‘Disney’s A Christmas Carol Sings To The Top Of The Saturday Box Office

1. “A Christmas Carol” ($8.9 million)
2. “The Fourth Kind” ($5 million)
3. “The Men Who Stare At Goats” ($4.6 million)
4. “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” ($4.1 million)
5. “Paranormal Activity” ($2.8 million)

The opening day for Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” wasn’t exactly worthy of a “bah humbug” reaction, though the folks at Disney might be lacking some Christmas spirit this morning. The 3-D holiday film, which stars Jim Carrey as the infamous grouch Ebenezer Scrooge and a whole slew of other characters, opened to $8.9 million on Friday with a projected $31 million weekend, according to Deadline Hollywood Daily’s Nikki Finke.

“Poor reviews coupled with the ’too dark for kids’ attitude may really be hurting the opening,” a rival studio executive told Finke about the holiday picture, which was initially expected to earn as much as $40 million this weekend. “Throw that in with the possibility that they just might be a bit too early with the Christmas theme, and you have the possibility of a really lackluster debut for an expensive movie.”

While audiences aren’t latching onto the preemptive holiday cheer as much as Disney executives had hoped, other studios are enjoying the aftermath of last weekend’s Halloween. The Milla Jovovich-starring “The Fourth Kind” earned the second place spot on Friday with a $5 million intake, which could be the result of its similarities to the supernaturally successful “Paranormal Activity.” But given “The Fourth Kind’s” debut weekend in just over 2,500 theaters, I wouldn’t expect this thriller will come close to the increasingly popular “Paranormal Activity,” which ended Friday night in fifth place.

Moviegoers not only rejected the early Christmas spirit, but also the allure of Hollywood star power. Despite a star-studded cast including George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey, “The Men Who Stare At Goats” only opened to $4.6 million on Friday for a third place finish. Deadline Hollywood estimates that the movie will wind up with $14.5 million by weekend’s end.

“Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” meanwhile, sunk from first place last weekend to fourth place on Friday night with $4.1 million and an expected $14 million weekend. The result isn’t quite as bad when factoring in the international success of “This Is It,” which has earned just over $100 million overseas. Combined with its domestic intake, “This Is It” has yielded almost $150 million thus far. While that’s not quite the $250 million it was projected to make within five days, the Jackson documentary still has time to pick up extra cash thanks to an elongated theatrical run.

Are you surprised by Friday night’s box office rankings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter!