'Little Fockers' Wins Box Office; 'Gulliver's Travels' Disappoints

Universal Studios

(L to R) The test of wills between Jack Byrnes (ROBERT DE NIRO) and Greg Focker (BEN STILLER) escalates to new heights of comedy in the third installment of the blockbuster series--"Little Fockers". 

'True Grit' gives the Coen Brothers their best opening ever; Jack Black comedy stumbles to No. 7.

UPDATED: Universal's Little Fockers may have topped the Christmas box office with an estimated $48.3 million five day debut, but it was Paramount's True Grit  that saw the grittiest grosses, earning an estimated $36.8 million to come in No. 2 domestically.

Both pics debuted on Wednesday. Estimates are through Sunday.

True Grit -- drawing rave reviews and delivering the Coen Brothers their best opening ever -- scored a surprise win over 3D fanboy pic Tron: Legacy, which came in No. 3.

Excluding True Grit and several other awards contenders, domestic results weren't spectacular for holiday titles, putting intense pressure on the coming week. Christmas weekend box office grosses were down 44% from 2009, although comparisons are virtually impossible because of the holiday falling on a Saturday this year.

Twentieth Century Fox's Christmas Day opener Gulliver's Travels grossed a soft $7.2 million from 2,546 theaters on Saturday and Sunday to come in No. 7 for the weekend.

Gulliver's got beat by Fox's own The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which grossed roughly $8.5 million from 3,550 theaters Saturday and Sunday in its third weekend.

Rolling out in 15 international markets, Gulliver'sgrossed an estimated $12.4 million for a global bow of $19.6 million.

Overseas, Fockers won the Christmas race, opening to $27 million from 3,933 locations in 37 territories for a worldwide bow of $75.3 million. In key markets including the U.K., France and Russia, Fockers came in ahead of sequel Meet the Fockers, which opened over the same frame in 2004.

Domestically, however, the threequel fell well short of the $70 million opening for Meet the Fockers. Studio had predicted a $60 million bow.

Little Fockers did see an uptick in business, with Saturday grosses up 188% over Friday. For the weekend itself, Fockers grossed roughly $34 million from 3,536 theaters.

As with True Grit, Fox Searchlight's Black Swan and the Weinstein Co.'s The King's Speech were bright spots on the box office chart, with Black Swan narrowly edging out Focus Features' The Kids Are All Right to become the top 2010 specialty film.

Black Swan grossed an estimated $6.6 million for the weekend from 1,466 theaters for a cume of $29 million in its fourth week in release. Searchlight still hasn't done official exits, but the film's core demo is between the ages of 20 and 40, according to anecdotal evidence.

Expanding to 700 theaters on Christmas Day, King's Speech -- which received the most Golden Globe and SAG nods of any film -- grossed $4.6 million on Saturday and Sunday for a location average of $6,511 and cume of $8.4 million.

Focus's Somewhere, directed by Sofia Coppola, scored the best location average of Christmas weekend, grossing an estimated $142,257 from seven theaters for an average $20,322. Film, which opened Dec. 22, scored a five day cume of $196,168 and five day location average of $28,024.

Usually, Coen Brothers films open in limited runs, but Paramount believed that True Grit would play far more broadly. Studio was right.

Paramount vice chair Rob Moore said Westerns appeal primarily to older audiences, but that True Grit drew a healthy number of younger moviegoers, who gave the film a A- CinemaScore. Of the film's audience, 30% were under the age of 25. Film drew a B+ CinemaScore overall.

"Ethan and Joel Coen are certainly as talented as any filmmakers working in the industry today, and they have delivered another fantastic film," said Moore, who predicted True Gritwill continue to lure younger moviegoers.

Notably, True Grit was shut out by the Golden Globes, but is a favorite of critics' groups.

True Grit cost a modest $38 million to produce, and was co-financed by Paramount and Skydance Prods. (it's the first release from Skydance). Of the film's total $36.8 million opening from 3,047 theaters, $25.6 million was earned over the weekend.


Placing No. 5 domestically was Paramount and Relativity Media's awards favorite The Fighter, which grossed $11.5 for the five days and $8.5 million for the weekend from 2,511 theaters for a cume of $27.6 million in its second session.

Paramount also is Universal and Relativity's partner on Little Fockers.

The financial exposure on Fockers is substantial since it cost a $100 million to make, before a hefty worldwide marketing spend.

Universal president of marketing Eddie Egan said Fockers is off to a fine start, and that the weekend uptick bodes well for good midweek biz going into New Year's weekend. He also noted the strong start overseas.

"We're on our way to success. Well now just how much success in the coming weeks," Egan said.

In the U.S., Fockers was strongest among older audiences familiar with the comedy franchise. A majority of the audience was over the age of 25, while females made up 57%.

Opening Dec. 17, Tron: Legacy continued to play best to older fanboys, although Disney is still hoping for the event title to broaden out domestically.

Tron grossed an estimated $31.8 million for the Wednesday-Sunday stretch from 3,415 theaters for a cume of $88.3 million in its first 10 days to come in No. 3. Overseas, it grossed $26.6 million over Christmas weekend from 34 territories for an international cume of $65.5 million and global total of $153.8 million. Tron is sure to jump the $200 million mark by the New Year.

There is an overabundance of 3D titles in the marketplace, all competing for screens and family eyeballs. In addition to Christmas titles Tron,Gulliver's and Warner Bros.'Yogi Bear, there are holdovers Narnia and Disney's Tangled.

Gulliver's was the last 3D title to enter the fray. It didn't help that the film was tracking softly before it opened.

Fox exec VP of domestic distribution Bert Livingston said he expects Gulliver's to pick up the pace now that younger kids are no longer distracted by Christmas.

"Every day next week is like a Saturday," Livingston said.

But internally, Fox is prepared for continued bad news. Film cost $100 million to make, and another $12 million to convert to 3D. Fox has two co-financing partners, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious.

Both Gulliver's and Little Fockers earned a disappointing B- CinemaScore.

Narnia, from Fox and Walden Media, came in No. 4 domestically. Worldwide, film jumped the $200 million mark with a cume of $232.5 million through Sunday.

Yogi came in No. 5 at the domestic B.O., grossing $15 million for the five days and $8.8 for the weekend for a 10-day cume of $36.8 million.

Sony's ill-fated Christmas romantic comedy How Do You Know, opening oppositeTron and Yogi on Dec. 17, fell off the top 10 chart in its second frame, with a cume of $15.2 million through Sunday.

The Tourist, from Sony and GK Films, fared better, growing its cume to $41.2 million through Sunday and placing No. 10 for the weekend.

Sony/Screen Gem's Country Strong, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, brought much-welcome news for Sony, scoring a location average of $17,321 for the weekend after bowing in Nashville and Los Angeles in an awards qualifying run on Dec. 22. Film opens nationwide in January.

Sony Pictures Classics' The Illusionist was right behind, posting a per location average of $16,876 as it opened in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

Lionsgate's Rabbit Hole had more trouble as it expanded to 34 locations over the weekend, grossing $95,200 for a per location average of $2,800.