'Feet' still standing at No. 1

Penguins, Bond on top; 'Nativity' 4th

It was more of the same at the North American boxoffice for the weekend as Warner Bros. Pictures' animated "Happy Feet," Sony Pictures' updated James Bond movie "Casino Royale" and Buena Vista Pictures' actioner "Deja Vu" held on to the top three spots, respectively, from the Thanksgiving weekend.

None of the three new wide releases could break through the powerful triad. The one that got the closest, New Line Cinema's "The Nativity Story," which landed in fourth place, did so with an uninspired $8 million bow.

As for the other two new releases, Fox Atomic's "Turistas" bowed at No. 8 to a weak $3.5 million, while MGM's release of Bauer Martinez's "Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj" grossed an estimated $2.3 million for the 10th spot.

In what is usually a soft weekend, the frame actually ended up better than the comparable weekend last year, when Paramount Pictures opened the disappointment "Aeon Flux." The top 12 films this frame were up an estimated 6% compared with last year.

Arriving in the wake of estimates that predicted a first weekend as low as $10 million and as high as $20 million, "Nativity," from director Catherine Hardwicke, scored $8 million, clearly below what industry insiders were anticipating. Hoping to capitalize on the faith-based market, which has shown a real appetite for inspirational stories, "Nativity" ? the story of the birth of Jesus ? didn't seem to connect with the faithful. In addition, the film, which stars Keisha Castle-Hughes ("Whale Rider") as Mary, didn't generate the type of reviews that would draw traditional moviegoers. New Line, which recently has weathered a slew of disappointing openings, including last weekend's Jack Black starrer "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny," is hoping that strong presales from church groups will buoy the film's performance throughout the holiday season.

"It was the bottom range of where we wanted to be," said David Tuckerman, New Line's president of domestic distribution. "Part of our problem is this movie was made for the heartland, and the weather couldn't have been worse. It kept the families and the older crowd from going out. We're hoping for a strong hold."

With a production budget of $35 million and an additional $30 million spent to market the film, including a spectacular premiere at the Vatican, "Nativity" needs a bit of a miracle to make back its negative cost.

The weather didn't hamper "Feet" or "Casino." After 17 days in theaters, the films have proved their mettle, both grossing more than $100 million. Buena Vista's second week of "Deja Vu," the Denzel Washington starrer, also earned success status, dropping 46% to a solid $11 million. After 12 days in theaters, the Tony Scott-directed drama has earned $44.1 million.

Fox Atomic opened its $4 million acquisition "Turistas" in 1,570 theaters. The R-rated horror flick generated a poor $2,255 per-theater average to take the eighth spot overall. The new studio subsidiary took a bit of a risk with the film, screening it for critics, unlike most horror films today. The John Stockwell-directed film generated primarily negative reviews, but Atomic's chief operating officer, John Hegeman, is confident that the reviews didn't hurt the film targeted at the 18-24 crowd.

"I think the negative reviews aren't going to hurt the horror movie. If you are into this type of movie, it delivers," Hegeman said. "It's a really competitive marketplace. There are a lot of pictures out there. We were hoping for between $4 million-$5 million. We are definitely disappointed."

More coin also was expected for "Van Wilder 2," but considering that the first one, released in 2002, only grossed $22 million, and that the sequel doesn't feature either of the original's stars, Ryan Reynolds and Tara Reid, an estimated $2.3 million take is not that surprising. The film, which stars Kal Penn, generated a paltry per-theater average of $1,160.

MGM's release of the Weinstein Co.'s "Bobby" had a poor hold in its second weekend in wide release. The Emilio Estevez-directed drama, focusing on the day Robert Kennedy was shot, earned an additional $2 million. In 1,670 theaters, the film fell 59% to a per-screen average of $1,201. The film has earned $8 million.

Warners' "The Fountain," from Regency Enterprises, also had a precipitous fall. In its second weekend in theaters, the Darren Aronofsky-directed film fell 57% to earn an additional $1.6 million. With a per-theater average of $1,107, the R-rated film starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz has grossed $8 million.

In limited release, ThinkFilm didn't have much success with the Morgan Freeman starrer "10 Items or Less." Directed by Brad Silberling and co-starring Paz Vega, the R-rated film earned $40,150 on 15 screens for a per-screen average of $2,677. The film is a bit of an experiment for Freeman's production company, Revelations Entertainment, and Intel ? the two plan to release it Dec. 15 on the Internet ? but it might not be the best case study since its theatrical bow isn't very strong.

Meanwhile, the studios seem to be in prep mode for this weekend, which has the potential to be a strong one at the boxoffice. Warners sneaked "Blood Diamond" at 705 theaters on Saturday with an overall 65% capacity. Reactions were very good to excellent, the studio reported, which has high hopes for the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer.

Warners also organized a wide screening program over the frame for its PG-rated "Unaccompanied Minors," which is set to open this weekend, too. According to Warners' Jeff Goldstein, kids went wild for the film about a group of pre-teens stranded in the airport during the Christmas holiday.

Sony sneaked "The Holiday" in 800 theaters Saturday night. The film was at 75% capacity, with most of the audience comprised of women over 25. Directed by Nancy Meyers, the film generated high exit polls and played well throughout all regions of the country.

For the week ending Nov. 30, total boxoffice amounted to $199.8 million, down slightly from the $201.7 million collected during the comparable week a year ago. For the year to date, total boxoffice is $8.39 million, up nearly 6% from 2005's $7.93 billion. Admissions are up 3% compared with 2005.
comments powered by Disqus