Only one film opened in the top 10. "Awake," a romantic thriller starring Hayden Christensen as a Wall Street banker who is conscious during heart surgery, flatlined at No. 4 with $6 million. Industry observers had expected it to crack $10 million. "Awake" was released by closely held studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer under a deal with independent movie producer the Weinstein Co.
Overall year-on-year sales slipped for the fourth consecutive weekend, said tracking firm Media By Numbers. The top 12 films earned $76.6 million, down 5.75 percent from the same time last year, and down 49 percent from last weekend.
Last year, the post-Thanksgiving drop was 45 percent.
The black-themed comedy "This Christmas," about a family's first holiday reunion in four years, held steady at No. 2 with $8.4 million in its second weekend. It has unwrapped $37 million after 12 days and should reach $60 million, said its distributor, Sony's Screen Gems. The film cost about $13 million to make.
Former champion "Beowulf" was unchanged at No. 3 with $7.9 million. After three weeks, director Robert Zemeckis' effects-laden adaptation of the old English warrior poem has earned $68.6 million -- less than the $71 million earned by the similarly-themed "300" during its first three days in March.
The film's domestic distributor, Paramount Pictures, hopes it will break $100 million. But the Viacom-owned studio noted it was on the hook for only one-third of the $150 million cost. The other backers are noted Democratic fundraiser Steve Bing, and Time Warner's Warner Bros., which is handling the international release.
Slipping one place to No. 5 was the video game-inspired thriller "Hitman" with $5.8 million. The 20th Century Foxrelease, which cost less than $20 million to make, has earned $30 million after 12 days, and should break $40 million, said the News Corp.-owned studio.
Strong openers in limited release included the family drama "The Savages," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as siblings who must care for their ailing father. It earned $153,121 from four theaters, two apiece in New York and Los Angeles. More cities will be added Dec. 21, said Fox Searchlight, another News Corp unit.
The French film "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," director Julian Schnabel's fact-based depiction of a paralyzed man who dictates a book by blinking his eye, earned $75,300 from three theaters, said Disney-owned Miramax Films.