Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Little Fockers Repeats to Start New Year

Hollywood ended the year with a whimper, I’m afraid.

The last two months of the year saw the box office earning lower than figures seen in 2009. And this was with multiple 3D releases playing around the country in hopes their surcharges would help offset the lack of a film-going public. But with so much disinterest by audiences avoiding movies so late in the year it is a clear indication that it was Hollywood’s fault for delivering such subpar releases. No amount of advertising could force families to see a live-action/CGI hybrid release devoted to a Hanna-Barbera creation (Yogi Bear). And 3D did little to enhance the quality of Gulliver’s Travels. But when the quality was porous to begin with, disguising your eyes with shades isn’t going to make the situation any better. So how do you rebound from eight weeks of bad returns – you start the new year with two $20 million+ movies at the top of the list. The rest of the month probably won’t be as generous, but it’s a start.

The weekend came down to Little Fockers and True Grit. The latest, and hopefully last, entry in the Meet the Parents saga, Fockers had a drop in attendance of more than 20%, but the Coen brothers’ Grit saw little drop-off (only 1.4%) and held steady. In its first twelve days the western has amassed a total of $87 million. Numbers like this are a good sign that the western is still prevalent in America. While I don’t expect a resurgence, with each studio releasing a western a year, it’s good that there’s a place for such genres in the marketplace.

Still limping around theaters is Disney’s Tron: Legacy. The $170 million picture – plus another hundred or so million for advertising – is grateful that another feature hasn’t come along to steal its audience of teenage boys, the cast of The Big Bang Theory, Troy and Abed of Community and anyone else who is old enough to remember the original Tron. The feature is a dud when talking dollars and cents, because it won’t do enough to be a hit domestically and it can’t do enough internationally to make up the difference. So much for trying to be in like Flynn.

Yogi Bear and Gulliver’s Travels presence in the top ten are both vomit inducing, and again shows just how bad kiddie flicks sucked this fall/winter. The lone exception may be Disney’s spin on the Rapunzel tale, Tangled, which is approaching $300 million worldwide. Execs in the Mouse House would be giving each other high fives had the budget not been $260 million – that’s on account of a production stoppage and creative’s decision to start again from scratch.

Thanks to foreign grosses, Fox’s leftovers of the Chronicles of Narnia series, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, may have another return trip to Narnia – in 3D, I suppose.

Turning to the films you need to see before the Oscars arrive, The Fighter stands its ground as it approaches $50 million. Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan continues to deliver the goods in less than 2,000 theaters. It, too, is nearing $50 million. And playing on just 700 screens, The King’s Speech just edges into the top 10 with a steady per-screen average of $10k.

Two new indies entered the marketplace this past weekend. Blue Valentine opened to $180k on only four screens, and Mike Leigh’s Another Year, with a standout performance by Lesley Manville, debuted on six screens to $120k. Gwyneth Paltrow keeps singing about being Country Strong in two honkeytonk-sized theaters, before going national next weekend. Sylvain Chomet‘s The Illusionist had a healthy per-screen average of $17k and earned $50.8k at three locations as a result.

And if anyone is wondering about The Social Network, it is still a top twenty film (currently in 16th position) and has not finished lower than the twentieth spot since its October 1st release.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. Little Fockers – $26.3 million ($103 mil. overall)
2. True Grit – $24.5 million ($87 mil. overall)
3. Tron Legacy – $18.3 million ($131 mil. overall)
4. Yogi Bear – $13 million ($66 mil. overall)
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – $10.5 million ($87 mil. overall)
6. Tangled – $10 million ($168 mil. overall)
7. The Fighter – $10 million ($46 mil. overall)
8. Gulliver’s Travels – $9.1 million ($27 mil. overall)
9. Black Swan – $8.5 million ($47 mil. overall)
10. The King’s Speech – $7.6 million ($23 mil. overall)

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