"Fockers" underwhelms at box office, "Grit" shines

Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:07pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Little Fockers" opened in the top spot at the Christmas holiday weekend box office in North America with weaker-than-expected sales while the Coen brothers' remake of "True Grit" started strongly at No. 2.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, the comedy sequel "Little Fockers" sold just $34 million worth of tickets across the United States and Canada during the three days beginning Friday.

The latest mismatch between Ben Stiller and on-screen father-in-law Robert De Niro has earned $48.3 million since opening on Wednesday. Domestic distributor Universal Pictures said it had hoped for a five-day haul of about $60 million but was confident business would pick up over the holidays.

Exactly six years ago, the first sequel "Meet the Fockers" earned $46 million during its first weekend and $70.5 million in its first five days. In that case, the film also opened on Wednesday and Christmas also fell on a Saturday.

The series kicked off in October 2000, when "Meet the Parents" opened at No. 1 with $28.6 million. It went on to make $166 million and the first sequel ended up with $279 million.

Just 11 percent of the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked the latest installment, according to the review aggregation Web site. Audiences gave the film a modest B-minus rating, according to exit-polling firm CinemaScore. Women accounted

for 57 percent of the audience, Universal said.

"Little Fockers" also earned about $27 million from 37 foreign markets, led by a first-place $7.3 million start in Britain. Universal, a unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal, partnered on the $100 million project with Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures and closely held financier Relativity Media. Paramount is handling foreign distribution.