Summit's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 grossed an estimated $42.0 million to remain at the top of the weekend box office with ease. For the five-day holiday frame the fourth installment of the fantasy franchise grossed an estimated $62.3 million. Breaking Dawn fell a sharp, but slightly better than expected 70 percent over the three-day frame. In comparison, 2009's The Twilight Saga: New Moon fell 70 percent in its second weekend to gross $42.87 million. Breaking Dawn - Part 1 has grossed a massive $221.30 million after ten days of release, placing the film 4 percent behind the $230.95 million ten-day gross of New Moon.
The Muppets easily won the battle between the weekend's three new family films with an estimated second place three-day take of $29.5 million. The well received franchise re-launch from Disney grossed an estimated $42.0 million over the five-day frame. While it had to settle for second place behind Breaking Dawn - Part 1, The Muppets is still off to a very solid start and will hope to hold up well going forward thanks to both strong reviews and early word of mouth. The Muppets debuted 14 percent softer than the $49.06 million five-day Thanksgiving start of the studio's Enchanted back in 2007.
The news was simply brutal for Warner's Happy Feet Two this weekend as the computer animated sequel fell a massive 37 percent to gross an estimated $13.4 million. While Happy Feet Two obviously faced a lot of new direct competition this weekend; that new competition didn't exactly light the box office on fire, making the second weekend hold for Happy Feet Two especially disappointing. In comparison, 2006's Happy Feet fell just 11 percent in its second weekend. Happy Feet Two has grossed $43.77 million in ten days, placing it 56 percent behind the pace of Happy Feet.
It turned out to be an unexpectedly close battle for fourth place between fellow 3D family films Arthur Christmas and Hugo, thanks to the better than expected performance of the Martin Scorsese's Hugo. Sony's Arthur Christmas grossed an estimated $12.7 million over the three-day frame to ultimately outpace Paramount's Hugo, which grossed an estimated $11.35 million. However, in playing in far less locations, Hugo had the far better per-location average of the two ($8,888 for Hugo as opposed to $3,762 for Arthur Christmas). Five-day starts stand at $16.95 million for Arthur Christmas and at $15.38 million for Hugo. With both films carrying very expensive price tags (especially Hugo), they will both need to hold up very well in the weeks ahead and perform well internationally as well.
On the platform front, Fox's Searchlight's The Descendants remained strong with an estimated $7.20 million from 433 locations, while The Weinstein Company's My Week with Marilyn debuted with $1.77 million over the weekend from 244 locations. Three-day per-location averages stood at an impressive $16,628 for The Descendants and at a respectable $7,266 for My Week with Marilyn. Five-day estimates are $9.24 million for The Descendants and $2.08 million for My Week with Marilyn. The Descendants has grossed $10.74 million through nine days of release and looks to remain an especially strong performer throughout the holiday and awards seasons.
In more platform news, The Weinstein Company's The Artist opened with $210,414 from 4 locations in New York and Los Angeles while Sony Pictures Classics' A Dangerous Method finished closely behind with $181,852 from 4 NY/LA locations (the five-day start for A Dangerous Method stands at $240,944). Three-day per-location averages stood at $52,604 for The Artist and at $45,463 for A Dangerous Method. Both awards season hopefuls will look to have lengthy runs as they expand into more locations in the weeks ahead.
Follow @DanielBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional box office updates.