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Weekend Report: No Party for 'New Year's Eve'

by Ray Subers
New Year's Eve
 

 
December 11, 2011

While it did finish in first place, New Year's Eve dropped the ball this weekend with a disappointing $13.02 million opening. Things were comparatively better for The Sitter, though Jonah Hill didn't impress in his solo debut. Adding these two movies to an already weak field turned out to be box office poison—overall grosses were at around $75 million, which is the worst weekend tally since Bangkok Dangerous opened on top of the chart with $7.8 million on the first weekend of September 2008.

New Year's Eve's $13.02 million was off 77 percent from Valentine's Day's $56.3 million debut last February. A drop was to be expected, given the different time of year and the distance from the titular holiday, though the opening is still far lower than even the most modest expectations. It's tough to account for this middling debut, considering the movie is the first romantic comedy in months and has an abundance of familiar faces, though it may simply be that audiences don't look back fondly on Valentine's Day and its ensemble, patchwork structure. With three weeks to go until New Year's Eve the movie will certainly hold up better than Valentine's Day, but this still isn't a very good starting point.

The Sitter debuted in second place with $9.85 million. That's lower than any other movie with Jonah Hill in a major leading role, though this is really the first time he's tried to open a movie alone (he co-starred with Michael Cera in Superbad and Russell Brand in Get Him to the Greek). The movie is the latest R-rated comedy to fail to hit the mid-teen-millions range, with this slump dating back all the way to The Change-Up at the beginning of August.

After leading for three-straight weeks, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 dipped 53 percent to $7.8 million and took third place for the weekend. On Saturday, it passed The Hangover Part II to become the third-highest grossing movie of the year behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and it has so far made $259.4 million.

The Muppets eased 37 percent to just under $7 million. That's a slightly steeper decline than Tangled or Enchanted at the same point, but it does appear that The Muppets is at least leveling off a bit. The movie has now earned $65.7 million.

With the Christmas season in full swing now, Arthur Christmas held on extremely well at the box office. The holiday animated movie dipped a light 12 percent to $6.5 million, and has a total of $33.4 million so far.

Hugo expanded in to 2,608 theaters and fell 20 percent to $6.05 million. Given its expanding pattern, this marked the first weekend that distributor Paramount Pictures tracked exit polling. The audience was 52 percent male and 31 percent under the age of 25, and they awarded the movie a "B+" CinemaScore. After nearly three weeks in theaters, the Martin Scorsese children's book adaptation has grossed $33.4 million.

The Descendants made its nationwide expansion this weekend and was down 9 percent to $4.4 million. The movie is pacing way ahead of past Alexander Payne movies About Schmidt and Sideways and has already earned $23.6 million through its fourth weekend.

Two significant limited openings also took place this weekend, with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy winding up ahead of Young Adult by just $299. The espionage thriller was a big hit with $310,562 from just four theaters. Its per-theater average of $77,641 is the third-best of the year behind Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life, and also the third-highest ever for a movie opening in four theaters behind The Tree of Life and The King's Speech. The Cold War espionage thriller will be expanding in to Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. this weekend, though there's no set nationwide release date yet.

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's Young Adult debuted to an okay $310,263 at eight locations (twice as many as Tinker, Tailor). That's not great business for a high-profile release like this, though its real test comes next weekend when it expands in to around 1,000 locations.

Last Weekend
'Twilight' Leads, 'Muppets' Succeeds Over Thanksgiving Weekend

This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2010 - 'Narnia' Fails to Tread Water, 'Tourist' Trips

• 2009 - 'Princess and the Frog' Leaps to the Top
• 2008 - 'The Day the Earth' Stalls
• 2007 - 'Golden Compass' Doesn't Get the Lead Out
• 2006 - 'Apocalypto' Impales Top Spot
• 2005 - 'Narnian' Delight: Passion of the 'Lion' Pays Off

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