Leftovers appetizing after holiday

'Museum,' 'Happyness' poised to repeat with no wide openers

Because the only new films bowing this week are in limited release, Hollywood is counting on its existing theatrical fare to satisfy the appetites of moviegoers hoping to get in one last film before the end of the holiday season. Last weekend's top two movies, 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum" and Sony Pictures' "The Pursuit of Happyness," are likely to hold on to their respective first- and second-place rankings.

How the rest of the top 10 shakes out remains up in the air.

After Paramount Pictures' release of DreamWorks' "Dreamgirls" opened so strong on Christmas Day, the Bill Condon-directed musical is likely to move into one of the top five spots during its second session. And though no one is exactly applauding the Weinstein Co. remake of "Black Christmas," the R-rated slasher film distributed by MGM grossed $3.3 million on Christmas Day and, as the only horror movie in contention, could do well as it adds 244 theaters for its first full weekend.

The PG-rated "Dreamgirls" soared into theaters Monday with an impressive $8.7 million expansion. Based on the Broadway musical, the film had a built-in fan base that rushed to the theaters for its opening day in wide release. But whether "Dreamgirls" proves to be a hit depends more on how it holds its second week. In only 852 theaters, it should do well, as it has benefited from overall positive reviews and strong exit polls. But the true test for the film starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles and Eddie Murphy is whether this latest musical will catch fire with a mass audience.

This frame also will be something of a test for Paramount's G-rated "Charlotte's Web." Initially thought to be the family film of the holiday, "Web" has faltered a bit in its first two weekends. Based on the popular children's novel by E.B. White, it has grossed $28 million in two weeks. Paramount is hopeful, though, that as mothers become more available on the second week of the holiday break, they'll be taking their little ones to the theaters. The concern is that "Museum" and even "Happyness" are capturing the lion's share of the family audience, leaving "Web" with only the youngest of moviegoers.

In limited release, the most anticipated opener is Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth." Named on many critics' top 10 lists, the R-rated fantastical thriller from director Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy") is being positioned as a fairy tale for adults. Set in 1940s Spain, the Spanish-language film intersperses the hell of war with the rich fantasy life of a preteen heroine.

Fox Searchlight this week unveiled Richard Eyre's R-rated "Notes on a Scandal," the British-based tale of tangled relationships, based on Zoe Heller's novel "What Was She Thinking?" Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench have received accolades for their starring performances.

Paramount on Wednesday released DreamWorks' "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," based on Patrick Suskind's novel. Starring Ben Whishaw and Dustin Hoffman, the R-rated film from German director Tom Tykwer is set in 18th century France, where a man with an extraordinary sense of smell is driven to murder in order to create the perfect perfume.

MGM opens five films this week, including the Weinstein Co.'s "Miss Potter," a PG-rated drama about children's author Beatrix Potter that stars Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson; another Weinstein Co. title, the Luc Besson animated project "Arthur and the Invisibles," with voice work from Madonna, Snoop Dogg and David Bowie; and the Sienna Miller-starring and George Hickenlooper-directed "Factory Girl," also from the Weinstein Co., a biopic about Edie Sedgwick (Miller), a mid-'60s "it-girl" and Andy Warhol's muse.

MGM also unveils its recent acquisition "The Flying Scotsman" and the Weinstein Co.'s romantic comedy "Fast Track," starring Zach Braff, Amanda Peet and Jason Bateman.
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