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December 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Just when you thought the box office couldn’t get any worse than it got last weekend, it got worse. After recording its lowest gross of the year last week, it set a new low of $74 million, down nearly 9 percent from last weekend and the smallest total since September 2008. Then, however, it featured no new films in wide release. This weekend it featured two of them, including Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve, which was expected to give the box office a hefty lift. But despite a stellar — no, make that a galactic — cast that included Oscar nominees and winners; an expensive marketing campaign that put many of those actors on TV talk shows and the covers of magazines; a survey by research firm NRG indicating that 84 percent of women were aware of the movie before it opened; and the fact that it is the only romantic comedy being released during this holiday season — despite all of that, ticket sales for New Year’s Eve turned out to be as dismal as most of the reviews for it were. While the consensus among box office pundits was that it would wind up with around $20-25 million, it actually took in an estimated $13.7 million. Nevertheless, it still managed to win the weekend competition for the No. 1 spot — by default. (Hardly any other movie did well, either.) The Sitter, the No 2 film this weekend, also performed at the low end of expectations, collecting about $10 million. (Fortunately, the movie reportedly cost less than $25 million to produce.) After spending three weeks at No. 1, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 fell to third place with an estimated $7.9 million. No one at the studio, Summit Entertainment, was likely fretting over that figure, however; after all, the movie has now made $259.5 million domestically. Coming in a close fourth was Disney’s The Muppets with about $7.1 million, followed by Sony’s Arthur Christmas with $6.6 million (down just 10.8 percent from last last weekend). The marketing strategy for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo appeared to be coming undone, as it dropped 19 percent despite adding nearly 800 venues to its theater count. It earned just $6.1 million to put it in sixth place. The platform marketing campaign for The Descendants, however, seemed to be paying off. It added 302 theaters to its total, bringing the number to 876 and raking in $4.84 million, up 1 percent from last weekend. Its per-theater average of $5,519 remained the best of any film in the top ten as it had during the previous three weeks. (By contrast, the No. 1 film, New Year’s Eve, averaged $3,505 per theater.) By far the best per-theater average, however, was recorded by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which took in $301,000 as it opened in just four theaters in New York and L.A. — or an average of $75,250 per theater.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo: 1. New Year’s Eve, $13.7 million; 2. The Sitter, $10 million; 3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, $7.9 million; 4. The Muppets, $7.1 million; 5. Arthur Christmas, $6.6 million; 6. Hugo, $6.1 million; 7. The Descendants, $4.4 million; 8. Happy Feet Two, $3.8 million; 9. Jack and Jill, $3.2 million; 10. Immortals, $2.4 million.