The big-budget animated version of 'A Christmas Carol' made the most money at the box office this weekend, but the low-budget 'Precious' made the biggest statement.

Playing in only 18 theaters in four American cities (New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago), the grim tale about a sexually abused Harlem teenager grossed $1.8 million, for an astonishing per-theater average of about $100,000. It is fair to say that in one weekend, 'Precious' was transformed from a critics' and film festival favorite to an odds-on Best Picture Oscar contender.