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Steven Spielberg/WAR HORSE Opens Strongly; Cameron Crowe/Matt Damon/WE BOUGHT A ZOO Opens Weakly: Box Office

Steven Spielberg, War Horse, Jeremy Irvine
Jeremy Irvine, Steven Spielberg on the set of War Horse

Tom Cruise/MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4, Robert Downey Jr/A GAME OF SHADOWS Have Estimates Revised Upwards: Box Office

Despite the presence of Matt Damon and former Woody Allen muse Scarlett Johansson, Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo brought in a revised $9.5 million – nearly $2 million more than originally estimated – at no. 6 as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Even so, the film's per-theater average was a mere $3,032 at 3,117 locations ($15.6 million for the four-day weekend; average $5,005). As mentioned in a previous post, although figures will almost inevitably go up next weekend thanks to the New Year's holiday, We Bought a Zoo will have quite a bit of trouble matching – let alone recovering – its $50m budget domestically. Perhaps it's time for Cameron Crowe to pair up with Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky) once again.

We Bought a Zoo, Crowe's first narrative feature since the Orlando Bloom/Kirsten Dunst/Susan Sarandon box office fiasco Elizabethtown six years ago, also features Angus Macfadyen, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Colin Ford, and Maggie Elizabeth Jones.

The no. 7 movie this Christmas weekend at the domestic box office as Steven Spielberg's War Horse, which earned an estimated $7.51 million on opening day – Sunday. At 2,376 locations, War Horse's per-theater average on a single day was an impressive $3,162. Distributor Disney is clearly expecting great Monday business as well: estimates have War Horse grossing $15.02 million over the four-day weekend.

In addition to its four-legged star(s), War Horse features Jeremy Irvine, two-time Oscar nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Hilary and Jackie), Thor's Tom Hiddleston, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell, David Kross, Celine Buckens, Patrick Kennedy, Robert Emms, and Eddie Marsan.

Garry Marshall's New Year's Eve scored $3.31 million at no. 8. The all-star omnibus comedy-drama features Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, among others. Domestic total to date: a meager $32.65m.

Barely sneaking into the top ten – at no. 9 – was Sunday's other wide release, The Darkest Hour, an apocalyptic sci-fi thriller screening at 2,324 locations. Directed by former art director Chris Gorak (Minority Report, Fight Club, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), The Darkest Hour grossed $3 million, averaging a not-unexpectedly weak $1,291 per site ($5.5 million Fri-Mon; average $2,367). The film stars Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, and Rachael Taylor.

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Jeremy Irvine/Steven Spielberg/War Horse photo: David Appleby / DreamWorks

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