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'Little Fockers' leads the Christmas box office

5:13 PM, Dec 26, 2010   |    comments
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Susan Kelly, USA TODAY

Gaylord Focker may have problems with his father-in-law, but moviegoers love the whole dysfunctional family.

Little Fockers led the box office over the three-day Christmas weekend, taking in a healthy $34 million, according to studio estimates.

The family comedy that pits Ben Stiller's Focker against his wife's dad, played by Robert De Niro, began with Meet the Parents in 2000 and continued with Meet the Fockers in 2004. Those two films have collected nearly $850 million worldwide.

Eddie Egan, president of marketing for distributor Universal, said Little Fockers saw a 188% audience jump from Christmas Eve (typically a slow movie day as many Americans travel) to Christmas Day. He said 53% of the audience was under age 30.

True Grit, Joel and Ethan Coen's version of the 1968 Charles Portis novel about a 14-year-old girl who hires a drunken U.S. marshal to track down her father's killer, also did well this holiday weekend, earning $25.6 million. A good showing at the box office could build Oscar momentum for the signature Coen brothers film, with its darkly comic overtones.

Coming in third was TRON: Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi cult favorite TRON. It earned $20.1 million, for a total of $88.3 million since its Dec. 17 release.

Jeff Bridges is the star of the weekend, with major roles in two of the top five movies. He plays the irascible Marshal Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. John Wayne won an Oscar for his performance as Cogburn in the 1969 version. Bridges also plays the game designer who has existed in cyberspace for all these years in TRON: Legacy. He originated that role in the first TRON.

In fourth place was the latest installment in the fantasy epic The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with $10.8 million. In fifth place was the animated Yogi Bear with $8.8 million. Mark Wahlberg's boxing tale The Fighter was on Yogi's heels with $8.5 million.

Opening Christmas Day was Gulliver's Travels, the latest incarnation of the Jonathan Swift 18th-century classic about a man shipwrecked on an island inhabited by tiny people. The Jack Black film has made $7.2 million.

David Glassman of the Weinstein Company said The King's Speech benefited from its many Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations earlier this month. The film expanded to 700 theaters on Christmas Day, taking in $4.6 million over the holiday weekend.

Last year, the Christmas holiday brought the highest-grossing weekend ever - $270 million - thanks to the combination of Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Final figures for this holiday weekend are due Monday.

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