Disney's creepy 3D Christmas Carol was number one at the box office, but the big movie biz story today is Precious' record-setting debut over the weekend

As Women & Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein writes:

It made $1.8 million dollars on a total of 18 screens. That is an average of $100,000 per screen which never, ever happens. A little perspective. Michael Jackson's movie This is It opened to 6,675 per screen average. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opened at 17,997 per screen. Granted people had a lot more places to see both movies and both grossed more for the weekend, but Precious' debut is unprecedented. The only movies to open over $100,000 per screen were Dreamgirls and Brokeback Mountain.

Variety's Pamela McClintock echoes: "That's the best gross ever for a film opening in fewer than 100 theaters."

Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger notes that the numbers are "an amazing achievement," especially "considering all of this was accomplished by a film by a relatively new director with no big movie stars in it."

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Though the movie is expected to have great word-of-mouth, at least one critic feels it doesn't send the right message. Newsweek's Raina Kelley writes:

I'm tired of movies presenting black people as grateful to find a helping hand to rise above their abusers. Not because we've seen this movie before-starring Sidney Poitier, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, and even Matthew Perry-but because the story never changes. Where's the African-American Norma Rae or Silkwood?

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A good point — but maybe the success of Precious will open doors for other films about the black experience? And for the stories of all different types of women?

Precious Kills at the Box Office [Women & Hollywood]
'Precious' On Path To Indie Success, 'Carol' In Tune With Box Office; 'Precious' A Gem With Hot Specialty Tallies [Variety]
The Problem With 'Precious' [Newsweek]
'Precious' Lives Up To The Hype [EW]