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December 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With the names of more stars than can fit on a marquee, New Year’s Eve is expected to emerge as the No. 1 film at the box office this weekend. But it may not earn much more than $20 million — certainly not enough to pay the fees of all those big stars — according to industry forecasters. Like its predecessor, Valentine’s Day, it has been panned by critics, although its studio, New Line, must be well aware of the fact that the earlier film went on to earn $110 million domestically. The only other film opening wide is The Sitter, which has also been panned by critics. It’s expected to wind up with $15-20 million. Total ticket sales are expected to come in well below those for the same weekend in 2010 when The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, opened with $24 million, followed by The Tourist with $16.5 million and Tangled, which collected $14.3 million. The film that is likely to earn the best per-theater average over the weekend is Focus Features’ Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is opening in two theaters in Los Angeles and two in New York. It has received virtually unanimous praise from critics.

UPDATE: Judging from Friday’s ticket sales, it now appears that virtually every movie will come in well below projections. New Year’s Eve earned just $5.1 million on Friday and now looks set to end the weekend with about $14 million. That would still put it in the lead since The Sitter, the only other movie to open wide, registered just $3.7 million on Friday and appears likely to finish in second place with about $10 million. In its fourth week, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 will probably fall to third place after taking in $2.5 million on Friday. It’s likely to wind up with less than $8 million. In fact, some pundits are predicting that, given the probability of a surge of matinee family audiences on Saturday and Sunday for The Muppets,;, the funny monsters could finally overtake the handsome monsters when the weekend ticket sales are tallied.