‘A Christmas Carol’ Defeats ‘This Is It’ At Box Office

Michael Jackson documentary moonwalks into second place behind big-budget retelling of classic Christmas story.

Box-Office Top Five

#1 [movie id="356080"]“A Christmas Carol”[/movie] ($31 million)
#2 [movie id="434956"]“Michael Jackson’s This Is It”[/movie] ($14 million)
#3 [movie id="408557"]“The Men Who Stare at Goats”[/movie] ($13.3 million)
#4 [movie id="431440"]“The Fourth Kind”[/movie] ($12.5 million)
#5 [movie id="369646"]“Paranormal Activity”[/movie] ($8.6 million)

Despite the first-place finish of Robert Zemeckis’s 3-D representation of “A Christmas Carol,” yuletide cheer seemed halfhearted at the weekend box office. Given Jim Carrey’s star power, the movie’s $200 million budget and the potential family-crowd draw, the $31 million debut from “A Christmas Carol” is a disappointing result for the Disney version of the Charles Dickens classic.

Second place went to “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” which earned less than half as much as the first-place finisher. Winding down Friday evening in fourth place, “This Is It” wound up in the #2 slot thanks to a particularly strong Saturday performance. While the Jackson documentary hasn’t performed as well in the United States as many initially expected, the combined worldwide intake of almost $200 million — not to mention the limited engagement’s elongated stay in theaters — suggests that “This Is It” could stay afloat for the next couple of weeks.

Newcomers “The Men Who Stare at Goats” and “The Fourth Kind” earned third and fourth place finishes at $13.3 million and $12.5 million, respectively. Both movies were produced on modest budgets — particularly “Goats,” given the participation of A-list actors George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges — and should have little difficulty breaking even. It would be easy to attribute the success of “The Fourth Kind” to “Paranormal Activity,” the similarly premised horror film that finished the weekend in fifth place, but the Milla Jovovich-starring thriller boasted a notable viral marketing campaign of its own.

“The Box,” director Richard Kelly’s debuting thriller, couldn’t quite crack the top five even with actress Cameron Diaz in the lead role. The movie landed in sixth place with $7.9 million. Also new this weekend was “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” which earned $1.8 million in only 18 theaters for a very impressive per screen average of $100,000.

Upcoming Releases

Roland Emmerich’s “2012″ comes roaring into more than 3,000 theaters next weekend, and “Pirate Radio,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the animated “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” will both try their luck with limited releases.

Check out everything we’ve got on “A Christmas Carol” and “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”

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Likes pizza, punch and pie. Dislikes the Chitauri.
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