Blizzard Another Factor in Disappointing Christmas Box Office

2:12 PM PST 12/27/2010 by Pamela McClintock
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

One affected theater saw business drop 98 percent due to the East Coast snowstorm, which hurt all movies.

The powerful blizzard on the East Coast brought even more bad news for an already disappointing Christmas box office, with some films losing as much as 10 percent in expected Sunday business.

Universal's Little Fockers -- which was already running significantly behind the 2004 opening of Meet the Fockers, the second film in the franchise -- grossed $30.8 million for the weekend instead of the projected $34 million. That lowered the film's five-day opening to $45.1 million instead of $48.3 million.

Fox's struggling Gulliver's Travels, which opened Christmas Day, opened to $6.3 million instead of the projected $7.2 million. Yogi Bear, Warner Bros.' holiday 3D kids film, grossed $7.8 million for the frame instead of $8.8 million.

Even box-office darlings were hurt, although not as much. Paramount's True Grit grossed $24.9 million for the weekend instead of $25.6 million. Fox Searchlight's Black Swan grossed $6.3 million instead of $6.6 million.

Theaters up and down the East Coast felt Sunday's slowdown. At one theater in Norfolk, Va., business was down 98% from Saturday. Theaters in New York, Philadelphia and Boston reported 70% drops.

"They basically shut down. That's the bottom line," one distribution exec said.

Sunday was expected to be the busiest day of Christmas weekend, so the timing of the storm couldn't have been worse for Hollywood studios already concerned with the sluggish holiday box office.

Studio execs are still hoping for a reversal in fortune and say this week should see strong results with kids are out of school and many adults off work.

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