weekend by a country mile. The Blind Side had barely produced a blip on the buzz radar and it received only so-so reviews from critics. But moviegoers, who gave it an A+ rating to Cinemascore interviewers after seeing it, quickly spread the word, and The Blind Side , which played in only 80 percent as many theaters as New Moon, earned an average of $12,779 per theater to the vampire flick's $10,515. Indeed, on a per theater basis, Precious, which was screened in just 663 theaters, earned slightly more than New Moon, which sank 70 percent in its second weekend. Some analysts suggested that the primary reason for the fall-off was the Thanksgiving weekend itself, with several of them suggesting that ticket sales over the holiday are strongly influenced by family considerations -- and that The Blind Side , an uplifting sports drama whose ticket sales actually climbed 17 percent, was a far more family-friendly movie than New Moon, which has largely attracted teen girls smitten by heartthrob Robert Pattinson. (The Los Angeles Times suspected that Pattinson's fans may have been upset by their idol's recent remark to the London Daily Telegraph that the Twilight movies are "a big metaphor for sexual abstinence, and yet it's erotic underneath." Indeed, commented the Times, "the movie's erotic underpinnings, with no celebration-inducing "touchdowns," might've been no match for the scoring power of football." Meanwhile, Disney's Old Dogs, starring John Travolta and Robin Williams, which received overwhelmingly negative reviews, had an okay opening, with $16.8 million, while Disney's A Christmas Carol also attracted families as it rose an extraordinary 30 percent from last weekend to take in $16 million. Ninja Assassin debuted with $13.1 million. Overall, the box office was up 13 percent over last year as the top 12 films earned about $175 million, versus $154.7 million for the comparable weekend a year ago.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Twilight New Moon , $42.5 million; 2. The Blind Side, $40.1 million; 3. 2012 $18.0 million; 4. Old Dogs, $16.8 million; 5. A Christmas Carol, $16.0 million; 6. Ninja Assassin, $13.1 million; 7. Planet 51, $10.2 million; 8. Precious, $7.1 million; 9. Fantastic Mr. Fox, $7.0 million; 10. The Men Who Stare at Goats, $1.53 million.