Opening on far fewer screens that the holiday weekend's other big releases, and attempting to combine a children's adventure with a deep love for film history, Martin Scorsese's Hugo always looked like the underdog for the box office weekend. But after a slow Wednesday opening, Hugo made a huge leap forward at the box office on Thursday-- according to Box Office Guru's Gitesh Pandya, Hugo jumped 40% on Thursday, going from #7 to #3 in the rankings. Deadline confirms that leap, and says that Paramount has now revised its weekend estimate from $11 million to $14 million.

Of course, $14 million is still a fraction of what Hugo cost, and the movie will need to play strong throughout the holidays to even begin making its money back. But as a labor of love for Scorsese, and the most brilliantly rendered 3D seen since Avatar, Hugo is winning some ecstatic critical reviews and the kind of overall affection that tends to keep films buoyed for a long time. Sure, The Muppets is an easier choice for all-family viewing, but the people taking a gamble on Hugo seem to be rewarded by it, and continued good word of mouth on the movie could go a long way toward making Scorsese's expensive experiment a good deal all around.

Then again, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is still poised to win the weekend. So there are still reasons to be pessimistic out there if that's what you're looking for.

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