Ben Stiller ruled Christmas weekend for the second time in two years with his new effects-driven comedy "Night at the Museum" which opened at number one with an estimated $30.8M, according to figures released by Fox.
The PG-rated pic averaged a muscular $8,358 from an ultrawide release in 3,685 theaters including Imax venues. Two years ago, Stiller topped this same holiday weekend with "Meet the Fockers" which bowed to $46.1M in three days and $70.5M over five days.
Fox did not report a four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday gross for "Museum," but the comedy should be able to collect more than $40M over that period. According to official studio figures, Friday bowed to $12.4M, Saturday saw a slight 3% increase to $12.8M, and Sunday is projected to tumble 56% to $5.6M. The overall box office always falls sharply on Christmas Eve, but enjoys a vibrant rebound on Christmas Day when moviegoers have more time to visit their local multiplex.
Most studios reported three-day estimates and many will also report four-day estimates on Monday, Christmas Day.
Sony saw its Will Smith drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" fall one notch to second place with an estimated $15M over three days. The true-life tale dropped 44% from its opening weekend and raised its ten-day cume to $53.3M.
Opening in third place was Sylvester Stallone‘s "Rocky Balboa" with an estimated $12.5M in three days and $22.2M over the five days since its Wednesday debut. The MGM pic averaged a respectable $4,143 over the Friday-to-Sunday period from 3,017 locations.
Oscar winners Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie saw their new CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" bow in fourth place with an estimated $10M from 2,215 theaters for a good $4,505 average over three days. Directed by Robert De Niro, the frame’s only new R-rated pic played to an adult audience with studio data showing that the audience was 73% over the age of 30 and 53% male. Universal projected that the four-day tally will reach $13.9M.
In fifth place was Paramount’s family film "Charlotte’s Web" with an estimated $8M over three days, off 30%, for a cume of $26.8M after ten days. Fox’s fantasy adventure "Eragon" followed stumbling 69% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.2M. The dragon tale has taken in $37.6M in ten days.
The football drama "We Are Marshall" opened in seventh place with an estimated $6.6M from 2,606 venues for a lukewarm $2,548 average for Warner Bros. The studio’s penguin film "Happy Feet" followed in eighth with an estimated $5.1M, down 39%, for a $159.1M sum.
Sony’s "The Holiday" dropped 38% to an estimated $5M giving the Cameron Diaz–Kate Winslet film $35.1M to date. New Line rounded out the top ten with "The Nativity Story" which climbed up 1% to an estimated $4.7M raising its total to $31.4M.
In limited release, Warner Independent opened "The Painted Veil" in four theaters and grossed an estimated $47,000 in three days for a strong $11,750 average. Since its Wednesday launch, the Edward Norton period pic has collected $68,000 and on Friday the distributor will expand to 37 locations.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com