'True Grit' Dethrones 'Fockers' to Top Weekend Box Office With $15 Million

8:34 AM PST 01/09/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures
True Grit

'Season of the Witch' debuts at No. 3, while 'Country Strong' expands to take the No. 6 spot behind 'Black Swan.'

Paramount and Skydance Prods.' True Grit wrested the weekend box office crown from Universal's Little Fockers for the first time, grossing an estimated $15 million from 3,124 theaters and upping its take to $110.4 million.

True Grit has quickly galloped to one of the top grossing Westerns of all time, and shows no sign of slowing down to a trot. It's unusual for a film to move up to No. 1 in its third weekend.

Fockers grossed an estimated $13.8 million from 3,675 locations for a domestic cume of $124 million, according to Rentrak. True Grit and Fockers had no trouble beating Relativity Media newcomer Season of the Witch, which came in No. 3 with an estimated debut of $10.7 million from 2,816 locations.

Heading into the weekend, expectations were muted for both Season of the Witch and Sony/Screen Gems' new nationwide entry Country Strong, which grossed an estimated $7.3 million to come in No. 6 as it expanded from a two-city run to 1,424 theaters.

It was a slow weekend overall compared to the same frame a year ago, when Avatar lit up the domestic box office with a $50 million gross. Revenues this year were down a steep 30%.

Business was brighter overseas, where Fockers and Sony's The Tourist each jumped the $100 million mark for global cumes of $234 million and $162 million, respectively. Gulliver's Travels, from Fox, grew its foreign gross to $81 million as it continued to roll out, helping to make up for a poor showing in North America. Gulliver's has grossed $34.6 million domestically for a worldwide total of $115.6 million.

Tron: Legacy, from Disney, neared the $150 million mark domestically as it grossed an estimated $9.8 million from 3,013 theaters for a cume of $147.9 million and placing No. 4. Pic's new global gross through Sunday was $291.1 million.

Season of the Witch, starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, is the first in-house production released by Relativity since it got into the domestic distribution biz. Film was produced by Charles Roven and Alex Gartner's Atlas Entertainment and cost $40 million to make.

Relativity says Season of the Witch will be fine financially since 75% of the budget was covered by foreign presales and tax credits. The picture's $10.7 million debut was in line with expectations.

Season of the Witch was fueled by Hispanic moviegoers, who made up 36% of the audience.

Overall, though, the medieval action pic had trouble getting younger males, with 61% of the audience over the age of 25. Males made up 52% of the auditorium.

Toplining Gwyneth Paltrow and costing just $12 million to produce, Country Strong came in on the higher end of Sony's expectations. It also fared better than Season of the Witch in drawing a B CinemaScore, compared to a C+ for Season.

Country Strong earned a B+ CinemaScore among women, who made up a full 73% of the audience. Film played slightly older, with 51% of the audience over the age of 30.

Screen Gems heavily promoted Country Strong -- about a troubled country singer trying to reignite her career -- to heartland states. Sony said it was pleased that the film also did well on both coasts as well. Country Strong also stars Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester.

Country Strong was still beat out by Fox Searchlight holdover Black Swan, which grossed an estimated $8.4 million from 1,584 theaters for a cume of $61.5 million. Swan placed No. 5, while Country Strong came in No. 6.

Black Swan expands to more than 2,000 screens Jan. 14. If it continues to stay on its toes, box office observers believe the film could hit $100 million.

Paramount and Relativity Media's The Fighter landed at No. 7, grossing an estimated $7 million from 2,528 theaters for a cume of $57.8 million.

The King's Speech, from the Weinstein Co., followed with an estimated gross of $6.8 million from 758 theaters for a cume of $33.3 million.

Sony drummed up business for awards frontrunner The Social Network by playing the film in roughly 600 theaters over the weekend, in advance of the movie's DVD release Tuesday. Social Network grossed an estimated $650,000 for a new domestic cume of $94.1 million. Overseas, the film has grossed at least $104 million, so is close to jumping the $200 million mark globally.

Among more limited releases, the Weinstein Co.'s Blue Valentine expanded nicely, scoring the best location average of the weekend. The indie film grossed $718,800 from 40 theaters for a theater average of $17,970 and cume of $1.2 million.

Sony Pictures Classics' Another Year grossed an estimated $91,791 from seven theaters for a location average of $13,113 and cume of $308,245. Sony Classics' The Illusionist posted a per location average of $11,457 in grossing $34,370 from three theaters for a cume of $179,792.

Focus Features' Somewhere grossed an estimated $159,600 from 17 theaters for a location average of $9,386 and cume of $659,900.

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