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Box office: 'Little Fockers' big but littler than its predecessor; 'True Grit' strong second; 'Gulliver's Travels' flops [Updated]

December 26, 2010 | 10:11 am

LittleFockers The Fockers are still the king of the busy holiday box office as "Little Fockers" had a pretty good start, but the Coen brothers' "True Grit" was surprisingly close on their heels. Meanwhile, Jack Black's "Gulliver's Travels" barely got off the starting line.

"Little Fockers" opened to a studio-estimated $48.3 million from its Wednesday opening through Sunday, not bad but well behind the $70.5-million launch of its predecessor, "Meet the Fockers," on the same dates in 2004.

Though the opening of the PG-13 family comedy starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro was softer than expected based on pre-release surveys going into the weekend, "True Grit" topped expectations. The western remake starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen took in $36.8 million over the five days

The only other new movie in nationwide release was the Jack Black comedy "Gulliver's Travels," a 3-D adaptation of the classic Jonathan Swift story. It debuted Saturday, Christmas Day, and took in a weak estimated $7.2 million for the two-day weekend.

Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Relativity Media spent a hefty sum to produce "Little Fockers," with its array of stars, including Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand and Jessica Alba. Three people close to the film said its budget was between $130 million and $140 million, though a spokeswoman for domestic distributor Universal said the final cost was about $100 million.

Day-to-day trends in ticket sales, including a big dip on Christmas Eve and a huge jump on Christmas Day, were similar to those of "Meet the Fockers," indicating that the film was following a pattern similar to the last film in the trilogy but on a smaller scale. If it continues on the same path, it should end up with a domestic gross of about $190 million, compared with $279 million for "Meet the Fockers."

That's a solid number but less than what Universal and its partners were hoping for. The three companies are evenly splitting revenues from the picture.

"Little Fockers" drew a diverse crowd of families without young children, based on exit polls, though audiences tilted more female. Reactions were mixed, with ticket buyers giving it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

Overseas, where Paramount is releasing the movie, "Little Fockers" took in $27 million in 37 foreign markets, which Paramount estimated represented about two-thirds of its foreign box-office potential. "Meet the Fockers" grossed slightly less internationally than domestically, and it appears that "Little Fockers" will do the same.

TrueGrit Paramount and Skydance Productions spent about $38 million to produce "True Grit," making the western remake a hit out of the gate. Its $25.6-million take for the three-day weekend was the best ever for a movie directed by the quirky Coen brothers, not accounting for ticket-price inflation. It is likely to become the first movie from the Coens to surpass $100 million in domestic ticket sales. Their previous record was $74.3 million for "No Country for Old Men."

"True Grit" drew a broad crowd that included adult fans of the Coens and younger males whom Paramount had targeted in advertising, hoping they would be seeking an alternative to family films over the holiday weekend.

The PG-rated "Gulliver's" cost 20th Century Fox and its co-financiers Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners about $112 million to make and likely will be a major money loser unless it performs significantly better overseas. It's the second under-performer in a row for Black, who last year starred in the flop "Year One."

Even accounting for the fact that it didn't play on Christmas Eve, a very slow moviegoing day, "Gulliver's" came in behind Fox's other family film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which opened two weeks ago.

"Dawn Treader" enjoyed a small drop of 13%, better than any other returning movie that didn't increase its theater count, indicating that it has momentum with families despite a soft start. It took in $10.8 million for the three-day weekend, bringing its total to $63.9 million.

[Updated, 12:15 p.m.: The third "Narnia" movie continued to do much better overseas, where it grossed $25.5 million in 66 foreign markets this weekend, bringing its international total to a healthy $168.6 million.]

Last weekend's No. 1 movie, "Tron: Legacy," took a sizable fall of 54% to $20.1 million, indicating that Disney's hopes that the tent-pole movie would expand beyond fanboys to a family audience may have been overly optimistic. It has grossed a so-so $88.3 million domestically after 10 days and $65.5 million overseas from 34 foreign markets.

Warner Bros.' family movie "Yogi Bear" had a slightly better drop of 46% on its second weekend to $8.8 million after a modest debut. Its total gross is $36.8 million.

Two specialty movies angling for Oscar attention enjoyed strong expansions this weekend. "Black Swan" took in $6.6 million, bringing its total so far to $29 million, a strong performance for a low-budget indie picture.

King'sSpeech "The King's Speech" played outside of major cities for the first time, at about half as many theaters as "Black Swan," and grossed $4.6 million. The historical British drama starring Colin Firth is now at $8.4 million.

"The Fighter," another awards contender that began its full nationwide run last weekend, dropped a modest 30% to $8.5 million. The well-reviewed Mark Wahlberg boxing drama stands at $27.6 million.

[Updated, 1:40 p.m.: The Sofia Coppola-directed Hollywood drama "Somewhere" opened to a pretty good $196,168 at seven theaters from Wednesday through Sunday.]

But "Rabbit Hole," the drama starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, is finding very little audience. The adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a family coping with loss grossed only $95,200 for the weekend at 34 locations, taking its total to $176,000.

[Updated, 12:15 p.m.: Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office according to studio estimates and, with international ticket sales when available, according to studio estimates and

1. "Little Fockers" (Universal/Paramount/Relativity): Opened to $48.3 million in its first five days, $34 million for the three-day weekend. $27 million overseas in 37 foreign markets.

2. "True Grit" (Paramount/Skydance): Opened to $36.8 million in its first five days, $25.6 million for the weekend.

3. "Tron: Legacy" (Disney): $20.1 million, down 54% on its second weekend. Domestic total: $88.3 million. $26.6 million overseas in 34 foreign markets. International total: $65.5 million.

4. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (Fox/Walden): $10.8 million on its third weekend, down 13%. Domestic total: $63.9 million. $25.5 million overseas in 66 foreign markets. International total: $168.6 million.

5. "Yogi Bear" (Warner Bros.): $8.8 million on its second weekend, down 46%. Domestic total: $36.8 million. Opened to $1.2 million overseas in five foreign markets.

6. "The Fighter" (Relativity/Paramount): $8.5 million on its second weekend in nationwide release, down 30%. Domestic total: $27.6 million.

7. "Gulliver's Travels" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): Opened to $7.2 million on a two-day weekend. $12.4 million overseas in 15 foreign markets.

8. "Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight/Cross Creek): $6.6 million on its seventh weekend, down 21%. Domestic total: $29 million

9. "Tangled" (Disney): $6.5 million on its fifth weekend, down 26%. Domestic total: $143.8 million. $9.5 million overseas in 18 foreign markets. International total: $118 million.

10. "The Tourist" (GK Films/Sony): $5.7 million on its third weekend, down 33%. Domestic total: $41.2 million. $8.5 million overseas in 24 foreign markets. International total: $37.1 million.]

-- Ben Fritz

Photos, from top: Ben Stiller and Barbra Streisand in "Little Fockers." Credit: Glen Wilson / Universal Pictures. Jeff Bridges in "True Grit." Credit: Lorey Sebastian / Paramount Pictures. Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech." Credit: Laurie Sparham / The Weinstein Co.