Article 1. Twilight’ Beats Newcomers at Box Office’
By BROOKS BARNES
Published: November 27, 2011
LOS ANGELES — A family film free-for-all over the holiday weekend ended with puppets doing cartwheels, elves wondering what went wrong and Martin Scorsese somewhere in between.
Hollywood’s five-day Thanksgiving sales period — considered crucial to generating momentum through Christmas — was not as bountiful as studio officials had hoped. Ticket sales totaled about $234 million, an 11 percent decline from the same stretch last year, according to Hollywood.com, which compiles ticketing data.
The No. 1 movie was a holdover: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” (Summit Entertainment) took in an estimated $62.3 million during the long weekend for a two-week total of $221.3 million.
Among new releases “The Muppets” (Walt Disney Studios) was the top performer, placing second over all with estimated ticket sales of $42 million. That was a big win for Kermit, Miss Piggy and their pals, who have languished in recent years; their last box-office outing was the 1999 flop “Muppets From Space.” Sweetening the victory was the film’s relatively inexpensive price; “The Muppets” cost about $45 million to make.
Directed by James Bobin, a big-screen newcomer, “The Muppets” generated positive reviews and received an A in audience exit polls. “Nostalgia helped, but existing fans can sometimes make your job more difficult,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice president for distribution. “You have to bring a great experience because people are comparing it to their memories.”
The dancing penguins of “Happy Feet Two” (Warner Brothers) were third, taking in about $18.4 million for a disappointing two-week total of nearly $44 million. Also delivering subpar results were the elves of “Arthur Christmas,” which cost Sony Pictures Entertainment about $100 million to make but placed fourth with about $17 million in ticket sales.
Sony compared its well-reviewed “Arthur Christmas” with two movies that were initially considered bombs — “The Polar Express” (2004) and “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” (2009) — but ended their domestic runs with less dismal totals. “As moviegoers start to shift into the end-of-the-year holiday mode, we know we will continue to play solidly,” Steve Elzer, a Sony spokesman, said by e-mail.
Mr. Scorsese’s 3-D “Hugo,” a Paramount Pictures and GK Films release based on the children’s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” took in about $15.4 million for fifth place. It also received outstanding reviews and managed to keep pace despite playing in only 1,277 theaters. (“Happy Feet Two,” by comparison, was booked into 3,611 locations.)
The problem: “Hugo” was enormously expensive to make, costing $150 million to $170 million. Paramount hopes that strong word of mouth will deliver solid results as “Hugo” reaches more theaters.
On the art-house front Oscar contenders like “The Descendants,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “A Dangerous Method” and “The Artist” all attracted solid audiences. “The Artist,” a $14 million black-and-white silent film from the Weinstein Company, stood out. Playing in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles starting Friday, it had a per-screen average of $52,604, one of the year’s best results for the specialty marketplace; total sales were $210,414.
Also noteworthy was the performance of “The Descendants,” which stars George Clooney as a father coping with problems of mortality and real estate. That Fox Searchlight movie, playing in limited release, took in $9.2 million for a two-week total of $10.7 million. Sheila DeLoach, Searchlight’s executive vice president for distribution, said the studio was “extremely encouraged” to see the film do well in suburban theaters .
Article 2. College Students Replace Poverty With Creativity
By JENNIFER CONLIN
Published: November 25, 2011
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“I did not want to ask my parents for more money,” said Ms. Malyshev, a sophomore at Northeastern in Boston, where yearly tuition runs $51,000 with room and board. A Craigslist posting for a hair model looked like an easy $250.
There was a catch. “To earn the $250, I had to let them do anything they wanted to my hair,” said Ms. Malyshev, who walked in with long, sleek blond tresses and emerged a few hours later a brunette with shaggy bangs and layers. “From now on, I plan to stick to psychological testing,” she said, referring to the roughly $20 an hour she often makes filling out university research questionnaires. (“Harvard pays the best in the Boston area,” she added.)
There is plenty of pain to go around in this economy. But college students, the generation facing the dual misery of unprecedented tuition levels and grim employment prospects after graduation, are feeling a special sting. As a result, penny-pinching and creative cash accumulation are becoming something like campus sports.
Mira Hager, a sophomore at Macalester College in St. Paul, carries an ample supply of cash from home so she can avoid the $3 withdrawal fees at local A.T.M.’s. She saved $300 by borrowing many of her textbooks from the library, rather than buying them. She also works a campus job nine hours a week as a building manager but has a better plan for next year. “I plan to work campus events, where you sometimes get free food,” she said.
Kasey Cox, a junior at the University of Michigan, brings a travel mug of coffee filled with her own home brew to the cafe she likes to study in and pretends she bought it there. She also frequently attends club meetings or seminars that provide refreshments, and she has an eagle eye for special offers. “On my birthday this year, I hit up five different places in town that give out free things or birthday deals,” she said.
Grigory Lukin, 25, the author of the 99-cent e-book “Going to College Without Going Broke,” recommends student clubs for more than the free food. When he was a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, he joined a community service club that held its annual meeting during spring break. “Our club had several sponsors, so we ended up paying just $20 each for a three-day weekend in a four-star hotel,” he said. “A lot of student clubs have these free, or almost free, trips, but they don’t like to advertise them for obvious reasons.”
According to Martin Dasko, 24, the founder of Studenomics, a Web site he started as a senior at Ryerson University in Toronto, there is no reason students should not be able to save money in college. “If students have time for Facebook and TV, they have time for a campus job,” he said. Mr. Dasko said his Web site gets between 1,000 and 2,000 hits a day, many of them from students asking about online jobs, like tutoring (for that, he recommends studentoffortune). “But I also get a lot of hits from students searching ‘free drinking’ and ‘how to date with no money,’ ” he said, laughing.
“Just get a job.”