kingkong.jpgPlace your bets, kiddies – somebody at Universal is about to get pink slipped. The studio's King Kong made just $66.2 million from Wednesday through Sunday – a huge disappointment when you consider that The Chronicles of Narnia made about a million dollars more in only three days last week.

Universal, of course, is already running all kinds of spin on this. But-but-but it's three hours long, which means it can't book as many showtimes! (Didn't someone think of that before the thing opened?) But-but-but everyone is too busy Christmas shopping to go to the movies! But-but-but Titanic started slow, too! But-but-but grosses increased 40% from Friday to Saturday! (Well, yeah, but so did Aeon Flux.) But-but-but Kong doesn't have the built-in audience of Lord of the Rings! (Well, yeah, but it also doesn't specifically exclude those of us who chiefly associate "hobbits" with "those guys who never move out of their mother's basement".) But the best quote in the Reuters writeup comes from Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray. Kong was " realistically, a tough sell," Gray says, because "it's incredibly tricky to get audiences excited about a movie that doesn't have a strong human character." Zing!

It takes only a glance at the rest of the Top Ten to see that Universal's claim that we were all too busy scooping up presents to hit the cinemas is all wrong. Narnia, for instance, held on steady, coming in at number 2 with $31.7 million, and Fox's The Family Stone slightly outdid expectations, earning $12.7 million and landing in third place. So what went wrong here? And will Kong come back from behind to, at the very least, pay off the Big Fake Gorilla's outstanding debts? Full top ten after the jump, and for more detailed figures, try this.