Box Office: Soft $5.1M Friday for ‘Fockers'; ‘True Grit’ Truly Good at $4.8M

Universal family comedy pacing below $50M for the five-day holiday, while Paramount Western over-performing and on a $40M pace

Last Updated: December 25, 2010 @ 9:08 AM

Saturday update:

Part three of Universal's "Meet the Parents" family-comedy franchise, "Little Fockers," continues to underperform on hit-level tracking pre-release projections, bringing in $5.1 million Friday, according to studio estimates.

The Ben Stiller/Robert DeNiro comedy — predicted by its studio to bring in over $60 million over the five-day holiday accounting period — now looks like it will open to under $50 million.

Budgeted at $100 million, the movie will still be plenty profitable for Universal and co-producers Paramount and Relativity, but it doesn't look like it will be as big as 2004's "Meet the Fockers."

In second place, Paramount's Coen Bros. Western remake "True Grit" is over-performing, brining in an estimated $4.8 million Friday. Conservatively projected to gross in the $20 million-plus range by its studio, the $38 million Jeff Bridges/Matt Damon movie now looks like it could take in as much as $40 million over the five-day holiday.

Fox's soft-tracking Jack Black comedy "Gulliver's Travels" is set to open on Saturday.

Here's a look at Friday's top 10:

"Little Fockers" ($5.1m)
"True Grit" ($4.8 m)
Tron" $4.0
"Narnia 3" ($2.2m)
"Yogi Bear" ($2.1m)
"Tangled" ($1.8m)
"The Fighter" ($1.3m)
"Black Swan" ($1.1m)
"The Tourist" (875k)
"Potter 7" (705k)

Friday update:

Universal comedy "Meet the Fockers" continued to endure an underwhelming opening at the domestic box office, grossing an estimated $7.1 million on Thursday.

Part three of the Robert DeNiro/Ben Stiller family-comedy franchise has grossed $14.3 million after three days — a flop by no means, but off the pace from hit-level predictions of $60 million for the five-day holiday period.

Disney's "Tron Legacy" continues to hold strong in its first full week, grossing an estimated $5.6 million Thursday, while Paramount Coen Bros. Western "True Grit" tallied $5.5 million and has grossed an solid $11.2 million after two days.

Thursday update:

Universal's "Meet the Fockers" opened to an estimated $7.2 million Wednesday, putting the Ben Stiller/Robert DeNiro comedy off pace to meet studio projections of around $60 million.

Paramount Western "True Grit," meanwhile, had a strong start, grossing an estimated $5.5 million Wednesday.

Tuesday preview:

Universal will certainly be celebrating the birth of a child this Christmas.

Premiering Wednesday in 3,536 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, part three of the studio's 10-year-old "Meet the Parents" franchise — which features Ben Stiller's oft-maligned Greg Focker moving on into fatherhood — is set to lead the box office, grossing $60 million-$70 million over the five-day holiday weekend, according to pre-release tracking reports.

Paramount's Coen Brothers Western "True Grit" will also make its debut Wednesday, arriving in 3,047 North American theaters, and projected to gross more than $20 million over the five-day period.

Fox, meanwhile, will premiere the soft-tracking Jack Black comedy "Gulliver's Travels" at more than 2,400 domestic locales on Saturday, Christmas Day, with pre-release estimates projecting the $115 million film not to even crack the $10 million barrier through Sunday night.

"'Fockers' is going to benefit from the fact that there are so many bad movies in the marketplace," said one rival-studio executive.

Directed by Paul Weitz, who steps in for parts 1 and 2 director Jay Roach, "Little Fockers" has taken a beating from the critics who've seen it so far, evidenced by the 9 percent "fresh" rating it had scored from Rotten Tomatoes as of late-afternoon Tuesday.

Budgeted at $100 million, however, Universal is expecting to end the year on a profitable note with the movie, which is co-owned by Paramount and Relativity.

The two previous "Fockers" films have performed well in the foreign market, too, grossing over $400 million internationally between them.

A remake of a 1969 John Wayne film, "True Grit" arrives with a $38 million production budget, as well as Oscar buzz for stars Jeff Bridges and 13-year-old revelation Hailee Steinfeld. The film is currently scoring a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

"I think this is going to work in Middle America and the South, places where Coen Brothers movies don't always play," noted Paramount distribution G.M. Don Harris. "This should stand out as one of the great Westerns of all time."

Meanwhile, with Jason Segal, Emily Blunt and Amanda Peet co-starring alongside Black, Fox executives are quietly bracing for a tough weekend on "Gulliver's Travels."

They don't believe, however, it will be as bad as last weekend's cratering of Sony's James L. Brooks-directed "How Do You Know," a $100 million-plus ensemble comedy that debuted to just $7.5 milion.

Among limited openings of awards-striving adult dramas, Focus will release Sophia Coppola’s "Somehwere" in seven big-city theaters on Wednesday.

Also, The Weinstein Company will expand Oscar favorite "The King’s Speech" to around 600 theaters on Christmas Day.