The re-emergence of Kermit and his pals wasn't enough to knock Bella Swan and her new husband off the box-office throne. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" remained the #1 movie in America over the long holiday weekend as the romantic vampires-and-werewolves flick fended off competition from PG-rated newcomers "The Muppets," "Arthur Christmas" and "Hugo."
The second-to-last "Twilight" movie generated an additional $62.3 million from Wednesday to Sunday for an overall domestic total of $221.3 million, according to estimates released by Summit Entertainment. Despite suffering from the same critical drubbing typically inflicted upon "Twilight" movies, "Breaking Dawn" triumphed against a trio of well-reviewed flicks with broad family appeal.
Comedic actor Jason Segel's "Muppets" debuted with $42 million over the five-day period. The celebrity-cameo-filled revival of the beloved television and movie franchise opened much more strongly than previous Muppet movies. Even with adjustments for ticket-price inflation, the newest "Muppets" overtook 1996's "Muppet Treasure Island," the previous series' strongest box-office debut. The reboot of sorts was a labor of love for co-writer and star Segel, who made his adoration for felt puppets clear in 2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
"Happy Feet 2" was the #3 movie over the weekend. But with a production budget nearly triple that of "The Muppets," the animated sequel's $44 million gross ($18.5 million of which was collected over the weekend) couldn't keep the Australian digital production facility that worked on the movie from laying off 600 of its 700 employees, according to a report from Australian film news site if.com.au.
"Arthur Christmas" opened far behind "The Muppets" at #4 with just $17 million. The 3-D movie, from the British animation house behind "Wallace & Gromit," cost Sony Pictures an estimated $100 million to produce. Aardman Animations' "Flushed Away" and "Chicken Run" earned more in their respective three-day opening weekends than the five-day total for their latest movie.
Despite playing on 2,000 fewer screens than "Arthur Christmas," Martin Scorsese's live-action 3-D love letter to classic cinema, "Hugo," was #5 with $15.4 million. The filmmaker best known for violent adult dramas like "Goodfellas" based his first foray into family fare on the popular children's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." Roughly 75 percent of the film's grosses were reportedly from pricier 3-D screenings, according to Paramount. "Hugo" played at 1277 venues and is scheduled to expand to 2000 on December 9.
The weekend wasn't without Oscar-bait dramas for adults. The Weinstein Company's "My Week With Marilyn" made $2 million in 244 theaters while the company's black-and-white silent film, "The Artist," made $210,000 in just four New York and Los Angeles theaters.
The box office was down 12 percent overall from the same period last year, when "Tangled" was new in theaters against a "Harry Potter" movie and "MegaMind." "Tangled" was #1 with $68.7 million compared to the $62.3 million made by "Breaking Dawn."
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