"New Year's Eve" was the #1 movie over the weekend but had little else to celebrate. The ensemble comedy opened to a soft $13.7 million during what turned out to be the weakest weekend at the box office all year. Jonah Hill's R-rated comedy "The Sitter" debuted at #2 with just $10 million, with both films suffering from overwhelmingly poor reviews from critics.
Director Garry Marshall's non-sequel follow-up to the similarly ensemble-led "Valentine's Day" was off by 75 percent from that film's $56.3 million debut last year. Switching locations from Los Angeles to New York (and title holidays, of course), the film otherwise stuck to the formula of intertwined romantic stories played out by a large cast of celebrities and peppered with yet more celebrities in cameo roles.
The 7 percent score for "New Year's Eve" on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, which averages reviews from film critics, is even lower than the 18 percent earned by "Valentine's Day" last February.
"The only entertaining way to watch 'New Year's Eve' is as a cruel experiment in which performers stranded with absolutely no script support are forced to subsist on pure essence, which quickly becomes a blood sport in which only a few survive," NPR's Linda Holmes wrote.
"[P]erfectly bland," Richard Roeper said of the ensemble flick.
The 22 percent score earned by "The Sitter" makes it better-reviewed than either of Marshall's recent flicks but still ranks as "rotten." It's worth noting that some of the negative reviews still praised Hill's efforts in his starring role, despite what they saw as an overall misfire. The film's opening take was less than his previous flicks like "Superbad" (with Michael Cera) and "Get Him to the Greek" (with Russell Brand).
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" spent its first weekend out of the #1 slot, dropping to #3 in its fourth weekend of release with an estimated $7.9 million. The second-to-last chapter in the enormous franchise is now the third-highest-grossing movie of 2011, behind two other sequels, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
Two family-friendly movies rounded out the top five: "The Muppets" with $7.1 million and "Arthur Christmas" with $6.6 million.
In adult drama land, director Alexander Payne's Oscar-buzz flick "The Descendants" expanded nationwide and generated another $4.8 million, coming in at #7 at the box office. Cold War-era espionage slow boiler "Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy" (starring Gary Oldman as a British spy) picked up $301,000 in just four theaters. That's the third-best opening for a film in just four theaters ever, just behind "The Tree of Life" and "The King's Speech." By comparison, Charlize Theron's "Young Adult" averaged $40,000 per screen as it opened in eight locations over the weekend.
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