Box Office: 'New Year's Eve' disappoints on slowest 2011 weekend [Updated]
Not even a bevy of celebrities could attract audiences to the multiplex in large numbers this weekend, resulting in the slowest moviegoing weekend of the year.
"New Year's Eve," the Garry Marshall-directed romantic comedy starring nearly two dozen big-name stars, had a far softer than expected debut. The movie, which features everyone from veteran actor Robert de Niro to young star Zac Efron, collected a weak $13.7 million in North America, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros. The weekend's other new film, the R-rated comedy "The Sitter," also got off to a soft start with only $10 million.
Accordingly, ticket sales only amounted to $76 million -- marking not only the worst weekend for the business this year, but since September 2008.
"New Year's Eve" follows in the vein of Marshall's 2010's hit, "Valentine's Day," which also featured a handful of A-listers and was centered around a holiday. That film opened over the Feb. 14 weekend last year and collected a robust $56.3 million, gathering about $110 million by the end of its domestic run.
Marshall's new film, produced by Warner Bros. production unit New Line Cinema for about $56 million, was slightly better-liked by audiences than "Valentine's Day." "New Year's Eve" received an average grade of B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore, while "Valentine's Day" earned a B. As anticipated, the critically panned film appealed mostly to young women this weekend, as 70% of the audience was female.
About 53% of the crowd who saw "The Sitter" was over the age of 25. Those who saw the raunchy film appeared to be disappointed, assigning it an average grade of C+. Fortunately for 20th Century Fox, the film was relatively inexpensive to produce with a budget of around $32 million, according to an individual close to the production.
The movie, which stars Hill as a college student who works as an inept babysitter, is the latest low-budget comedy from director David Gordon Green. The opening for "The Sitter" is only slightly better than the debut of "Your Highness," which started off with $9.4 million in April. The movie, a stoner comedy set in medieval times, ultimately flopped with a total of only $21.6 million.
In limited release, Focus Features' "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" had an excellent launch. The film, an adaptation of author John le Carre's Cold War thriller, opened in four theaters and collected $300,737. That amounted to a per-theater average of $75,184, the third-highest of the year for a film in limited release. The movie, which has earned positive critical reviews, stars Gary Oldman and has been generating early awards buzz.
Paramount Pictures' "Young Adult," featuring Charlize Theron as listless teen literature author who travels back to her hometown, had a less-impressive but still solid debut. The Jason Reitman-directed film grossed a total of $320,000 in eight locations, for a per-theater average of $40,000. The well-reviewed movie will open nationwide next weekend, expanding to 1,000 theaters.
[Updated 11:51 a.m., Dec. 11: "New Year's Eve" opened abroad in 36 foreign countries, collecting a total of $12.9 million. The film performed best in the United Kingdom and Australia, bringing $2.8 million in from Down Under.
Here are the top 10 current movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
2. "The Sitter" (Fox): Opened to $10 million.
3. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" (Summit): $7.9 million on its fourth weekend, down 52%. Domestic total: $259.5 million.
4. "The Muppets" (Disney): $7.1 million on its third weekend, down 36%. $1.2 million overseas in seven foreign markets. Domestic total: $65.8 million. International total: $5.8 million.
5. "Arthur Christmas" (Sony): $6.6 million on its third weekend, down 11%. $14.3 million overseas in 63 foreign markets. Domestic total: $33.5 million. International total: $57.5 million.
6. "Hugo" (Paramount/GK Films): $6.1 million on its third weekend, down 19%. Domestic total: $33.5 million.
7. "The Descendants" (Fox Searchlight): $4.4 million on its fourth weekend, down 8%. Domestic total: $23.6 million.
8. "Happy Feet Two" (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $3.8 million on its fourth weekend, down 37%. $10.1 million overseas in 47 foreign markets. Domestic total: $56.9 million. International total: $49.2 million.
9. "Jack and Jill" (Sony): $3.2 million on its fifth weekend, down 40%. $1.9 million overseas in 23 foreign markets. Domestic total: $68.6 million. International total: $15 million.
10. "Immortals" (Relativity): $2.4 million on its fifth weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $79.8 million.]
For the record, 2:06 p.m. Dec. 11: A previous version of this post said 63% of the audience who saw "The Sitter" was over the age of 25. In fact, 53% of the audience was over the age of 25.
Photo: Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer star in "New Year's Eve." Credit: Warner Bros.