Roland Emmerich has once again proved his mastery over the art of destruction with his latest film 2012: Moviegoers shelled out an estimated $23.7 million for the flick’s opening day. If the number holds, the Friday figure will mark a personal best for the German director, beating 2004’s disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. Second place went to Disney’s A Christmas Carol, which grossed $5.6 million on its second Friday in theaters. The third slot belonged to the George Clooney-starrer The Men Who Stare at Goats which earned an additional $1.95 million to put its 8-day cumulative at $19.2 million. Lionsgate’s Sundance acquisition Precious continues to exceed expectations, landing in the fourth spot with an additional $1.94 million on 174 theaters. In very limited release, this Oscar shoo-in has grossed $4.7 million in eight days. Rounding out the top five movies Friday was the Milla Jovovich thriller The Fourth Kind which grossed $1.8 million.

It was mixed results for the other two releases. Pirate Radio, from Love Actually director Richard Curtis disappointed here in the states, grossing outside the top ten for its first day in release. On 882 theaters, the movie earned only $882,000. In contrast, Wes Anderson’s well-reviewed animated film The Fantastic Mr. Fox earned $72,000 in only four theaters for a solid opening debut average of $17,880. Check back tomorrow for my full report.