Tron: Legacy Downloads Box Office First Place Finish

With most of North America getting ready for the Christmas holiday next weekend, the box office took a bit of a siesta this weekend as only Walt Disney’s Tron: Legacy made any sort of sizable impact. Warner’s kiddie comedy Yogi Bear had a mild debut while Sony’s How Do You Know did know much about attracting business.

Despite an aggressive marketing campaign that has lasted for nearly a year and mirrored the one used by Fox for last year’s Christmas event picture Avatar, the debut of Disney’s Tron: Legacy was always going to be a bit of a giant question mark. After all, the original came out 28 years ago and a majority of the new film’s target audience has never seen the original (Disney did no favors by pulling it off the market last year). Having the movie in 3D and in IMAX 3D would certainly help boost the grosses, but no one was sure as to by how much. While no one was expecting Tron to match Avatar ($77 million a year ago this weekend), hopes were high that this film would at least clear the $50 million mark in its first three days.

The $170 million production didn’t break through that financial mark, but nonetheless it did deliver an impressive $43.6 million from 3,451 screens. Friday’s gross was $18 million which included $3.6 million from 12:01 am screenings. Saturday’s gross was an estimated $14.5 million and Sunday’s take is being estimated at $11.1 million. The PG-rated film stars Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde got mixed reviews from the nation’s critics (48% on Rotten Tomatoes) but did receive an encouraging “A-” from Cinemascore. The latter may indicate that the film should have a healthy holiday run in the weeks ahead.

Debuting on 3,515 screens to middling results in second place was Warner’s live action 3D comedy Yogi Bear with $16.7 million. The studio, hoping for the next Alvin and the Chipmunks, was forecasting the film to open in the $20 million range. But with toxic reviews from critics (13% on Rotten Tomatoes), pricey 3D tickets and far too many other family-friendly choices playing, parents apparently opted to take their kids someplace else this weekend aside from Jellystone Park. Family films, no matter how good or bad they are, always do business during the Christmas break. Watch for Yogi and Booboo to rebound from their soft opening over the next few weeks.

Dropping by half from its disappointing opening last weekend to land in third place was Fox’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Off 49%, the film took in $12.4 million from 3,555 screens for a ten-day take of approximately $43 million. While the film’s domestic gross may be a letdown, the foreign market is anything but: the first weekend’s take for the film overseas was a huge $83 million. Watch for Aslan and pals to finish their North America run between $75-80 million.

In fourth place after a one-week limited engagement was Paramount’s critically acclaimed drama The Fighter, knocking out $12.3 million off 2,503 screens. Awards and, more importantly, positive word-of-mouth from ticket buyers should give the Mark Wahlberg/Christian Bale starrer a healthy run right through the holidays and well into the New Year.

It appears that the combined star power of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp couldn’t keep Sony’s international thriller The Tourist from sinking in its second weekend. Visited by 50% less people this weekend, the film grossed $8.7 million from 2,756 screens to bring its ten-day total to $30.7 million. With a holiday boost, the film may finish with $50 million domestically.

Sony’s holiday headaches didn’t end there. Landing with a massive thud in eighth place was Sony’s $100 million ensemble romantic comedy How Do You Know. The James L. Brooks film was dismissed by both critics (46% Rotten Tomatoes rating) and audiences who couldn’t be pulled in despite the presence of Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. Brooks’ last directorial effort was the 2004 Adam Sandler dud Spanglish (someone really needs to help him with his movie titles).

Sixth place for the weekend went to Disney’s animated hit Tangled which brought in $8.6 million to bring its total to the $128 million mark. The holidays should give the comedy a second wind that could help bring its domestic total into the $170-175 million range. Expanding to 959 screens in its third weekend was Fox Searchlight’s critically acclaimed thriller Black Swan which grossed a solid $8.3 million to bring its total to $15.7 million. The film will continue to slowly expand over the next few weeks.

Warner’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 landed in ninth place with $4.845 million and a new to-date domestic total of $265 million. The film cracked the Top 50 chart of all-time grossing films this weekend, surpassing 2002’s Chamber of Secrets in the process. Rounding out the top ten was Fox’s Unstoppable which added $1.8 million to its $78 million total.

Next Wednesday Fox will debut the Jack Black comedy Gulliver’s Travels, Paramount will open the Coen Brothers’ remake of the John Wayne classic True Grit and Universal will enter the fray with the comedy sequel Little Fockers starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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