It may be only the first week of November, but Disney’s A Christmas Carol got the holiday season started by spiriting $31 million at the box office, according to early estimates by Box Office. The $175 million animated movie, which utilized performance-capture technology to allow Jim Carrey to play multiple roles from Charles Dickens’ beloved story, represented the best opening in director Robert Zemeckis’ career. And even though Carol performed a bit below expectations, the family film should hold up well in the coming weeks, especially since it’ll be playing on nearly 200 pricey IMAX screens until Avatar opens on Dec. 18.

The concert documentary Michael Jackson’s This Is It dropped only 40 percent in its second weekend, sliding into second place with $14 million. Not far behind was the new George Clooney comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats. Unlike the Chicago Cubs, the movie managed to escape the Curse of the Billy Goat for a weekend total of $13.3 million. The Milla Jovovich alien-abduction film The Fourth Kind debuted in, appropriately enough, fourth place with $12.5 million, while the box-office phenomenon of the season, Paranormal Activity, recorded $8.6 million—good enough for fifth place. Activity, which reportedly cost only $11,000 to produce, has now grossed $97.4 million domestically. Such success is not in store for the Cameron Diaz horror flick The Box, which debuted in sixth place with $7.9 million and managed to garner a rare “F” grade from CinemaScore moviegoers.

The most newsworthy box-office story of the weekend was the record-breaking opening for Precious, the Oprah-endorsed and Sundance-winning drama starring Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. On only 18 screens, Precious grossed $1.8 million for a per-screen average of $100,000—the largest per-screen average ever for a movie opening in more than 10 theaters. With many Oscar prognosticators—including EW’s Dave Karger—calling the film one of the front-runners of the awards season, Precious has an undoubtedly bright future in store as it gradually expands into additional markets throughout November.