Box Office Report: 'New Year's Eve' Ringing in the Holiday Early

Warner Bros.

Garry Marshall's star packed ensemble opens to No. 1 at the Friday box office, while Jonah Hill's R-rated comedy "The Sitter" off to sluggish start; "The Descendants" continues to charm.

New Line and Warner Bros.' s New Year's Eve is on course to gross $6 million to $7 million in its first day of play at the domestic box office, putting it at No. 1.

PHOTOS: 'New Year's Eve' Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals

Director Garry Marshall's $56 million star-studded ensemble pic is expected to open in the $20 million range for the weekend, in line with pre-release tracking. While that's far less than the $72 million bow of Marshall's Valentine's Day over the four-day Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend in 2010, Warner Bros. expects the film to have an especially strong multiple and play through New Year's Day since it's the only holiday romantic comedy.

New Year's Eve cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Lea Michele, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Hilary Swank and Seth Meyers.

Off to a sluggish start is David Gordon Green's R-rated comedy The Sitter, headlining Jonah Hill in his first starring vehicle. Early returns show the 20th Century Fox pic grossing roughly $3 million on Friday for a weekend debut in the $7.5 million range, less than expected.

The Sitter, which cost under $25 million to produce, is tracking strongest among younger males, who have been notoriously absent from the multiplex in recent months.

PHOTOS: 'New Year's Eve' Film Stills

In the film, Hill plays a college student on suspension who is prodded into babysitting the kids next door. Things go askew when he takes them for a wild ride across New York City after being promised sex with his girlfriend. Michael De Luca produced the comedy.

Martin Scorsese's 3D family friendly film Hugo was holding its own on Friday as it continued to roll out, upping its theater count from 1,840 to 2,600. Paramount is distributing the big-budget movie, which was fully financed and produced by Graham King's GK Films.

Hugo is among a slew of awards contenders positioning themselves as The Hollywood Foreign Press Association prepares to announce Golden Globe nominations on Dec. 15, preceded a day early by SAG nominations.

Fox Searchlight's awards contender The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney, also continued to do strong on Friday as ite expanded into an additional 300 theaters for a total location of 874 in its fourth weekend.

PHOTOS: 'The Descendants' Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals

Specialty pics opening this weeked that hope to ride the wave of awards attention include British espionage pic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on John Le Carre's bestselling book and starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy. Directed by Thomas Alfredson from an adapted screenplay by Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor, Tinker Tailor was produced by Working Title and StudioCanal.

Tinker Tailor has already done strong business in the U.K., where it opened in mid-September and has grossed nearly $22 million to date. In the U.S., Focus Features opens the critically acclaimed film in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York.

Paramount opens Charlize Theron starrer Young Adult -- which reteams director Jason Reitman with Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody -- in eight theaters New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Minneapolis, where Cody got her start as a stripper.

Searchlight's Shame, hoping to overcome the stigma associated with the NC-17 rating, adds 11 theaters to its run for a total count of 21. Directed by Steve McQueen and headlining Michael Fassbender, Shame opened last weekend to strong numbers despite the rating.

The Weinstein Co. expands awards darling The Artist, which played in six theaters in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco last weekend, into an additional 10 theaters.

Madonna's W.E., from the Weinstein Co., and Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay's edgy indie film We Need to Talk About Kevin, starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, both begin one-week award qualifying runs this weekend in Los Angeles. Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired U.S. rights to We Need to Talk About Kevin out of the Cannes Film Festival in May.