The Grinch has stolen something else – and no, it’s not the Presidential election. ”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” seized the No. 1 spot at the box office during a record breaking Thanksgiving weekend, finishing ahead of two highly touted Disney releases, ”Unbreakable” and ”102 Dalmatians.” According to studio estimates, the Jim Carrey flick grossed $73.8 million for the five days beginning Wednesday, Nov. 22, bringing its 10 day total to $137.4 million. Brian Grazer, who produced ”Grinch” with director Ron Howard, said he expected ”Unbreakable” to edge his movie out of the top spot. ”I’m just shocked out of my mind,” Grazer told Reuters. ”Every demographic just seems to love the movie and continue to show up and tell their friends to go see it.”
Box office revenues hit an all time high for the Thanksgiving weekend, with the top 12 movies earning $236.3 million, surpassing the previous record of $225.5 million set last year. ”This was the weekend of all weekends for family films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations. ”It proves how strong the family contingent is in terms of box office clout.” Disney, which ruled last year’s Thanksgiving with ”Toy Story 2,” took the the No. 2 and No. 3 spots with ”Unbreakable” (the reteaming of ”The Sixth Sense” writer - director M. Night Shyamalan and star Bruce Willis earned $47.2 million) and ”102 Dalmatians” ($26.8 million). The animated ”Rugrats in Paris: The Movie” (No. 4) scored $22.8 million in its second week of release, while ”Charlie’s Angels” added another $14 million to land the No. 5 position.
CRITICAL MASS Though ”Unbreakable” was the only nonkid movie to open nationwide this weekend, it touched on a juvenile theme: comic book fantasies and their effect on adult lives. Reviews for the movie were generally favorable (critics gave it an average grade of B), though many found fault with the movie’s ending even as they praised Shyamalan’s script and skillful storytelling. EW.com’s readers must have been avoiding critics’ hints about a ”Sixth Sense” style twist: Only 3 percent bought their tickets because of ”Unbreakable”’s reviews, while 47 percent turned out to see what the ”Sixth Sense” auteur would come up with next. Most readers liked what they saw: 56 percent said they’d definitely recommend it to a friend and gave the movie an overall grade was of B+.
Disney’s other release, ”102 Dalmatians,” didn’t get such a welcome reception: Most national critics barked their disapproval at this sequel to a remake of an animated movie, and howled (not with laughter) at the performances of stars Glenn Close and Gérard Depardieu. EW.com’s readers felt the same: They gave the movie a D+. Sounds like a real dog to us.