Marlohe in ‘Skyfall’

Lacking an early release of a Christmas blockbuster, this weekend is traditionally one of the weakest of the year. With only a single (soft) new film in play — Millennium's Gerard Butler starrer "Playing for Keeps" (released by FilmDistrict) — the surprise is that for Friday, the top ten actually grossed about equal to last year, with the full weekend likely ahead.

Two new younger-audience releases — "New Years Eve" and "The Sitter" — both opened last yearmuch better than "Playing," which looks like it won't make the top five for this weekend. Thetop films instead are now in their third to fifth weeks, with the oldest of the lot, "Skyfall," back to number one.

The drops from last week across the board were less than seasonal norms. "Breaking Dawn – Part 2," though likely displaced from first place, fell less than 50%, while "Part 1" last year was down around 55% from its previous Friday. The adult-oriented/awards contending films fell between a third to less than 40%, with likely better holds for the rest of the weekend, with "The Life of Pi" showing strength by falling the least. The struggling "Rise of the Guardians" actually held better than any of these, off only around a quarter from last Friday.

The continued pull of these films likely took its toll on "Playing for Keeps" even before the reviews did. This is thethird straight wide-release dud starring Butler, and is also a majorcome down for Italian director Gabrielle Muccino, whose earlier "Pursuit of Happyness" and " Seven Pounds" fared much better.

The Top Ten for Friday (grosses in millions):

1. "Skyfall" (Sony) – $3.1

2. "Breaking Dawn Part 2" (Lionsgate) – $2.8

3. "Lincoln" (Buena Vista) – $ 2.6

4. "Rise of the Guardian" (Paramount) – $ 2.3

5. "The Life of Pi" (20th Century-Fox) – $2.3

6. "Playing for Keeps" (FilmDistrict) – $2.1

7. "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) – $1.3

8. "Wreck-It Ralph" (Buena Vista) – $1.2

9. "Flight" (Paramount) – $.9

10. "Killing Them Softly" (Weinstein) – $.9

By Tom Brueggemann