Box Office Briefs: Holiday Losers

Box Office Briefs: Holiday Losers

Dec 27, 2010

After several joyous, precious ... and, er, claustrophobic days hanging with the fam, didn’t it just sound like great idea on Christmas night to drive on over to the multiplex and watch Ben Stiller get hammered on by his abusive father-in-law?

Oh, no good?

How about we brave the snow and watch Jack Black is an average goof stuck in an extraordinary situation? (yeah, I know, dude really can do anything.)

If you’re like a lot of folks, you probably didn’t see Little Fockers and Gulliver’s Travels either, and that was a big reason why the domestic box office was off about 45 percent from the same weekend last year.

Of course, that particular Christmas weekend was driven by a little film called Avatar, so year-to-year comparisons prolly aren’t that fair.

But it is fair to say that this year’s holiday box office was a bit disappointing.

The third installment in Universal’s lucrative, decade-old Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers was predicted by its own studio to make around $60 million from its premiere on Wednesday through Sunday.

It fell way short of that, grossing $48.3 million -- which is plenty good enough for the $100 million film to make a profit and finish No. 1... and probably better than a film scoring 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes should do, anyway.

Black’s Gulliver’s Travels, meanwhile, never stood a chance, with the $115 million Fox film -- released in 2,546 theaters Saturday -- grossing just $7.2 million.

The better news at the box office came from Paramount’s Coen Bros.’ Western remake True Grit, finishing second with an impressive gross of $36.8 million over its first five days.

Paramount had expected to only make around $20 million.

Like Black, star Jeff Bridges -- playing the Wayne’s iconic U.S. Marshall Reuben “Ladies Call Me Rooster” Cogburn -- was reaching big time, playing a scruffy, sodden underachiever. (Hey, that’s what Best Actor winners do, right?)

But with Matt Damon channeling his frumpy Informant! persona, and preternaturally talented 13-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld eliciting “where’d-she-come-from?” talk, True Grit became Joel and Ethan Coen’s biggest opener ever, besting 2008’s Burn After Reading (which premiered to $19.1 million).

In third place in its second weekend of release, Disney’s Tron: Legacy grossed $20.1 million over the three-day holiday weekend ... about a 50 percent drop from its premiere, which is decent for a convoluted movie with an indecipherable plot (sorry, Tron fans). But it also puts the kibosh once and for all on talk that this 3D movie is going to be called “a hit.”

Besides True Grit, the happiest surprise at the domestic box office had to be Fox’s Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which emerged out of a three-week coma in theaters to gross an impressive $10.8 million from Friday to Sunday.

That’s a 4 percent week-to-week decline, which is almost unheard of in the movie business.

With foreign audiences vibing on the movie, Fox -- which, after Gulliver’s Travels, really doesn’t need any more time in the financial bathtub -- might actually come out of this thing in the black.

C.S. Lewis fans, however, can probably stick a fork in dreams of a fourth Narnia movie.

In any event, here’s how the movies did this weekend compared to how we thought they’d do:

Daniel’s Crystal Ball

Little Fockers Made: $34.0M We predicted: $40.0M
True Grit Made: $25.6M We predicted: $16.0M
Tron: Legacy Made: $20.1M We predicted: $20.0M
Narnia 3 Made: $10.8M We predicted: $8.0M
Yogi Bear Made: $8.8M We predicted: $10.0M
The Fighter Made: $8.5M We predicted: $7.0M
Gulliver’s Travels Made: $7.2M We predicted: $10.0M
Black Swan Made: $6.6M We predicted: $8.0M
Tangled Made: $6.5 We predicted: $7.0M
The Tourist Made: $5.7M We predicted: N/A

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