LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The newest "Twilight" vampire movie ruled the domestic box office for a third time with $16.9 million in ticket sales over one of the slowest movie-going weekends of the year, studio estimates released on Sunday showed.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1" from independent studio Summit Entertainment beat a pack of family films at U.S. and Canadian theaters. The fourth and second-to-last film in one of Hollywood's most lucrative franchises added $40.2 million at international locations.
After three weekends in theaters, "Breaking Dawn" has soaked up $588.3 million in global ticket sales.
The "Twilight" movies are based on best-selling novels by Stephenie Meyer about a human-vampire-werewolf love triangle.
The third domestic win in a row for "Breaking Dawn" came during the post-Thanksgiving weekend, typically one of the bleakest of the year at movie theaters following big releases a week earlier.
This year, total U.S. and Canadian ticket sales rang up at an estimated $82 million for the weekend, making it the year's second slowest, according to Hollywood.com Box Office. Overall sales only slightly edged the $81.5 million take from the September 9 weekend that followed Labor Day.
With no new films released nationwide, sales also slumped 4.8 percent below the same weekend last year.
After "Breaking Dawn," the rest of the weekend's top five belonged to family fare.
Disney's "The Muppets" starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams alongside Kermit, Miss Piggy and their puppet friends, rang up $11.2 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters. The movie represents a comeback for the Muppet characters, last seen in movie theaters in 1999. Worldwide sales for the new film have reached $60.1 million through Sunday.
"Hugo," a 3D family movie about an orphaned boy who lives in a 1930s Paris train station, moved up to third place from its fifth place finish last weekend after expanding to more theaters. The film pulled in $7.6 million domestically, bringing its total after two weekends to $25.2 million.
Animated 3D movie "Arthur Christmas," which explains how Santa delivers presents around the world in one night, pulled in $7.4 million domestically to finish in fourth place. To date, the movie has brought in $70.6 million worldwide.
In fifth place, dancing penguin sequel "Happy Feet Two" earned $6.0 million at domestic theaters. Total global sales reached $85.8 million after three weekends of release.
Walt Disney Co released "The Muppets." Privately held Summit Entertainment released "Breaking Dawn - Part 1." "Arthur Christmas" was distributed by Sony, and Hugo was released by Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc.. Time Warner unit Warner Bros. distributed "Happy Feet Two."
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Sandra Maler)
Corrects spelling of Meyer's first name to Stephenie from Stephanie in 3rd paragraph