Little Fockers Wins Slow New Year’s Box Office

With only the mediocre selection of leftovers to choose from, moviegoers across North America found other ways to send off 2010 and ring in 2011 then go to the movies. The top ten at the North American box office dropped 32% from last year’s totals when the top attraction was Avatar with a $68 million weekend gross. Universal’s comedy Little Fockers remained in the top spot this year while Paramount’s True Grit solidified itself as the sleeper hit of the holiday season in second place.

Despite bad reviews and less-than-kind word-of-mouth from ticket buyers, Fockers laughed up an estimated $26.3 million from 3,554 screens to bring its 12-day total to $103.1 million. This marks only the second film released by Universal Studios to cross the $100 million mark in 2010 (the other being last summer’s Despicable Me). Off a moderate 14% from opening weekend, Fockers is still trailing its predecessor over the same time span by approximately 30%. Watch for those Fockers to finish their run between $130-140 million.

Paramount had a happy new year with the number two film in the country, the Coen Brothers update of True Grit. Audiences seem to be enjoying the film as much as critics did as it dropped by a mere 1.4% on 3,085 screens with another $24.5 million. The film’s total now stands at a big $86.8 million after ten days. Produced for a scant $35 million, Grit flew by 2007’s No Country For Old Men’s $74 million haul to become the sibling filmmaker’s highest domestic grosser to date. With Oscar nominations a sure bet for Rooster and his pals, the film should have no trouble galloping its way to at least $140-150 million in North America alone. It has yet to open overseas.

Four 3D family features occupied spots three through six this weekend. Disney’s Tron: Legacy held its ground in third with an estimated $18.3 million from 3,365 screens. Off only 4% from last weekend, the sci-fi sequel had to contend with diminished returns on Friday for a second week as family-oriented films took a hit due to New Year’s Eve. To date, the futuristic 3D action hit has taken in $130 million and could finish its North America run around the $175 million mark.

In fourth place was Warner’s Yogi Bear with $13 million for the weekend and a new three-week cume of $66 million. Yogi surged 65.9% this weekend over the previous week which should allow Yogi and Booboo to head into cinematic hibernation with approximately $85-90 million. Not too bad given the film’s soft opening a few weekends ago.

In fifth place was Fox’s The Chronicles of Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, up 11% from last weekend with an estimated $10.5 million that brings its three-week total to the $87 million mark. While the film continues to trail the previous entry, 2008’s Prince Caspian, the Fox/Walden Media production has been performing very well overseas with $186 million foreign gross thus far. Given the movie’s durability over the holiday period, the movie should cross the $100 million mark before it sails onto home video this spring.

Coming back strong to place sixth for the weekend was Disney’s long-running hit Tangled which unfurled for an estimated $10 million from 2.582 screens. Like Yogi Bear, Rapunzel and company surged from last weekend (up 55%) to bring its six-week total to $168 million. Thanks to a second wind backed by a new television ad campaign, Tangled could hit the $200 million mark by the end of its run.

The acclaimed boxing drama The Fighter tied with Tangled for sixth place with an estimated $10 million from 2,531 screens. Up 32% from Christmas weekend, the $25 million R-rated release from Paramount hasn’t been a breakout blockbuster the way True Grit has been, but it business has still been consistently rock solid thanks to word-of-mouth. After four weeks, the David O. Russell-directed film has amassed a healthy $46.3 million so far and could nearly double that should it clean up at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards ceremonies.

The latest Jack Black comedy, Gulliver’s Travels, discovered an estimated $9.1 million in its second weekend to land in eighth place. To date the critically-lambasted film has taken in a weak $28 million. The comedy should finish its run between $45-50 million, well below what distributor Fox had in mind.

Better news was found for the struggling studio via its Fox Searchlight division with the weekend earnings for its hit Black Swan. Up 35%, the Natalie Portman starrer danced up an estimated $8.5 million from 1,553 screens to bring its total to the $47.4 million mark. Depending on how the Oscars pan out for the Darren Aronofsky film, Swan could sail to the $80-90 million mark.

Rounding out the top ten while only playing on 700 theaters, the Weinstein Company’s The King’s Speech spoke loud and clear to the tune of a robust $7.6 million and a new to-date gross of $22.8 million. Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter, the true-life drama of England’s Prince George VI and his struggle to overcome his speech impediment will continue to roll out over the next few weeks and could double – if not more – its North America gross thanks to awards.

Next weekend the 2011 movie season begins with Season of the Witch starring Nicolas Cage and the Gwyneth Paltrow country music drama Country Strong vying to oust Little Fockers from the top spot.

Happy New Year, everyone!

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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