Christmas Day didn’t add much cheer to this year’s box office: holiday receipts were down approximately 44% over 2009. Little Fockers stayed on top for the three-day weekend, earning an estimated $34 million from 3,536 locations and a five-day cume of $48.3 million. Fox’s Gulliver’s Travels opened Saturday, meaning it had one less day to work with when it came to tallying up weekend earnings. The Jack Black adventure inspired only $3.5 million in its debut, giving it a two-day estimate of $7.2 million.
Fox said it was going with a Saturday release for Gulliver’s to put some distance between it and other family titles like Fockers, but honestly: taking a film out of play for three prime movie-going days never augers well for that film’s future. In fact, Fox was the last studio who attempted the move with Fat Albert, launching it on Christmas Day (Saturday) in 2004. The fact that the big man opened to $10 million over those two days – not adjusted for inflation and NOT including any 3D price premiums – is a testament to just how puny Gulliver is currently looking. Even Year One, Jack Black’s last ill-fated experiment in live-action, opened to almost $15 million over its initial two days – though those were a Friday and a Saturday in June. And to think. For this Emily Blunt had to drop out of Iron Man 2.
A more direct parallel with Christmas 2004 may be drawn with this weekend’s number one film, Little Fockers. The second film in the Focker trilogy – Meet the Fockers – was released on the same Wednesday before Christmas six years ago, earning $70.5 million in its first five days. That film was no critical darling but, considering the new Fockers is struggling to keep its Rotten Tomato score above 10%, I’m going to say that Universal pulled off a coup by keeping Fockers 3 at number one through the holiday: even if its estimated take is not as impressive as its predecessor’s.
True Grit managed to move past Tron Legacy on Friday to claim the number two spot – not surprising on Christmas Eve when all little kiddies are supposed to be nestled snug in their beds. The Coen Brother’s adult Western held on to that number two spot throughout the Christmas weekend, putting it on track to become the most successful Western since… the first True Grit? After five days True Grit 2010 has earned an estimated $36.8 million from its 3,047 locations – taste your irrelevance, Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Tron Legacy placed third in its second weekend in theatres, a drop of 54%. The Disney pic has a new domestic estimate of $88.3 million after 10 days, meaning it will definitely make it past $100 million by year’s end. Those big overseas audiences that greeted the film’s release last weekend thinned out a bit in the wake of Europe’s recent blizzards. Disney will just have to hope that those audiences return in time to usher their new Tron into the black.
Finally, please note that you do not note the presence of How Do You Know in this week’s top ten. That was an even faster exit than I imagined after last week’s debut. Next weekend will bring more of the same, with this relatively weak crop of holiday releases struggling to wrap up this relatively weak year at the box office. And to think, one year ago it all looked so promising…