EXPLOSIVE OPENING FOR 2012

Defying numerous predictions of doom for the $225-million movie, 2012 raked in more than it cost in its opening weekend -- $230.4 million worldwide, of which $65.2 million was earned in the U.S. and Canada, according to final studio figures released Monday. But perhaps even more startling was the performance of the indie film Precious, which came in at No. 3 with $5.9 million, despite playing at only 174 theaters. That amounted to $33,762 per theater, compared with $19,165 per theater for 2012. Another pleasant augury of Christmas-yet-to-come: Disney's A Christmas Carol failed to give up the ghost in its second weekend as some analysts had predicted, dropping just 25.8 percent to $22.3 million. However, Pirate Radio, the only other film besides 2012 to open wide over the weekend, was forced to walk the plank, as it took in just $2.9 million, to finish out of the top ten, in 11th place. Two films crossed the $100 million mark, Couples Retreat, which has now grossed $102.05 million, and Paranormal Activity, which has taken in $103.69 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1.2012, Sony, $65,237,614, (New); 2. Disney's A Christmas Carol, Disney, $22,308,913, 2 Wks. ($63,272,757); 3. Precious, Lionsgate, $5,874,628, 2 Wks. ($8,699,180); 4. The Men Who Stare at Goats, Overture, $5,861,753, 2 Wks. ($23,038,050); 5. Michael Jackson's This Is It!, Sony, $5,078,920, 3 Wks. ($67,190,296); 6. The Fourth Kind, Universal, $4,605,365, 2 Wks. ($20,449,660); 7. Couples Retreat, Universal, $4,164,940, 6 Wks. ($102,045,330); 8. Paranormal Activity, Paramount, $4,043,417, 8 Wks. ($103,690,184); 9. Law Abiding Citizen, Overture Films, $3,796,327, 5 Wks. ($67,190,452); 10. The Box, Warner Bros., $3,158,368, 2 Wks. ($13,179,622).

CHRISTMAS CAROL HAS SMALL DROP IN SECOND WEEK

Disney's A Christmas Carol, which had a somewhat disappointing opening -- given its reported $200-million budget -- at the box office two weekends ago, may still turn a profit if the current trend continues, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Tuesday). The newspaper observed that the movie fell just 25.8 percent in its second weekend, well below the 32.8 percent drop that director Robert Zemeckis's The Polar Express experienced in its second weekend in 2004. The film, it noted, has now grossed $63.3 million -- $11.8 million more than The Polar Express took in at the end of its second weekend. The Times pointed out that the film still has several more pre-holiday weekends in theaters, including next week's four-day Thanksgiving break, before James Cameron's Avatar grabs away its 3D screens, which have been producing the lion's share of its ticket sales, on December 11. And even then, it's likely to return to theaters for holiday runs for years to come.

BLACK ACTORS DELETED FROM COUPLES RETREAT ADS IN U.K.

Two African-American actors who portrayed one of the four couples featured in the Universal movie Couples Retreat were removed from posters and print ads for the movie in the U.K., prompting critics to condemn the editing as racist. A spokesperson for Universal told London's The Mail on Sunday that Universal was merely attempting to "simplify" the ad for the U.K. and international markets. But the newspaper, which published a photo of the U.S. version of the ad next to the U.K. version, pointed out that there appears to be little that is different about the two -- except for the deletion of the two black actors, Faizon Love and Kali Hawk. Universal said that it "regretted causing offense" and that it had abandoned plans to use the ad in other countries. In an interview with the Mail, Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch-UK, said: "I think this was an ill-conceived move. We celebrate diversity in Britain and we could have coped with seeing the same poster used in America."

LINKLATER FILM CAUGHT IN MIRAMAX CRUNCH

Disney's decision to slash Miramax's releases to three films a year, shut down operations in New York, and reduce its overall budget by 70 percent has resulted in the cancellation of the planned Richard Linklater romantic comedy Liars (A to E), MovieLine.com reported on Monday. Linklater, whose films include 2003's The School of Rock, 2005's Bad News Bears, and the 2006 documentary Fast Food Nation, told the website that the cancellation of the film left him without "anything coming up." He said that after receiving the green light from Miramax, he had cast Rebecca Hall and Kat Dennings in leading roles, but that the light had now turned red. "It's no longer happening, unfortunately," Linklater confirmed.

Cinemark Movie Club