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'Breaking Dawn' is no. 1 for third week in a row with $16.9 mil

By John Young, EW.com
December 5, 2011 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" held on to first, dropping 60 percent for $16.9 million, according to studio estimates.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" is still trailing the past two Twilight movies
  • "The Muppets" was the runner-up, plunging a sharp 62 percent
  • Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," a 3-D love letter to silent cinema, slipped 33 percent

(EW.com) -- For the first time, a "Twilight" movie has ruled the box office for three weeks in a row.

During what was one of the slowest weekends of the year, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" held on to first, dropping 60 percent for $16.9 million, according to studio estimates.

That's a smaller decline than what "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" experienced during the same weekend two years ago -- it fell 64 percent. Nevertheless, "Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" is still trailing the past two Twilight movies. The fourth entry in the romantic supernatural series has so far grossed a stellar $247.3 million in 17 days. By comparison, "New Moon" had earned $255.4 million by this point, while "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" had collected $255.8 million. This will ultimately be a moot point when "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" comes out next November and likely destroys all of the franchise's records.

Disney's "The Muppets" was the runner-up, plunging a sharp 62 percent -- more than any other wide release -- for a weekend tally of $11.2 million. It's too early to sound the alarm, especially since the movie has already grossed $56.1 million on its $45 million budget. And "The Muppets" will likely bounce back with a better hold next week. But it is surprising that a PG-rated family film with such endearing reviews and an "A" rating from CinemaScore graders would drop so much.

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One possible explanation is that after all the activities and shopping of Thanksgiving weekend, many families opted to take it easy this week. It's worth noting that such Thanksgiving releases as 2007′s "Enchanted" and last year's "Tangled" fell 52 percent and 56 percent, respectively, during their sophomore frames. But "Hugo," "Arthur Christmas," "Happy Feet Two," and "Puss in Boots" all had smaller drops than "The Muppets," so there might be something else at play here.

Perhaps the film's solid $29.2 million opening weekend was driven more by nostalgic adults than by family audiences. (Disney reported that 65 percent of the picture's audience was over the age of 18.) If that's the case, then those muppety adults all rushed out to see "The Muppets" last week, thereby leaving the film somewhat front-loaded. Disney would be wise to release Miss Piggy out into the world to intimidate encourage more families to see the movie.

The rest of the top five was occupied by other family films. Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," a 3-D love letter to silent cinema, slipped 33 percent for $7.6 million. The movie's small decline can be partly attributed to the fact that it added more than 500 theaters this weekend. "Hugo" has so far taken in $25.2 million on a budget that's reportedly at least $150 million. In fourth place, Sony's "Arthur Christmas" declined only 39 percent for $7.4 million. The well-reviewed holiday comedy should continue to hold up well as we approach Christmas Day. And "Happy Feet Two" rounded out the top five by diving 55 percent for $6 million.

In limited release, the George Clooney dramedy "The Descendants" once again posted impressive numbers, grossing $5.2 million from 574 theaters. Fox Searchlight will expand the Oscar hopeful to 850 theaters on Friday. The silent film "The Artist" also continued to make some noise with $206,000 from six locations. And, finally, the NC-17 drama "Shame," about a New York sex addict (Michael Fassbender), debuted to a superb $361,000 at 10 theaters. The film may have trouble adding theaters beyond metropolitan areas because of its taboo rating.

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 -- $16.9 mil

2. The Muppets -- $11.2 mil

3. Hugo -- $7.6 mil

4. Arthur Christmas -- $7.4 mil

5. Happy Feet Two -- $6.0 mil

See the full article at EW.com.

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