John Cusack in 2012A solar flare lights up the world in Roland Emmerich's disaster flick '2012,' which in turn lit up movie theaters around the world this weekend. The $260 million CGI-effects laden picture sold an estimated $65 million worth of tickets in 3,004 theaters in the U.S. and Canada and as much as $150 million more overseas.

The numbers exceeded industry expectations and prove the old adage that if you give people what they want, they'll come out for it. What people apparently did not want was a movie about rogue 1960s rock stations in the North Sea. 'Pirate Radio,' which opened in 888 theaters, didn't make it into the Top 10. It finishes 11th with $2.9 million. John Cusack in 2012A solar flare lights up the world in Roland Emmerich's disaster flick '2012,' which in turn lit up movie theaters around the world this weekend. The $260 million CGI-effects laden picture sold an estimated $65 million worth of tickets in 3,004 theaters in the U.S. and Canada and as much as $100 million more overseas.

The numbers exceeded industry expectations and prove the old adage that if you give people what they want, they'll come out for it. What people apparently did not want was a movie about rogue 1960s rock stations in the North Sea. 'Pirate Radio,' which opened in 888 theaters, didn't make it into the Top 10. It finishes 11th with $2.9 million.

But the end of the world wasn't the only thing people wanted to see. 'Disney's A Christmas Carol,' a motion-capture animated version of Dickens' classic had a better second weekend than was expected. After a disappointing opening of $30 million a week ago, 'Carol' dropped only 22%, taking in an estimated $22.3 million, according to the theater monitoring company Exhibitor Relations.

'Carol,' which stars an animated Jim Carrey in seven different roles, figures to hit its stride after Thanksgiving when families begin looking around for traditional holiday fare.

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The holdover military dramedy 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' finished third over the weekend with an estimated gross of $6.2 million from 2,453 theaters. But the big winner on a per-theater basis is in position No. 4. That's Lee Daniels' 'Precious,' which in expanding from 18 theaters to 174, and from four markets to nine, sold an average of $35,000 at each venue for a total of about $6.1 million.

'This is It,' the Michael Jackson rehearsal documentary, had a sluggish third weekend, falling to fifth place with ticket sales of $5.1 million. Its running domestic box office total is now $67.2 million.

Falling like a stone, which was predicted after withering reviews and bad audience exit polls, is 'The Fourth Kind,' a mock documentary style movie about alien abduction. It did just $4.7 million over its second weekend in wide release and will soon vanish like an unidentified light hovering over a Kansas farm house. The other mock-documentary in release, 'Paranormal Activity,' fell to eighth position on the box office chart, with just $4.2 million. But its total gross if $103.8 million puts it in the pantheon of low-budget movie phenoms.

Quirky director Wes Anderson's first foray into animation, adapting Roald Dahl's 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' had a promising opening in two theaters each in Los Angeles and New York. It didn't do 'Precious' business, but it was on pace to do $55,000 to $65,000 per theater, which bodes well for its wide release before Thanksgiving.

What '2012,' 'A Christmas Carol' and this weekend's other audience favorites have to worry about now is Friday's arrival of vampire love in 'Twilight: New Moon.' Fans are already lining up.

Weekend box office chart:

1. '2012.' $65 million (3,004 theaters).
2. 'Disney's A Christmas Carol.' $22.3 million (3,683).
3. 'The Men Who Stare at Goats.'$6.2 million (2,453).
4. 'Precious.' $6.1 million (174).
5. 'This is It.' $5.1 million (3,037).
6. 'The Fourth Kind.' $4.7 million (2,530).
7. 'Couples Retreat,' $4.3 million (2,509).
8. 'Paranormal Activity,' 4.2 million (2,712).
9. 'Law Abiding Citizen,' $3.9 million (2,071).
10. 'The Box,' $3.2 million (2,635).