It was closely followed by Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon’s western, True Grit, which was number two for the second straight weekend with US$24.5 million.
Little Fockers, released by Universal, raised its domestic haul to US$103.2 million. Paramount’s True Grit lifted its total to US$86.8 million, becoming the top-grossing film ever from directors Joel and Ethan Coen, whose previous best was US$74.3 million for No Country for Old Men.
With no new wide releases out over New Year’s weekend, the Hollywood top 10 lined up largely the same as it did over the Christmas holiday.
Bridges also had the number-three film with Disney’s sci-fi sequel Tron: Legacy at US$18.3 million, while Dan Aykroyd’s family flick Yogi Bear, from Warner Bros, was fourth with US$13 million.
After a sluggish fall and holiday season, Hollywood is off to a slow start in 2011. Overall revenues came in at US$158 million, down 28 per cent from New Year’s weekend a year ago, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
The holiday season in 2009 was unusually strong, largely because of James Cameron’s Avatar, which was on its way to becoming the biggest modern blockbuster with US$2.8 billion worldwide.
A year ago, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel also held up well over New Year’s weekend.
“What made the difference last year was just that incredible combination of films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Hollywood.com box-office analyst.
“That said, I think 2011 is going to be a huge year. If you look at the titles, I think we’re going to get our box-office strength back.”
The final Harry Potter film is among Hollywood’s offerings this year, along with the latest in the Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, Twilight, Cars, Kung Fu Panda, X-Men and The Hangover franchises.
Little Fockers has done good business despite bad reviews for the third instalment in De Niro and Stiller’s Meet the Parents franchise.
“I’m sorry the business isn’t better for the industry overall, but having said that, it doesn’t make a difference for us. We were the number-one film for the holidays,” said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. “Considering it’s the third time around, not so bad.”
True Grit is a rare-hit western – once a Hollywood staple but a genre that has all but vanished. Industry insiders had been sceptical about the film’s prospects, especially since the 1969 version of True Grit was one of John Wayne’s best-known roles from late in his career, earning him the best-actor Academy Award.
But the Coens never considered their version a remake. They did a faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel, the source for both movies, and the Coens’ version has earned terrific reviews.
“They acted like there’d never been another movie made, that this was the first. You’ve got to give them credit. It’s a stunning achievement,” said Don Harris, executive vice president of distribution at Paramount.
While this season’s top hits failed to measure up to Avatar and other 2009 holiday blockbusters, smaller Oscar contenders continued to score in the top-10.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at United States and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures were to be released today.