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The 10 Highest Grossing Opening Weekends for a Movie That Opened the First Weekend of the Year

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | January 8, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | January 8, 2012 |

The week after New Years, as well as the first week in September, are where studios probably take their biggest dumps of the year, knowing that Christmas holdovers will probably still dominate. Last year, they took an extra box of laxatives before excreting Season of the Witch and Country Strong and this year, they mixed the laxatives with Holy Water and gave us the unholy The Devil Inside. How bad was it? The Devil Inside becomes only the sixth movie all time to receive an F from Cinemascore, a list that also includes George Clooney’s Solaris, Ashley Judd’s Bug, Cameron Diaz’s The Box, Darkness and Wolf Creek, not that you should take Cinemscore too seriously (I liked The Box, and I loved Bug, for instance). However, to put it it another way, Bucky Larson received a B from Cinemascore. Moreover, there are many accounts of people jeering and booing at the end of The Devil Inside, which probably became self-perpetuating; in fact, the curiosity factor probably contributed to the movie’s whopping $34.5 million opening.

That’s right: $34.5 million for a movie that was bought for $1 million. And unlike the huge found footage hits, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, this movie’s hype was all negative, thus once again proving that any publicity is good publicity. I admit, had I not reviewed it, I’d have turned up to see just how bad The Devil Inside was, too. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd booing.

That $34.5 million gross also marks the biggest opening weekend for a movie opening during the first weekend of the year, all time. Here’s a trip down memory lane with a look at the entire top 10 in that category.

10. Daybreakers: $15 million

9. A Civil Action: $15.1 million

8. Traffic: $15.5 million

7. A Beautiful Mind: $16 million

6. Hostel ($19 million)

5. The Unborn ($19 million)

4. Bride Wars ($21 million)

3. White Noise ($24 million)

2. Gran Torino ($29 million)

1. The Devil Inside ($34.5 million)

As for the rest of the box office? It was all holdovers. Mission Impossible finally lost its number one spot but still managed an impressive $20 million in its fourth week to bring its cumulative gross to $170 million. It’s Tom Cruise’s biggest hit now since 2005’s War of the Worlds. Meanwhile, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows is quietly doing well, adding another $14 million to bring its total to $157 million. It will not surpass the original’s $215 million, but it’s likely doing well enough to merit a trilogy. The $90 million budgeted Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is also putting up modest numbers; it’s made $75 million now, and with worldwide grosses, it should turn a profit.

In at number five, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked will not come close to the $200 million plus of its first two movies, but it’s made $111 million so far, which is $111 million more than it should make. In at number six, War Horse is up to $56 million, and at number seven, Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo has very quietly eked out a respectable $56 million so far (believe it or not, that makes it Crowe’s third highest grossing film to date).

Number eight brings us The Adventures of Tintin, which has been something of a flop in the United States (grossing only $61 million), but it’s huge overseas ($260 million so far), so no one need weep for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

Finally, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy added nearly 800 screens over the weekend, too, and and put up a mediocre $5.7 million to brings its cumulative total just north of $10 million.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.