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Weekend Box Office: Breaking Dawn Stays on Top, The Muppets Wins Battle of Family Films

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By Chris Kavan - 11/27/11 at 10:41 PM CT

The long holiday weekend was good news for fans of vampires and fuzzy puppets. It wasn't too bad for fans of art-house films, either.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 blew past the $200 million mark over the weekend. With an estimated $62.3 million the popular franchise now stands at $221.3 million. While its total couldn't match the $66.3 million that New Moon took over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2009, but with no real strong competition until Sherlock Holmes on Dec. 16, it should be able to approach the $300 million mark with little problem.

Settling for the runner-up mark for the weekend, but winning the competition between the trio of family films that opened up, Disney scored a $42 million opening with The Muppets. While it may have been down from previous Thanksgiving titles Tangled ($68.7 million) and Enchanted ($49.1 million), considering The Muppets had been relegated to the dust bin of history, it was a pretty good comeback. It has already passed every previous Muppet film, barring the original Muppet Movie, in terms of gross and its "A" rating means it should enjoy a strong hold-over audience.

Arthur Christmas and Hugo couldn't quite match the success of The Muppets. Arthur Christmas landed in fourth place with $17 million. It's just a so-so debut, with 53% coming from 3D screens. However, as it is a Christmas title, expect it to have a decent December as well. Meanwhile Hugo took fifth place with $15.4 million. Considering it opened in far fewer theaters (1,277) that number is pretty impressive and when it expands, expect the audience to do the same. With marketing emphasizing the 3D aspect, 75% of grosses came from those screens.

Rounding out the top five, Happy Feet Two slid to third place with $18.4 million - down 14%. It has earned $44.8 million to this point - less than half the $99.3 million the original Happy Feet had at the same point in its run.

Fans came out to support more high-brow fare over the weekend as well. With an expansion to 422 theaters, Alexander Payne's The Descendants took in $9.4 million to say in 10th place. We'll see how it does as it expands nation-wide in the coming weeks. My Week With Marilyn took in $2.1 million after opening in 123 theaters before bumping up to 244 over the weekend - good enough to place in the top 12. Finally, The Artist opened in four theaters with a $210,000 take - the critical favorite to win big on Oscar night will see some expansion as well, though it remains to be seen whether it can play to anyone but the art-house crowd.

Next week the only two movies of note are the NC-17-rated Shame - which may have trouble overcoming the stigma of the rarely-given rating, and Luc Besson's political drama The Lady combining activism with human connection. I don't expect the top five to change much based on the lack of competition.


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