'Enchanted' re-casts spell on weekend boxoffice

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Disney's family fantasy "Enchanted" ruled the domestic boxoffice for a second consecutive session, grossing an estimated $17 million during the latest weekend.

The music-filled Amy Adams starrer dropped an acceptable 50% from its first Friday-through-Sunday frame while boosting its cumulative boxoffice to $70.6 million since bowing Nov. 21.

Sony/Screen Gems' urban-skewing seasonal drama "This Christmas" continued to overachieve with a second-place finish of $8.4 million in its second weekend, marking a 53% drop and a $36.9 million cume. "Beowulf," Paramount's animated actioner playing in 3-D on many screens, finished third with $7.9 million on a 52% drop as its 17-day cume hit $68.6 million.

New Line's "Awake," a medical thriller starring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba, was the frame's only wide opener, grossing $6 million in fourth place.

The boxoffice weekend after the long Thanksgiving session is often a weak one. This year's certainly fit that pattern, and a snowstorm in the U.S. Midwest didn't help any. Industrywide, the weekend was off 10% from a year ago with $84 million in grosses, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI. That represented a fourth consecutive year-over-year downtick.

Headed into the weekend, 2007 remained 5% ahead of last year in collective industry grosses.

Elsewhere during the weekend, two other films hitting sophomore sessions managed top-10 finishes while still underwhelming.

Fox's video game adaptation "Hitman" fell 56% from its opening grosses to ring up $5.8 million in fifth place, good for a $30.2 million cume. Warner Bros.' family musical "August Rush" tumbled a relatively modest 45% to $5.2 million in seventh place with a $20.3 cume.

Miramax's Coen brothers film "No Country for Old Men" added 135 theaters for a total of 995 and grossed $4.5 million in eighth place, or a solid $4,523 per venue. "No Country," which boasts a $23 million cume through four weeks of platformed release, is set to add another 225 playdates Friday.



MGM/Dimension's "The Mist" was off 52% at $4.2 million and tumbled from the top rankings. The 10-day cume for the Frank Darabont-helmed Stephen King adaptation is $19.3 million.

In a limited bow, Fox Searchlight's family comedy "The Savages" grossed $153,121 from two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles, or a super $38,280 per venue. Starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Savages" totes a cume of $185,769 ahead of scheduled expansions in existing markets during the next two frames and a national break set for Dec. 21.

Miramax's drama "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" unspooled in three locations -- two in New York, one in Los Angeles -- and grossed $75,300. That represented an impressive $25,091 per site.

The Weinstein Co.'s "I'm Not There," a Bob Dylan-inspired film helmed by Todd Haynes, added eight playdates for a total of 138 and grossed $488,922, or an acceptable $3,543 per venue. Its cume is $1.7 million.

Paramount Vantage's Nicole Kidman starrer "Margot at the Wedding" held in 35 sites and grossed $198,896, a solid $5,683 per engagement, with a $858,477 cume.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, ThinkFilm's Sidney Lumet-helmed "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" added 42 engagements for a total of 302 and grossed $822,467 for thinning per-theater average of $2,723. Its cume is $4.5 million.

Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said the second consecutive No. 1 weekend for "Enchanted" was satisfying, if expected.

"I'm really, really pleased," he said. "This weekend often means a horrific drop, so 50% is doing really good."

Viane added that he expects "Enchanted" to prove impressively leggy through the next few weeks, with the Disney executive expecting particularly solid grosses during the period between the Christmas and New Year's holidays.



"Enchanted" is the third Disney film this year to finish No. 1 over two consecutive weekends, after similar feats by "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "The Game Plan."

"Awake" performed in line with the distributor's modest expectations, MGM distribution president Clark Woods said.

"We needed to find the right week to open this move, to find this level of success," Woods said. "It needed to find a nice little spot, where it could sit by itself, as there are just so many big pictures coming up in the next few weeks."

Demographic breakdowns of opening audiences for the film were not immediately available.

Weinstein Co. co-topper Harvey Weinstein said the weekend grosses for "Awake," added to foreign presales and anticipated home video revenue, assure that the film will be a "financially smart and strategic win" for the company.

The coming weekend will mark a second consecutive session in which only one film is set to open wide. But it's a biggie: New Line's effects-laden "The Golden Compass," a literary-based family fantasy that studio execs have pegged as a possible franchise-starter.

New Line offered sneak previews of "Compass" in 873 theaters Saturday night and was pleased enough with the results, though audience capacity only reached 50% on average because of poor weather conditions in many locations. Patrons' ratings of the film were not immediately available, but audiences were evenly divided between male and female moviegoers, a New Line spokeswoman said.

Also this weekend, more prestige titles enter the market with limited runs aimed at attracting awards-season attention. Those include Universal/Working Title's much anticipated Keira Knightley starrer "Atonement"; Fox Searchlight's family dramedy "Juno," which has been generating a lot of prerelease buzz; and MGM/Weinstein's John Cusack vehicle "Grace Is Gone."

But after this weekend, the release schedule will get notably more crowded as distributors race against the calendar to unspool high-profile titles. The pre-Christmas frame accrued one extra behemoth Friday, when Universal moved its Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts starrer "Charlie Wilson's War" from Dec. 25 to Dec. 21.
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