'Carol' corrals $8.9 million

Friday total well short of Jim Carrey's "Grinch" opener

Disney kick-started the holidays on Friday with the release of “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” which led the boxoffice listings for the day as it took in an estimated $8.97 million in 3,683 locations in North America.

Director Robert Zemeckis’ latest motion-capture creation, the PG-retelling of Charles Dickens’ time-tested tale, with Jim Carrey playing Scrooge and other assorted roles, is unspooling in 3D in almost two-thirds of its playdates. While Saturday matinees will determine how strong the film is playing, its opening day fell well short of Carrey’s last Christmas movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which bowed to $15.6 million on its opening Friday on Nov. 17, 2000.

Instead of sampling yuletide spirit, other moviegoers opted to stick with paranormal-like thrillers as Universal’s “The Fourth Kind” debuted in the second spot with nearly $5 million in 2,529 engagements. The PG-13 movie directd by Olatudne Osunsanmi stars Milla Jovovich as a psychologist investigating reports of alien abductions in Alaska.

While Overture’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” an R-rated black comedy starring George Clooney and directed by Grant Heslov, also traffics in the paranormal as it follows an Army unit experimenting with strange phenomenon, it stirred up less interest among moviegoers. The Overture release, ranked third as it took in $4.6 million in 2,443 locations.

The weekend’s other new wide release, Warners’ “The Box,” a Twilight Zone-like tale starring Cameron Diaz and directed by Richard Kelly, had to settle for a fifth place debut. The PG-13 film collected $2.85 million in 2,635 locations. That left it sharing the fifth place spot for the day with holdover “Paranormal Activity,” which also took in an estimated $2.85 million.

Meanwhile, the Michael Jackson concert film “This Is It” dropped from first place last weekend to a fourth-place showing on Friday. It’s daily take of $4.2 million, down from the $7.8 million it grabbed on the previous Friday, its third day of release.