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Box office: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ narrowly defeats ‘Grinch’ in sleepy pre-holiday weekend

LOS ANGELES: Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” topped a quiet weekend at the domestic box office, marking the third straight win for the animated sequel. It earned $16.2 million in its third week of release, generating $140 million since it opened over Thanksgiving.

Another cartooned adventure almost gave “Ralph” a run for its money. Illumination and Universal’s “The Grinch” pocketed $15.2 million in its fifth outing, marking a decline of just 15 percent. Based on the Dr. Seuss classic holiday tale, “The Grinch” has made $223.5 million in North America and $322.4 million globally.

A series of holdovers rounded out the top five as studios largely sat out the pre-holiday frame. Moviegoing will get a boost next weekend when “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Mule,” and “Mortal Engines” hit theaters. That will kick off a competitive Christmas race as “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Aquaman,” and “Bumblebee” enter the fray the following weekend. “Aquaman” got a head start overseas, launching in China this weekend with a massive $93.6 million.

With no new wide releases, a number of awards hopefuls got their start at the indie box office. Focus Features’ “Mary Queen of Scots” brought in $200,000 when it debuted in four theaters. That’s the best screen average of the weekend with $50,000 per location. Saoirse Ronan plays the eponymous royal and Margot Robbie portrays Queen Elizabeth I in the costume drama. Focus is expanding the film to 70 theaters next weekend.

“Our first-time film director Josie Rourke took a fresh take on this incredible drama of these two queens and made it resonate with audiences in a powerful way paralleling so much of what is still going on today for women,” said Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features’ president of distribution.

Roadside Attractions’ “Ben Is Back” opened on four screens, picking up $80,972 for a screen average of $20,243. The drama follows a mother (Julia Roberts) who attempts to help her addict son (Lucas Hedges) after he returns home from rehab. Lucas Hedges father, Peter Hedges, directed the movie.

Meanwhile, Neon’s “Vox Lux” starring Natalie Portman as a pop star with a traumatic past launched in six locations. It earned $162,252 for a theater average of $27,042.

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