Sam Mendes' James Bond pic Skyfall reclaimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office with $11 million, while Gerard Butler's new soccer-themed romantic comedy Playing for Keeps flopped with $6 million.
Skyfall continues to shatter records, becoming the highest-grossing movie released by Sony with $918 million in worldwide tickets sales, beating Spider-Man 3 ($890 million). Sony is MGM's distribution and co-financing partner on the film.
In North America, Daniel Craig's third outing as Agent 007 unseated Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2, which had topped the chart for three consecutive weekends. Skyfall's North American cume is now $261.2 million, not far behind Breaking Dawn 2's $268.7 million.
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's holiday-themed Rise of the Guardians climbed up the chart to No. 2, grossing $10.5 million and down only 21 percent. The 3D toon, earning $61.9 million domestically to date, has been a disappointment, but DWA and Paramount believe the kids pic will have especially strong legs throughout the holidays.
Overseas, Guardians earned $26 million from 58 markets for an international total of $90.5 million and worldwide haul of $152.7 million.
Summit Entertainment's Breaking Dawn 2 made its own news, becoming the highest grossing title in the franchise with a worldwide total of $751.1 million. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1, released last year, held the previous record ($712.2 million).
Breaking Dawn 2 came in No. 3 domestically for the weekend with $9.2 million.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln followed closely with $9.1 million. The historical drama has now grossed $97.3 million for DreamWorks and Disney.
Fox's Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, placed No. 5 with $8.3 million for a domestic total of $60.9 million. Overseas, the 3D adventure, playing in only 11 markets, crossed the $100 million mark. It's doing big business in Asia, including in China, where it has earned $68.3 million, surpassing the entire runs of The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man.
Pi's international total is $105.7 million for a worldwide cume of $166.6 million.
Playing for Keeps, also starring Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid, came in No. 6 domestically despite a B+ CinemaScore.
The soccer-themed romantic comedy marks another box-office flop for Butler after recent surfing drama Chasing Mavericks.
FilmDistrict acquired U.S. distribution rights to Playing for Keeps in 2011. Directed by Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness), the story follows the travails of a washed-up soccer star who hopes to redeem himself by coaching his son's soccer team but falls prey to desirable single moms.
Butler, whose next film is the White House action pic Olympus Has Fallen, has a mixed record at the box office since 300 made him a Hollywood star, grossing $456.1 million worldwide in spring 2007. His highest-grossing film since is The Ugly Truth ($205.2 million). Last year, Coriolanus and Machine Gun Preacher both fell flat at the domestic box office.
This weekend and last mark the lull before the Christmas crush begins with the Dec. 14 release of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
At the specialty box office, Hyde Park on Hudson -- another presidential historical drama -- opened to $83,280 from four theaters for a solid location average of $20,820, the best of the weekend. The Focus Features film stars Bill Murray as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Laura Linney as a distant relative.
The Metropolitan Opera's live broadcast of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera generated $2 million in ticket sales from 800 theaters Saturday. Overseas, more than 86,000 people saw the broadcast in 30 countries.
Here are the full results for the weekend of Dec. 7-9 at domestic box office:
Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Three Day Weekend Total, Cume
1. Skyfall, 5/3,401, MGM/Sony, $11 million, $261.2 million.
2. Rise of the Guardians, 3/3,639, DreamWorks Animation/Paramount, $10.5 million, $61.9 million.
3. Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2, 4/3,646, Summit, $9.2 million, $268.7 million.
4. Lincoln, 5/2,014, DreamWorks/Disney, $9.1 million, $97.3 million.
5. Life of Pi, 3/2,946, Fox, $8.3 million, $60.9 million.
6. Playing for Keeps, 1/2,837, FilmDistrict, $6 million, $6 million.
7. Wreck-It Ralph, 6/2,746, Disney, $4.9 million, $164.4 million.
8. Red Dawn, 3/2,754, FilmDistrict, $4.3 million, $37.3 million.
9. Flight, 6/2,413, Paramount, $3.1 million, $86.2 million.
10. Killing Them Softly, 2/2,424, The Weinstein Co., $2.7 million, $11.8 million.