Where's Oscar the Grouch when you need him? Many box-office forecasters had predicted that this would be the weekend when Disney's The Muppets took over first place from Summit Entertainment's The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn -- Part 1. After all, they reasoned, Disney's Tangled brought the last Harry Potter movie down over the same weekend a year ago. But The Muppets , which opened stronger than expected last weekend, backed by good buzz and solid reviews (criticism by some Muppet creators, including Frank Oz, notwithstanding), wound up with just $11.2 million for the weekend, according to studio estimates. That was down from $41.5 million for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday and $29.2 million for the three-day weekend. (By contrast, Tangled raked in $21.3 million in its second week a year ago.) And while Breaking Dawn remained in the lead for the third consecutive weekend, its estimated $16.9-million gross was nothing to cheer about. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1 earned slightly more, $17.01 million, for second place during the same weekend last year. Martin Scorsese's Hugo added about 500 theaters, but sold just around $7.6 million worth of tickets, to place third, barely edging out Arthur Christmas , which claimed around $7.35 million -- not good news for either film, which also collected terrific reviews (and Hugo was voted best picture of the year last week by The National Board of Review). Rounding out the top five was Happy Feet Two with $6 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 , $16.9 million; 2. The Muppets , $11.2 million; 3. Hugo , $7.6 million; 4. Arthur Christmas , $7.35 million; 5. Happy Feet Two , $6 million; 6. Jack and Jill , $5.5 million; 7. The Descendants , $5.2 million; 8. Immortals , $4.4 million; 9. Tower Heist , $4.1 million; 10. Puss in Boots , $3.1 million.

05/12/2011