By John Young
November 07, 2009 at 08:31 PM EST

Jim Carrey, or rather a performance-capture CGI version of the actor, delivered enough holiday spirit to snatch the top spot at the box office on Friday, according to early estimates. Disney’s A Christmas Carol, director Robert Zemeckis’ animated adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novella, grossed $9 million on its first day. By comparison, the last major family film, Where the Wild Things Are, ate up $12.1 million its opening day, but Carol should have much sturdier legs in the upcoming weeks. Carol‘s total is also slightly less than the opening gross of Zemeckis’ prior performance-capture flick, Beowulf, which slew $10 million back in 2007.

Second place went to the Milla Jovovich horror film The Fourth Kind, which abducted $5 million from moviegoers’ wallets. The Men Who Stare at Goats, the wacky war comedy starring George Clooney, earned $4.6 million — the best debut ever for a movie with “goat” in its title. Michael Jackson’s This Is It displayed some staying power, dropping a respectable 47 percent for $4.2 million. And fifth place was a tie between two horror movies: the new Cameron Diaz release The Box and the holdover phenomenon Paranormal Activity. Early figures had both films at $2.9 million.

In limited release, the Oscar-hopeful drama Precious grossed $585,000 from 18 theaters for an exceptional per-screen average of $32,500. Friday’s figures are below, and check back here on Sunday for the complete box office report.

1. A Christmas Carol — $9.0 mil

2. The Fourth Kind — $5.0 mil

3. The Men Who Stare at Goats — $4.6 mil

4. Michael Jackson’s This Is It — $4.2 mil

5. The Box — $2.9 mil

5. Paranormal Activity — $2.9 mil