By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 2, 2011 at 6:22AM
The box office continued tepid during what should have been a robust holiday period with North American families on vacation; it was down 26 percent from last year. For the year, the 2010 3-D-pumped domestic box office totaled $10.5 billion, down 0.3 percent from 2009's Avatar-inflated record of $10.6 billion. But the attendance stat provides a sobering reality check: attendance was down a whopping 5 percent: 1.34 billion against 1.41 billion in 2009.
It didn't help that no studio released a blockbuster for the 2010 holiday season. This left the field wide open for mainstream crowd pleasers Little Fockers and True Grit. The two pictures duked it out in their second weekend, with Universal/Relativity's Fockers emerging slightly ahead of Paramount's Grit with $26.3 million over $24.5 million, respectively, although the Jeff Bridges western edged ahead of Fockers as the highest-grosser on the last day of 2010.
The Coens' well-reviewed Grit marks a model of success, as it cost $38 million, while Universal's $100-million-plus Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro comedy sequel came out behind industry expectations, even though it passed $100 million in 12 days and should score $300 million worldwide.
On the other hand, the Coens delivered by far their most commercially successful performer to date. With an estimated $86.7 million total gross since it opened on December 22, Grit has easily outpaced the Coens' Oscar-winner No Country For Old Men, which earned $74.2 million.
Paramount is all grins as the studio is not only releasing Fockers internationally, but the holiday box office also smiled on their expansion of David O. Russell's Relativity-financed $25 million The Fighter, which improved its gross over the prior weekend, and has earned an estimated $46.3 million so far. Both Grit and Fighter will gain valuable box office momentum during the upcoming awards season. So will specialty Oscar contenders Black Swan and The King's Speech, which broadened successfully to place the top ten, while Blue Valentine and Another Year pulled strong numbers in limited release. (Full story at indieWIRE.)
Disney's $150-million-plus sci-fi fantasy Tron: Legacy is not the comeback phenom that the studio was banking on. Placing third in the holiday sweepstakes with $18.3 million, its worldwide gross is just $240 million worldwide. The picture will barely make back its negative and marketing costs.
Per usual, family films such as Tangled and Yogi Bear got a holiday boost of 56% and 66%, respectively.
Going into the new year, things are not expected to look up with the wide release of Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle Country Strong or Nic Cage in Season of the Witch.
Top Ten Box Office Chart:
1. Little Fockers (Universal): $26.3 million in its second weekend at 3554 theaters. $7400 theater average. Domestic total: $103.2 million.
2. True Grit (Paramount): $24.5 million in its second weekend at 3083 theaters. $7947 theater average. Domestic total: $86.7 million.
3. Tron:Legacy (Disney): $18.3 million in its third weekend at 3365 theaters. $5440 theater average. Domestic total: $130.8 million.
4. Yogi Bear (Warner Bros.): $13 million in its third weekend at 3515 theaters. $3698 theater average. Domestic total: $66 million.
5. Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Fox): $10.5 million in its fourth weekend at 2948 theaters. $3562 theater average. Domestic total: $87 million.
6. Tangled (Disney): $10 million in its sixth weekend at 2582 theaters. $3876 theater average. Domestic total: $168 million.
7. The Fighter (Paramount): $10 million in its fourth weekend in 2534 theaters. $3946 theater average. Domestic total: $46.3 million.
8. Gulliver's Travels (Fox): $9.1 million in its second weekend in 3089 theaters. $2946 theater average. Domestic total: $27 million.
9. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight): $8.4 million in its fifth weekend in 1553 theaters. $5441 theater average. Domestic total: $47.4 million.
10. The King's Speech (The Weinstein Co.): $7.6 million in its sixth weekend in 700 theaters. $10,927 theater average. Domestic total: $22.8 million.