North American film-goers embraced the apocalypse over Christmas this weekend as disaster flick “2012” beat Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” to top the box office, final figures showed Monday.

The big-budget “2012” reduced its competitors to rubble as it racked up 65.2 million dollars, accounting for roughly half of all box office receipts in an impressive opening weekend, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said.

Starring John Cusack (“Grosse Pointe Blank” and “High Fidelity”) it tracks the plight of humans after December 21, 2012, when a host of geological and astrological catastrophes befall the Earth.

The film created a stir before its release when the US space agency NASA set up a website to debunk its central myth that the world will end along with the Mayan calendar in 2012.

Meanwhile “A Christmas Carol,” slipped to second place after debuting at number one last week. The adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic tale, featuring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, scooped up 22.3 million dollars.

The harrowing drama “Precious” rallied from 12th spot last weekend to third despite only being shown in 174 theaters, in stark contrast to “2012”, which screened in 3,404 cinemas. “Precious” took 5.87 million dollars.

Already talked about as a contender at next year’s Oscars, “Precious” follows the fortunes of an illiterate, obese African-American teenager who becomes pregnant after being raped by her father.

In fourth place was “The Men Who Stare At Goats”, starring George Clooney as a member of an elite US military force that uses mind control as a weapon. The satirical comedy took 5.86 million dollars.

Falling to fifth place was “This Is It,” a compilation of footage of the late Michael Jackson as he prepared for a final world tour.

The film cashed in on an outpouring of affection for the star after his death earlier this year, and took in 5.1 million dollars in receipts.

“The Fourth Kind,” starring Milla Jovovich as a doctor investigating alien abduction, took in 4.6 million dollars in its second week.

“Couples Retreat” starring Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman, was seventh with 4.2 million dollars.

Falling three spots to number eight was “Paranormal Activity,” a low-budget horror movie that earned 4.1 million dollars during its eighth week.

At nine was “Law Abiding Citizen,” a thriller about a man bent on avenging the deaths of his slain family, which took 3.8 million dollars in its fifth week in theaters.

“The Box,” a horror flick starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple who receive a mysterious and terror-filled box, rounded out the top 10. –AFP