Weekend Box Office (December 31, 2010 - January 2, 2011)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers rang in the new year by flocking to the same films as last weekend with the star-driven comedy Little Fockers leading the way once again and the Western hit True Grit following closely in second place. Most films enjoyed sales increases over the previous frame which was hampered by Christmas Eve falling on Friday and a blizzard slamming the east coast on Sunday. The top ten jumped 11% versus last weekend, but fell a sharp 33% from a year ago.

Universal was on top once again with the Robert De Niro-Ben Stiller comedy sequel Little Fockers which laughed up $25.8M in its second session, according to final studio figures, sending the total over the century mark to $102.6M in only 12 days. The decline was 16% which represented the largest fall of any film in wide release. Not surprisingly, the drop was slightly more than the 10% dip that Meet the Fockers witnessed on the same frame six years ago when the calendar was identical. The new Fockers is currently running 37% behind its predecessor. Little could end its run in the $160-170M range.

Holding steady in second place was the Western remake True Grit which grossed $24.4M lifting its 12-day total to a stellar $86.7M quickly becoming the top-grossing film ever for the Coen brothers. Their previous career high was $74.3M for the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men and they hardly ever break $50M with any film. Produced for only $38M, the Jeff Bridges-Matt Damon period film was almost even with Christmas weekend and eased by a scant 2%. Grit could remain strong even after the holidays and find its way past the $150M mark for Paramount making it one of the most profitable titles of the holiday season.

TRON: Legacy followed in third with $18.8M, off 2%, boosting the 17-day cume to $131.3M. Budgeted at $150M, the Disney effects extravaganza looks on course to end its run with $160-170M from North America putting it just outside of the top ten list of 2010 blockbusters. It has done exceptionally well in IMAX venues which have accounted for roughly 25% of the total gross despite the limited number of screens. Overseas, the action pic has hauled in $110M for a global tally of $241M so far.

More PG-rated films in 3D followed. Yogi Bear enjoyed a sturdy 58% jump to $12.4M for fourth place posting healthy numbers after a sluggish start two weeks ago. With $65.8M to date, the Warner Bros. pic will try to end its run around the $90M mark. Fox's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader rose 8% to $10.3M for a total of $86.9M thus far. Look for a final tally in the $100-110M range with more than double that amount from overseas markets. Domestic grosses for the first two Narnia films were $291.7M for 2005's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and $141.6M for 2008's Prince Caspian.

Following closely were Paramount's acclaimed boxing drama The Fighter with $10M and Disney's animated hit Tangled with $9.8M. The Rapunzel toon shot up 53% and has banked an impressive $167.8M to date on its way to about $190M. It currently ranks as Disney's top-grossing non-Pixar toon since 1999's Tarzan which did $171.1M. The Mark Wahlberg film The Fighter enjoyed a 32% increase this weekend and has taken in a solid $46.4M. Look for at least $70M with the cume going much higher if it scores big at the Golden Globes or with Oscar nods.

Fox has struggled with its Jack Black offering Gulliver's Travels which has been shoved to the side by a long list of competitors. This weekend it grossed $9.3M in its first Friday-to-Sunday frame after bowing last Saturday on Christmas Day for a nine-day cume of only $27.5M. A disappointing $40-45M final may result. Making more than that already, awards entry Black Swan from the studio's specialty division Fox Searchlight collected $8.9M this weekend, up 42%, for a $47.8M take so far. Like Fighter, the road ahead could be a long one depending on how events during awards season broaden appeal. But a minimum of $70M seems likely.

Rounding out the top ten was a newer contender in the awards race, The King's Speech, which grossed $7.8M in its first full weekend of nationwide play. Averaging a healthy $11,108 per theater from 700 locations, The Weinstein Co. release has taken in $22.9M so far and is hoping for some Golden Globes love to help it generate more excitement in the weeks ahead as it expands into even more markets.

Below the top ten, Sony's disappointing duo of duds The Tourist and How Do You Know grossed $6.8M and $4.6M, respectively. The pricey star vehicles have grossed $54.8M and $25.1M thus far. The holiday season's top hit Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 brought in $4.7M in its seventh frame boosting the cume to $283.5M putting it at number 46 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters between Home Alone and The Matrix Reloaded. The new Potter broke the $600M mark overseas climbing to $617.8M giving Warner Bros. $901.3M worldwide. Part 2 opens in just over six months on July 15.

Opening with encouraging results in platform release was the Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams indie drama Blue Valentine with $193,728 from four sites for a strong $48,432 average. Originally rated NC-17 but overturned on appeal, The Weinstein Co. release has collected $291,607 since its Wednesday bow and will expand slowly to more cities. Reviews were excellent.

The top ten films grossed $137.3M which was down a sharp 33% from last year when Avatar stayed in the top spot with $68.5M; but up 12% from 2009 when Marley & Me remained at number one with $24.3M.

Compared to projections, Little Fockers came in above my $23M forecast while True Grit was close to my $26M prediction.

Check the UPDATED box office charts for the Top 2010 Blockbusters and Golden Globe nominee grosses.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a review of True Grit visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Season of the Witch opens.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Dec 31 - Jan 2 Dec 24 - 26 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Little Fockers $ 25,766,485 $ 30,833,665 -16.4 3,554 2 $ 7,250 $ 102,576,190 Universal
2 True Grit 24,416,515 24,830,443 -1.7 3,083 2 7,920 86,670,382 Paramount
3 TRON: Legacy 18,756,973 19,151,498 -2.1 3,365 3 5,574 131,304,844 Buena Vista
4 Yogi Bear 12,385,000 7,897,342 56.8 3,515 3 3,523 65,755,336 Warner Bros.
5 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage... 10,252,775 9,478,043 8.2 2,948 4 3,478 86,926,397 Fox
6 The Fighter 10,005,066 7,580,116 32.0 2,534 4 3,948 46,388,853 Paramount
7 Tangled 9,803,091 6,427,816 52.5 2,582 6 3,797 167,821,986 Buena Vista
8 Gulliver's Travels 9,300,099 6,307,691 47.4 3,089 2 3,011 27,454,506 Fox
9 Black Swan 8,881,595 6,254,986 42.0 1,553 5 5,719 47,807,791 Fox Searchlight
10 The King's Speech 7,775,463 4,484,352 73.4 700 6 11,108 22,932,401 Weinstein Co.
11 The Tourist 6,625,759 5,371,896 23.3 2,756 4 2,404 54,633,191 Sony
12 Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Part 1 4,651,699 3,176,348 46.4 1,732 7 2,686 283,533,215 Warner Bros.
13 How Do You Know 4,547,420 3,548,965 28.1 2,483 3 1,831 25,040,894 Sony
14 Megamind 630,940 356,859 76.8 764 9 826 144,192,018 Paramount
15 Unstoppable 524,921 329,895 59.1 450 8 1,166 79,468,486 Fox
16 The Social Network 464,543 281,088 65.3 249 14 1,866 93,222,026 Sony
17 Burlesque 444,238 338,101 31.4 330 6 1,346 37,733,561 Sony
18 Due Date 424,119 378,227 12.1 404 9 1,050 99,231,922 Warner Bros.
19 Red 289,720 197,833 46.4 303 12 956 89,505,187 Summit
20 127 Hours 284,373 190,258 49.5 103 9 2,761 10,434,435 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 91,577,748 $ 92,190,991 -0.7
Top 10 137,343,062 124,133,496 10.6
Top 20 156,230,794 137,764,957 13.4
Top 20 vs. New Year's 2010 156,230,794 215,628,854 -27.5

2-day grosses in italics

Last Updated: January 3, 2011 at 5:30PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.