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‘Princess and the Frog’ Tops Weekend Box Office

The Princess and the Frog had no trouble snatching the crown at theaters this weekend, coasting to the top spot at the box office as family films flexed their holiday muscle.

The Disney fairy tale earned $25 million, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI, almost $10 million more than the closest competitor.

The film, a twist on a Brothers Grimm tale about a woman turned into a frog after a kiss, enjoyed the highest debut for an animated movie released in December. It supplanted Beavis and Butt-head Do America, which opened to $20 million in 1996.

Like that film, Frog drew a surprising number of unaccompanied adults. Nearly one in five moviegoers came to the theater without children, according to Disney exit polling.

"That's the number that's sweetest," Disney's Chuck Viane says. "We knew families were going to come. But we didn't know about the adults without kids. That was going to depend on reviews."

About 83% of the nation's critics recommended the movie, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

"You can do your movie in 2-D, 3-D," Viane says. "But it's not going to save you without a good story. Especially when you're talking about kids and family films. They depend on word of mouth."

And families have been talking. The Blind Side, the Sandra Bullock football film, took second place with $15.5 million. The fact-based film has earned $150.2 million.

Invictus, Clint Eastwood's Nelson Mandela drama, took third with a disappointing $9.1 million.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon, was No. 4 with $8 million, followed by A Christmas Carol, another family film that has flourished. The Jim Carrey picture has done $124.5 million.

Those films will be tested next week when James Cameron's Avatar opens. "Family movies have great legs, so we're confident," Viane says. "Avatar's going to be a tsunami, and we're going to survive it."

Final figures are due today.

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