`Fockers' Tops U.S. Christmas Weekend Box Office With $34 Million in Sales

“Little Fockers,” a comedy sequel with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro that was largely panned by critics, led the Christmas weekend box office in the U.S. and Canada, taking in $30.8 million for Universal Pictures.

“True Grit,” the Western drama from directors and brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, opened in second place with $25.6 million for Paramount Pictures, researcher Hollywood.com Box- Office said in an e-mailed statement.

The total for “Little Fockers” was $3.2 million less than Sunday’s estimate. Comedies typically do well during the holidays as families look for films that appeal to kids and adults, said Gitesh Pandya, editor of the Box Office Guru website. Still, sales were 33 percent below the last “Fockers” movie because of poor reviews and bad word-of-mouth, he said.

“Even though it’s the No. 1 opening, I don’t think it’s a spectacular result,” Pandya said in an interview. “I don’t think it’s going to have long-term playability because it’s not a very good movie. I found it painfully unfunny.”

Of 115 reviews of “Little Fockers” posted on the website Rottentomatoes.com, 103 were negative.

Overall ticket revenue fell for a seventh consecutive weekend, dropping 49 percent from a year earlier. The industry will need about $275 million in sales this week to match last year’s record $10.6 billion, according to the latest data from Hollywood.com’s box-office service.

“Avatar” was the top movie at this time last year, with Christmas weekend sales of $75.6 million before going on to become the top-grossing film of all time.

Smaller Audiences

Although the industry expects smaller audiences when Christmas Eve falls on a Friday, this past weekend attracted fewer moviegoers than in 2004, when the holiday last occurred on a weekend, said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo.

“Little Fockers” is the third film in the series about two incompatible families linked by marriage. The first two movies generated $847 million worldwide for Universal, which is owned by General Electric Co.

In the latest version, De Niro reprises his role as an overbearing father and Stiller is a hapless son-in-law who is unable to please him. In the latest film, Stiller’s character must once again prove himself as the families get together to celebrate a birthday.

“True Grit,” from Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, stars Jeff Bridges as the grizzled, trigger-happy U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. A 1969 version of the film brought a best-actor Oscar to John Wayne for his portrayal of Cogburn.

Strong-Willed Teen

In the new movie, based on the novel by Charles Portis, Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a strong-willed teen who seeks Cogburn’s help in tracking down the man who killed her father. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin co-star.

“Tron: Legacy,” Walt Disney Co.’s sequel to the 1982 movie about a man trapped inside a video game, fell to third from first with $19.2 million. The film also stars Jeff Bridges, this time as a programmer who has remained in the cyber world for two decades. His son, played by Garrett Hedlund, is pulled into the game to help him plot an escape. Olivia Wilde co-stars.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the third film based on the C.S. Lewis books, fell to fourth place with $9.5 million.

“Yogi Bear,” based on the television cartoon, was fifth with sales of $8.8 million. The film from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. features the voices of Dan Aykroyd as Yogi and Justin Timberlake as his pal, Boo Boo. In the movie, the bears join forces with a park ranger to keep Jellystone Park out of the hands of a private developer.

‘Tangled’

“The Fighter,” distributed by Paramount, was sixth with sales of $8.5 million. Disney’s “Tangled,” a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale about a girl locked in a tower, was seventh with $6.4 million. “Gulliver’s Travels,” the weekend’s other new film, opened in eighth with $6.3 million in sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox.

In a modern update of the Jonathan Swift novel, Jack Black stars as an aspiring writer who is transported to a Lilliput, a land of tiny people.

Sales for the weekend’s top 12 films dropped to $135.3 million from last year’s $264 million, according to Hollywood.com. This year’s domestic box-office sales total $10.3 billion, down 0.5 percent from a year earlier. Attendance is down 5.4 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Dec. 24 through today.

                       Rev.            Avg./    Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater  Chg.   (mln) Wks
================================================================
1 LITTLE FOCKERS       30.8    3,536    8,720    --     45.1   1
2 TRUE GRIT            25.6    3,047    8,402    --     36.8   1
3 TRON: LEGACY         19.2    3,451    5,550   -56     87.4   2
4 CHRONICLES OF NARNIA  9.5    3,532    2,683   -23     62.6   3
5 YOGI BEAR             8.8    3,515    2,504   -46     36.8   2
6 THE FIGHTER           8.5    2,511    3,385   -30     27.6   3
7 TANGLED               6.4    2,582    2,489   -27    143.7   5
8 GULLIVER’S TRAVELS    6.3    2,546    2,477    --      6.3   1
9 BLACK SWAN            6.3    1,457    4,293   -25     28.7   4
10 THE TOURIST          5.7    2,756    2,068   -33     41.2   3
11 THE KING’S SPEECH    4.5      700    6,426   310      8.3   5
12 HOW DO YOU KNOW      3.7    2,483    1,490   -51     15.2   2


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $135.3        $264.0      -48.8


Year-to-date Revenue

     2010          2009
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $10,325       $10,377       -0.5

Year-to-date Attendance:      -5.4%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net.

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