“Breaking Dawn” Endures at No. 1 in Down Thanksgiving Box Office

Ticket sales down 12 percent from 2010

The “Twilight” vampires sucked up another $62.3 million, “The Muppets” reemerged on the big screen with a strong $42 million, and a slew of quality films vied for moviegoers’ attention this weekend.

Yet overall box office ticket sales were down 12 percent this Thanksgiving from the same five-day period in 2010.

What happened? The deep slate of family films from “Happy Feet Two” to “Arthur Christmas” to Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” could have splintered the audience – or their failure to do better collectively could signal a tougher, longer-term problem Hollywood has on its hands.

"I was pretty surprised by this. I just thought this was the perfect combination of films in the marketplace," analyst Paul Dergarabedian told The Associated Press. "Maybe there was just too much out there."

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" racked up its domestic total to $221.3 million, and it’s taken in $489.3 million around the world. But if you just look at the regular three-day weekends, it dropped 70 percent from its splashy opening last weekend, EW.com pointed out. And the penultimate movie in the Bella Swan saga is slightly behind where the third entry, “New Moon,” was at the same point in its release.

Richie Fay, the head of distribution for Summit Entertainment, said the series’ audience has changed slightly: “Everybody's grown a little older, and I guess we lose a few of our patrons to age.”

Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang placed second in their first movie in 12 years. Disney distribution exec Dave Hollis said "the entire goal was to bring back the Muppets, and this great opening signifies that we've done just that.”

But “Happy Feet Two” was not so merry in its second weekend with $18.4 million. It was followed at No. 4 by “Arthur Christmas” ($17 million) and “Hugo” ($15.4 million). George Clooney’s “The Descendants” performed strongly in an expanded release, pulling in $9.2 million from just 433 theaters to place tenth.

On the whole, though, the Thanksgiving weekend revenues have slipped from a record $273 million in 2009 to $264 million in 2010 to $234 million this year.

The Hollywood Reporter cited the “glut of family-friendly titles.” But the AP also raised another possibility: that the weekend’s performance despite the good lineup, in an age of varied electronic entertainment, could mean that Hollywood might have to accept “diminished expectations.”

Selected Reading: AP, EW, The Hollywood Reporter

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