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‘Twilight’ Collects $42 Million to Remain No. 1 at Theaters

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” the fourth film in the teen vampire series, held the top spot in U.S. and Canadian cinemas over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, collecting $42 million in ticket sales.

“The Muppets,” Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS) film featuring the children’s characters created by Jim Henson, opened in second place with ticket sales of $29.5 million, Hollywood.com Box- Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Sony Corp.’s three-dimensional animated feature “Arthur Christmas,” another children’s film, opened fourth with sales of $12.7 million.

Three family films, including Martin Scorsese’s 3-D tale “Hugo” from Viacom Inc.’s (VIA) Paramount Pictures, vied for the weekend market for children’s fare, letting Summit Entertainment LLC’s “Twilight” cruise to a second win. The film about vampire Edward Cullen and his not-undead girlfriend Bella Swan has taken in $221.3 million in North America since its Nov. 18 release, according to Hollywood.com.

“We have seen ‘Twilight’ do well amid family audience cannibalization,” said Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com, in a telephone interview from New York. “The release of three family movies together'' forced the titles to compete with each other in the same market, curbing sales, he said.

Five-day sales for the Thanksgiving weekend came to $220.4 million, according to Hollywood.com. That compares with the record $273 million set in 2009, when “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” led the box office.

‘The Muppets’

The “Twilight” series, based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, is scheduled to end a year from now with “Breaking Dawn Part 2.” The first three movies in the series have had worldwide sales of $1.8 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

In “Breaking Dawn Part I,” Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, marries Edward, portrayed by Robert Pattinson. She becomes pregnant and is targeted for death by werewolves. Taylor Lautner returns to co-star as Jacob Black, whose unrequited love for Bella is tested by his commitment to his werewolf clan.

In “The Muppets,” three fans learn that an oil man wants to drill under the characters’ old theater. They seek out the former stars Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy and Gonzo, now leading separate lives. Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson and Dave Goelz provide the three main Muppet voices, respectively. The film also features Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper.

Finishing third was “Happy Feet Two,” an animated comedy from Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros. studio, with $13.4 million. The film features the tap-dancing penguin Mumble, who is vexed by his son Erik’s lack of rhythm. It features the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

‘Hugo’

“Arthur Christmas,” which was fourth, explains to curious kids how Santa Claus manages to get all those presents delivered every year in a single day. The film exposes Santa’s high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole, while telling the story of a family in a state of comic dysfunction, according to a Sony summary of the picture.

The picture features the voices of James McAvoy as Arthur and Hugh Laurie as Steve. Laura Linney, Bill Nighy, Eva Longoria and Michael Palin also have roles.

“Hugo,” which opened in fifth place, is Oscar winner Scorsese’s first 3-D family film. It tells the story of a boy, played by Asa Butterfield, who lives a secret life in the walls and clock tower of a Paris train station. Based on the book by Brian Selznick, it is also a tribute to silent film pioneer Georges Melies, played by Ben Kingsley, who runs a toy kiosk at the station.

Receipts Decline

With the highest per-theater average ($8,888) among the new films, “Hugo” has “the chance of breaking out and distinguishing itself in the weeks to come,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office division of Hollywood.com.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films fell 8.39 percent to $156.7 million from the-year earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Domestic box-office receipts this year have declined 3.66 percent to $9.36 billion. Attendance is down 4.51 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 and estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 BREAKING DAWN PT. 1  $42.0   4,066  $10,330   -70  $221.3   2
2 THE MUPPETS           29.5   3,440    8,576   --     42.0   1
3 HAPPY FEET TWO        13.4   3,611    3,711   -37    43.8   2
4 ARTHUR CHRISTMAS      12.7   3,376    3,762   --     17.0   1
5 HUGO                  11.4   1,277    8,888   --     15.4   1
6 JACK AND JILL         10.3   3,029    3,400   -12    57.4   3
7 IMMORTALS              8.8   2,677    3,287   -29    68.6   3
8 PUSS IN BOOTS          7.5   3,005    2,479   -31   135.4   5
9 TOWER HEIST            7.3   2,474    2,960     3    65.4   4
10 THE DESCENDANTS       7.2     433   16,628   505    10.7   2
11 J. EDGAR              4.95  1,910    2,592   -16    28.8   3
12 MY WEEK WITH MARILYN  1.8     244    7,266   --      2.1   1


Top 12 Films Grosses:

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $156.7       $171.1      -8.39


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $9,354.9      $9,712.4     -3.66


Year-to-date Attendance:      -4.51%

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net; Debarati Roy in New York at droy5@bloomberg.net.

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

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