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Thanksgiving box office record blown away despite absence of new hits

Twi2 There were no major new hits at the box office this weekend, but that was of little concern to Hollywood as total ticket sales blew away the previous record.

Domestic box-office receipts from Wednesday through Sunday totaled an estimated $275 million, beating the previous mark set in 2000 by 12%, according to Hollywood.com. Although no new pictures drew big audiences, a number of existing ones continued to generate big ticket sales, while the sheer diversity of solidly performing pictures drew every segment of the populace.

"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" led the record-breaking weekend, landing at No. 1 for the second weekend in a row despite plummeting 70% from its massive debut. The drop was even bigger than that of the original "Twilight" on the same weekend last year, 62%. Given the sequel's much bigger start, however, there's hardly anything for Summit Entertainment to complain about. The movie, which cost just under $50 million to make, including Canadian tax credits, is on its way to grossing more than $600 million worldwide, even if its box-office run ends quickly, as looks likely.

The No. 2 movie was also the same as last weekend's but shockingly close to no. 1. "The Blind Side" actually increased its ticket-sales revenue by 18%, coming in at a studio-estimated $40.1 million for the three-day weekend, just a bit below the $42.5 million collected by "New Moon." The inspirational drama starring Sandra Bullock appears to be expanding beyond its initial audience of adult women thanks to strong word-of-mouth.

It is on track to gross more than $200 million domestically, making it a major hit for Alcon Entertainment, which financed the picture for $35 million, as well as Warner Bros, which gets a distribution fee.

None of the weekend's new movies in wide release were hits, although they weren't total disasters. Disney's "Old Dogs" and Fox's "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" both had relatively weak starts that leave their respective studios hoping declines will be modest and that they will play through the holidays.

NinjaA "Ninja Assassin," distributed by Warner Bros. for financiers Dark Castle Entertainment and Legendary Pictures, did better given its target audience of young males and relatively modest budget of less than $50 million.

Several movies already in the market held on well, most notably Disney's "A Christmas Carol," which saw ticket sales increase by 30% from last weekend.

Disney's new animated feature "The Princess and the Frog" sold out nearly all its screenings at two theaters in Los Angeles and New York while "The Road," distributed by the Weinstein Co. for 2929 Entertainment, got off to a pretty good start at 111 locations.

Overseas, "New Moon" continues to rule, collecting $85.1 million. Sony's "2012" collected a very healthy $61.6 million. "A Christmas Carol" continues to perform decently, bringing in $20.4 million. "Ninja Assassin" opened to $6 million in 10 markets, led by star Rain's home country of South Korea, where it collected a solid $3.2 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office and their three- and five-day grosses, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (Summit): three-day total, $42.5 million, down 70%. Five-day, $66 million. Domestic total, $230.7 million. International total, $243 million.

2. "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros. / Alcon): three-day, $40.1 million, up 18%. Five-day, $57.5 million. Domestic total, $100.3 million.

3. "2012" (Sony): three-day total, $18 million, down 32%. Five-day, $25.6 million. Domestic total, $138.8 million. International total, $455.8 million.

4. "Old Dogs" (Disney): three-day, $16.8 million. Five-day, $24.1 million. From South Africa and Mexico this weekend, $1 million.

5. "A Christmas Carol" (Disney): three-day total, $16 million, up 30%. Five-day, $24.1 million. Domestic total, $105.4 million. Foreign total, $90.8 million.

6. "Ninja Assassin" (Warner Bros. / Dark Castle / Legendary): three-day, $13.1 million. Five-day, $21 million.

7. "Planet 51" (Sony/Ilion): three-day, $10.2 million, down 17%. Five-day, $13.9 million. Domestic total, $28.5 million.

8. "Precious" (Lionsgate): three-day, $7.1 million, down 35%. Five-day, $9.4 million. Total, $32.4 million.

9. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (Fox): three-day, $7 million. Five-day, $9.5 million. Total, $10.1 million.

10. "The Men Who Stare at Goats" (Overture / BBC / Winchester Capital): three-day, $1.5 million, down 46%. Five-day, $2.2 million. Total, $30.6 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos, from top: Peter Facinelli and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." Credit: Kimberley French / Summit Entertainment.  Naomie Harris and Rain in "Ninja Assassin." Credit: David Appleby / Warner Bros. Pictures

 
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