By Grady Smith
December 11, 2011 at 06:23 PM EST
Andrew Schwartz

Wait! Don’t pop the champagne just yet.

As has been the case over so many frames this fall, audiences largely ignored this weekend’s two new wide releases. New Year’s Eve and The Sitter both opened to ho-hum results. In fact, the Top 20 movies at the North American box office grossed just $73.2 million — the worst total of the entire year.

New Year’s Eve led the box office with $13.7 million in its first three days. The star-studded film debuted way behind similar holiday film Valentine’s Day, which found $56.3 million over its opening weekend in 2010. Granted, Valentine’s Day opened on Valentine’s Day weekend, and the proximity of the movie to the holiday certainly helped it substantially. So as New Year’s Eve approaches New Year’s Eve, there’s a solid chance that it will enjoy increased appeal, but then again, perhaps audiences just don’t really associate New Year’s Eve with romance. One thing is certain: The film, which earned a “B+” from filmgoers polled by CinemaScore, will have to work hard to earn back its $56 million budget. These vignette-filled, cameo-laden, holiday movies have already become something of a punchline, but with grosses like this, I wouldn’t count on seeing Flag Day or Thanksgiving in theaters anytime soon.

Jonah Hill’s babysitting comedy The Sitter started its run in second place with $10 million, continuing the recent trend of R-rated comedies not clicking at the box office. Fox’s $25 million flick earned poor reviews and weak “C+” CinemaScore grade, so it’s not likely to endure at the box office for very long. Still, once schools let out for the holidays and adults find some time off at work, the comedy could hang on long enough recoup its budget. But The Sitter is no Bridesmaids or Horrible Bosses — that’s for sure. For director David Gordon Green, who broke out with 2009’s Pineapple Express ($87.3 million), The Sitter is a second misfire this year. April’s Your Highness only managed $21.6 million during its run.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 filled the third place slot in its fourth weekend with $7.9 million. After 24 days in theaters, Breaking Dawn has earned $259.5 million, and the vampire sequel is now running slightly behind its predecessors, Eclipse and New Moon, which had earned $275 million and $267.3 million at the same point, respectively. Still, Breaking Dawn should be able to climb to about $285 million by the end of its run — that’s no chump change.

A trio of family films make up the next three rankings. In fourth, The Muppets declined by 36 percent to $7 million, giving it a $65.2 million total after three weekends. The Disney reboot opened solidly over Thanksgiving weekend, but it’s performed much like a front-loaded fanboy film in the weeks that followed. A $100 million domestic total is no guarantee — especially with a new Alvin and the Chipmunks arriving next weekend.

In fitfh place, Arthur Christmas dropped 11 percent to $6.6 million. Sony’s $98 million animation has earned $33.5 million after 17 days. Close behind, Hugo finished in sixth place with $6.1 million, dipping 19 percent after expanding from 1,840 theaters into 2,608 locations. Martin Scorsese’s 3-D adventure just hasn’t caught on with audiences the way a movie with a reported $150-170 million budget needs to, and after three weekends, the well-reviewed adventure has pulled in only $33.5 million. Hey, at least it’s got some awards!

Among new limited releases, Young Adult began its run with $321,000 from eight theaters, leading to a $40,000 per theater average. That’s a touch behind Juno’s $413,000 debut in seven theaters, but still a good start. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy grossed almost as much as Young Adult in only four theaters. The spy drama grossed $301,000, leading to a spectacular $75,250 venue average. Further down the chart, We Need to Talk About Kevin opened in just one theater, and it did fairly well, grossing $24,000.

1. New Year’s Eve – $13.7 million

2. The Sitter – $10 mil

3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 – $7.9 mil

4. The Muppets – $7.1 mil

5. Arthur Christmas – $6.6 mil

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