If you had asked anyone in Hollywood how they expected Warner Bros. and New Line's ensemble romantic comedy "New Year's Eve" to debut on its opening weekend you probably would have a gotten a figure in the $30 million range.  And, in fact, that's what pre-release polling indicated.  Unfortunately, the box office gods and American moviegoers had other ideas. 

The Gary Marshall flick starring Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Lea Michele and Josh Duhamel, among others, found only $5.1 million on Friday for what could be a $15-16 million weekend. Overall, a shocking low debut.  Unlike 2010's "Valentine's Day," which opened to $56 million, "New Year's Eve's" core audience -- women -- may be too preoccupied with holiday shopping and parties to head to the movie theater.  On paper, the star power of "New Year's Eve" looked like a slam dunk.  In reality, it looks like the wrong "holiday" picture at the wrong time of year.

David Gordon Green's "The Sitter" also had a disappointing start.  Starring Jonah Hill, the R-rated comedy grossed just $3.7 million for an estimated $10 million three-day opening.  20th Century Fox had already lowered their estimate for the critically lambasted flick, but initially a $16-18 million debut was anticipated.

Dropping to the third slot was "Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" with another $2.5 million and $254 million to date. 

"The Muppets" fell to fourth with $1.7 million and 60.4 million.  The family flick should get a Saturday matinee boost and could overtake "Breaking Dawn" for the third slot by Sunday.

Right behind "Muppets" was "Hugo" with $1.6 million.  The Martin Scorsese critic's favorite has made $28.9 to date.  With SAG and Golden Globe nominations next week, Paramount and GK Films will hope more accolades will continue to fuel the 3-D family film.

Look for complete weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.