Bond battles penguins over Thanksgiving

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Its James Bond vs. the penguins at the boxoffice this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as "Casino Royale" and "Happy Feet" battle for supremacy.

According to the boxoffice tracking site boxoffice mojo.com, Sony Pictures' "Casino Royale" led the hit parade on Thanksgiving Day with a $7.6 million estimated take, while Warner Bros. Pictures' claimed the second spot for its "Happy Feet" with an estimated $6 million.

But on Friday, as families headed to the multiplex, the order flipped, and director George Miller's tale of a dancing penguin moved into the top spot with an estimated $15.75 million for the day. "Casino," directed by Martin Campbell, pulled in a solid $13.25 million as it moved to second place for the day.

The next three slots held steady as Buena Vista's new thriller "Deja Vu," 20th Century Fox's new holiday comedy "Deck the Halls" and Fox's holdover "Borat" took the third, fourth and fifth positions respectively.

On Friday, "Deja Vu," directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington, attracted an estimated $8.35 million.

"Deck the Halls," John Whitesell's ode to competitive Christmas decorating starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick, grossed an estimated $4.9 million. And the antic "Borat" picked up anther $4.5 million as it crossed the $100 million mark with an estimated cume of $103.5 million.

Meanwhile, "Bobby," director Emilo Estevez's look at a group of characters affected by the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, found itself in ninth place on Friday as it expanded into 1,667 theaters. The MGM release of the Weinstein Co. film took in an estimated $1.85 million for the day.

Tagging behind were Warner's debut of the time-travelling love story "The Fountain," which stood in tenth place with an estimated $1.48 million, and New Line Cinema's comedy "Tenacious D.," which checked in in eleventh place with an estimated $1.35 million.

Background

With four wide releases bowing this Thanksgiving holiday frame and three strong holdovers looking for business, the North American boxoffice is going to be extremely crowded, and it remains to be seen whether that's a good thing.

Buena Vista Pictures is looking for action with its Tony Scott-directed "Deja Vu," while New Line Cinema is enthusiastic about "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny." 20th Century Fox will unveil "Deck the Halls," while Warner Bros. Pictures bows Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain." The question is: Will audiences be so fatigued by the glut of product -- and movie advertising -- that they stay away from the theaters altogether?

Warners is likely to win the frame with the second week of "Happy Feet." The animated penguin movie that has scored with critics and audiences will dominate this family-friendly frame, leaving the new releases scrambling against the strong holdovers of Sony Pictures' Bond hit "Casino Royale" and Fox's comedic romp "Borat."

"Casino" and "Deja Vu" are likely to battle for second place; both are targeting a primarily male audience, which will make things interesting.

"Deja Vu" stars Denzel Washington as an ATF agent who is introduced to a secret government agency in an effort to prevent the crime he's working on from ever happening. The film co-stars Val Kilmer and Jim Caviezel and scored well among exhibition execs at the recent ShowEast convention. The PG-13 film is likely to bow in the $30 million range for the five-day period.

Fox opens Regency Enterprises' "Deck the Halls" today. Starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito, the film plays on a traditional Christmas movie theme: competition for the most absurdly decorated house. Directed by John Whitesell ("Big Momma's House 2"), the PG film will play in 3,205 theaters. Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenoweth co-star in the comedy, which could get into the $20 million range for the five days.

"Pick of Destiny" opens today in 1,919 theaters. The relatively inexpensive movie is targeting die-hard fans of actor-comedian Jack Black's cult rock band Tenacious D. The R-rated film tells the story of two rockers who try to become the world's greatest band and are helped by a magical guitar pick housed in a rock 'n' roll museum 300 miles away. Directed by Liam Lynch ("Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic"), the film is likely to bow in the mid-teen-million range for the five-day period, with hopes that it could get into the low 20s.

"Fountain," also from Regency, is Aronofsky's follow-up to the well-received "Requiem for a Dream." The PG-13 film experienced numerous starts and stops until it received a scaled-down budget and landed Hugh Jackman and Aronofsky's fiancee, Rachel Weisz, to appear in the lead roles. "Fountain" time-travels through a thousand years as a 16th century conquistador tries to save his one true love. The film, which has earned mixed early reviews, bows in 1,472 theaters.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight opened "The History Boys" on Tuesday. From director Nicholas Hytner, the film is a direct adaptation of the successful British theater production and features the same cast. From a screenplay by playwright Alan Bennett, "History" centers on a boys school where bright, unruly students are studying history for a college entrance exam. Richard Griffiths stars as one of the teachers.

Warner Independent Pictures expands Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration" to 623 theaters today, and MGM expands the Weinstein Co.'s "Bobby," from director Emilio Estevez, to 1,667 theaters.
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