At $8.4M, ‘True Grit’ Grinds to a Solid No. 1 at the New Year’s Eve Box Office

Many moviegoers were out sipping champagne, but the Coen brothers’ Western and Universal comedy “Little Fockers” ($7.8M) enjoyed relatively strong performances

Last Updated: January 1, 2011 @ 11:16 AM

Saturday update:

Paramount's Coen Bros.-directed Western "True Grit" enjoyed a solid Friday New Year's Eve at the domestic box office, leading all comers with $8.4 million, according to studio estimates.

Universal franchise comedy "Little Fockers" finished second with an also-strong $7.8 million.

Both films were up significantly week-to-week over their Friday Christmas Eve performances, with "True Grit" spiking 75 percent and "Fockers" increasing its gross by 57 percent.

So what can you tell about these performances on a Friday in which many moviegoers are out gulping champagne?

For what it's worth, the last time New Year's Eve fell on a Friday, Universal's "Meet the Fockers" grossed a similar $8.8 million on the way to a solid $41.7 million week No. 2 performance.

Despite missing lofty $60 million-opening predictions, "Little Fockers" should surpass $100 million by the end of the weekend. "True Grit," meanwhile, has already surpassed $80 million in domestic revenue.

As usual, no big movies opened wide on the New Year's weekend, but a handful of awards-aspiring adult dramas, including Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams romantic tragedy "Blue Valentine, made limited debuts earlier in the week.

Here's how the top 10 finished Friday:

"True Grit" ($8.4m)
"Little Fockers" ($7.8m)
"Tron Legacy" ($5.1m)
"Yogi Bear" ($4.1m)
"Narnia 3" ($3.5m)
"Tangled" ($3.4m)
"Gulliver's Travels" ($3.0m)
"Black Swan" ($2.7m)
"The Fighter" ($2.5m)
"The King's Speech" ($2.5m)

Thursday preview:

After a flurry of big-budget releases in December, studio distribution engines will grind to a halt for a New Year's weekend that typically yields low overall box-office grosses.

No film will debut wide this weekend, but several arthouse movies made limited premieres Wednesday with an eye towards 2010 awards consideration.

That bounty includes The Weinstein Company's "Blue Valentine," which features Golden Globe-nominated performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, playing a couple on the brink of divorce.

"Blue Valentine" arrived in four big-city theaters on Wednesday, grossing $47,877 through Thursday.

Also opening Wednesday in very limited release was the Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu-directed "Biutiful" — which stars Javier Bardem as a dying man — and the Peter Weir-directed, Soviet Gulag-themed "The Way Back," which stars Ed Harris and Colin Ferrell.

Sony Classics' Mike Leigh-directed drama "Another Year" will also open in six locations.

With Weinstein's success in getting the Motion Picture Association of America to overturn "Blue Valentine's" initial NC-17 rating, the now-R-rated relationship drama received a fair share of pre-release publicity. That said, with Rotten Tomatoes scoring the film at 94 percent, the movie is also arriving with a healthy amount of critical acclaim — and those nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 

The Roadside Attractions-distributed "Biutiful," meanwhile, is also receiving awards heat, getting a Globe nomination for best foreign film. It's set to open wide in late-January.

While the weekend occurring on or just before New Year's typically experiences a big week-to-week drop from the Christmas weekend, there is some counter-intuitive precedent to suggest this weekend won't be such of a downer.

In terms of big movies, Universal's "Little Fockers" will likely lead the box office after grossing $30.8 million last weekend. Other holdovers, including Paramount's Coen Bros. Western "True Grit" and Disney's "Tron," will also seek to make a dent.

In 2004, which was the last time New Year's Eve fell on a Friday, the box office was actually up 4.4 percent overall from the Christmas weekend before it. In fact, at $123.8 million, New Year's weekend 2004 was bigger than any weekend that December.

Meanwhile, the movie that led that frame was the last "Meet the Parents" installment, "Meet the Fockers," which saw its ticket sales decline less than 10 percent from its premiere a week prior.

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