Summit's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 remained comfortably in first place over the weekend with $16.54 million. The blockbuster fantasy sequel has now led the weekend box office for three consecutive frames (the last film to achieve that feat was Disney's The Help). Breaking Dawn - Part 1 fell 60 percent from last weekend's three-day frame. In comparison, 2009's New Moon fell 64 percent to gross $15.43 million in its third weekend. Thanks to stronger early holding power than that of New Moon, Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (with a 17-day total of $246.93 million) is now running just 3 percent behind the $255.36 17-day total of New Moon.
After a very solid debut last weekend, Disney's The Muppets surprisingly lost major momentum this weekend. The franchise re-launch held steady in second with $11.08 million, but was down a sharp 62 percent in the process. With both Paramount's Hugo and Sony's Arthur Christmas holding up much better this weekend, family audiences who rushed out to see The Muppets over Thanksgiving weekend clearly wanted to see one of the other family films in the marketplace instead this weekend. The Muppets has grossed $56.36 million in twelve days, placing it 19.5 percent behind the pace of 2007's Enchanted (which fell 52 percent in its second weekend of release).
As mentioned, Hugo held up very nicely this weekend to finish in third with $7.56 million. The critically acclaimed Martin Scorsese directed 3D film fell 33 percent and was up two spots from last weekend's three-day frame. Both strong word of mouth and expanding into an additional 563 locations helped out Hugo in a big way this weekend. At the same time, with a modest twelve-day start of $25.12 million, Hugo will need to continue to hold up well throughout the holiday season, especially given its expensive price tag.
Surprisingly, this weekend's best hold among family films was arguably that of Arthur Christmas. The 3D computer animated Christmas themed film was down just 39 percent from last weekend to remain in fourth place with $7.40 million. Unlike Hugo, Arthur Christmas didn't have the aid of an expansion this weekend, though with that said it is still playing in far more locations than Hugo is. Arthur Christmas has grossed $25.34 million in twelve days, which places it slightly ahead of the twelve-day start of Hugo.
With Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked arriving on December 16, look for Arthur Christmas, Hugo and The Muppets all to hold up well this coming weekend, before taking a hit from Chipwrecked the following weekend.
Fox Searchlight's The Descendants remained a force in limited release with a seventh place take of $4.79 million. Like Hugo, the Alexander Payne directed film starring George Clooney benefited from the combination of strong word of mouth and a theatre expansion, as the film fell a very respectable 35 percent from last weekend. The Descendants has grossed $17.68 million in 19 days and is set to have a very lengthy box office run as it continues to expand throughout the holiday and awards seasons.
On the platform front, Fox Searchlight's Shame, The Weinstein Company's The Artist and Sony Pictures Classics' A Dangerous Method all posted similarly healthy per-location averages. In its first weekend of release the NC-17 rated Shame grossed $349,519 from 10 locations, giving it a per-location average of $34,952. In their respective second weekends of release, The Artist grossed $211,265 from 6 locations (for a per-location average of $35,211) and A Dangerous Method grossed $119,574 from 4 locations (for a per-location average of $29,894). The Artist has grossed $501,624 in ten days, while A Dangerous Method has grossed $412,937 in twelve days.
Follow @DanielBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional box office updates.