'A Christmas Carol' Spreads Holiday Cheer In The Sunday Box Office Report

DESC1. "A Christmas Carol" ($31 million)

2. "Michael Jackson's This Is It" ($14 million)

3. "The Men Who Stare At Goats" ($13.3 million)

2. "The Fourth Kind" ($12.5 million)

5. "Paranormal Activity" ($8.6 million)

Did Ebenezer Scrooge learn his lesson at the box office this weekend? It's difficult to say, as the Jim Carrey-starring "A Christmas Carol" certainly took the top prize with a $31 million weekend, though the result is considered relatively disappointing given the film's potential draw to family crowds and its hefty budget of $200 million. The odds of the holiday movie recouping that number anytime soon are rather small, though we've certainly seen stranger box office occurrences lately.

It was a veritable game of musical chairs for the rest of the box office top five. "Michael Jackson's This Is It" came behind from a fourth place finish on Friday to second place by weekend's end with $14 million, thanks in large to an excellent Saturday and Sunday performance. As a result, Friday's second place finisher "The Fourth Kind" wound up in Jackson's former fourth place slot with $12.5 million. "The Men Who Stare At Goats" and "Paranormal Activity," meanwhile, held their established positions of third and fifth place with $13.3 million and $8.6 million, respectively.

While the residual Halloween thrills helped catapult "The Fourth Kind" into the top five, the same can't be said for "The Box." The Richard Kelly-directed flick wound up just on the outskirts of the elite five with a $7.9 million sixth place finish, despite star power in the form of Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella. Still, "The Box" boasts a modest $25 million budget, so earning that investment back shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge.

The weekend's real success story, however, is "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." Lionsgate's low budget film, featuring performances from Mo'Nique and Mariah Carey, earned $1.8 million despite debuting in only 18 theaters, yielding a per screen average of $100,000. Keep in mind that "Paranormal Activity" opened to $77,873 over 12 theaters in its first weekend, and we all know how that story turned out. With a wider release, it's very possible that "Precious" could wind up with similar — albeit less spooky — results.

Did you spend time in theaters this weekend? What did you see? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter!