Box Office: Family fare falters as ‘Breaking Dawn’ takes Thanksgiving

Can you ever have too many family films at the multiplex?  Thanksgiving 2011 is turning out to be a perfect case study for distributors eager to maximize their returns.  With “The Muppets,” “Hugo,” “Arthur Christmas” and “Happy Feet Two” all hitting theaters within a week of each other there obviously isn’t enough hours or dollars for everyone to come away happy. Benefiting from this kid flick confusion for another day is “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1.”

The fourth installment in the Summit franchise made another $7.8 million for $179 million in seven days.  That’s $9 million behind where the last “Twilight” November player, “New Moon,” was two years ago.  At this point, “Breaking Dawn” should still find a stellar $215 million by end of day Sunday.

Hanging tough in second place, but down a scant 10% was “The Muppets” $5.9 million and $12.5 million in two days. The Walt Disney production has received stellar reviews and only cost $35 million, but needs an uptick over the three-day weekend to justify the hype.  Right now, Kermit the Frong and the gang should bring in $40-42 million over the holiday frame.

Bucking the “family film” trend on Thanksgiving was Martin Scorsese’s critically lauded “Hugo.”  Playing in only 1,200 theaters, “Hugo” was actually up 41% for another $2.3 million and $4 million to date.  Weekend theater polling will indicate more on Sunday, but it’s likely the film is playing more to adults than the expected “family” audience.

“Happy Feet Two” slid to fourth with another $2 million and just $30 million since debuting a week ago.  Unless international markets turn things around there Warner Bros. won’t be dancing about the loss on this animated sequel anytime soon.

Showing the strange results Thanksgiving can bring was “Immortals” which rose from the seventh spot to fifth with $1.9 million and $59 million so far.

Among other new Wednesday openers, “Arthur Christmas” fell to $1.8 million on Thursday and just $4.2 million to date. The Aardman and Sony Pictures Animation charmer will be lucky to hit $16 million by Sunday. It will likely lose many of its 3D theaters soon to “Hugo” as well.

Look for continuing holiday box office updates tomorrow on HitFix.