MISSING HEADLINE

Fox remake 'Earth' defies critics to post $31 mil opening frame

Fox's remake of the sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" survived critics' toxic attacks in weekend-winning style as the Keanu Reeves starrer landed atop the domestic boxoffice with an estimated $31 million in opening grosses.

Overture's urban laugher "Nothing Like the Holidays" debuted much more modestly with $3.5 million in seventh place. And Freestyle's animated adventure "Delgo" never got started, debuting with just $916,000.

Warner Bros.' comedy "Four Christmases" nabbed second place during its third outing with $13.3 million and an $88 million cume. Summit's vampire romance "Twilight" finished third during its fourth frame with an $8 million performance and a $150.1 million cume.

Two wide releases tumbled from the top 10 during their second weekends. Sony's Chess Records musical "Cadillac Records" fell 54% to $1.6 million for a 10-day cume of $5.9 million, while Lionsgate's action sequel "Punisher: War Zone" slid a big 68% to $1.7 million with a $7 million cume.

Industrywide, the weekend's $93 million in collective grosses marked a 42% decline from the same frame last year, according to Nielsen. But year to date, 2008 is still outpacing the same portion of last year by 1%, at $9.01 billion.

Additional cast on the "Earth" remake — directed by Scott Derrickson ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose") — includes Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm (AMC's "Mad Men").

Many critics judged the film harshly as measured against Robert Wise's 1951 original, but Fox execs said the PG-13 "Earth" opened better than they had anticipated.

"With the holiday playtime coming up, we're going to have a great and profitable run," Fox senior vp distribution Chris Aronson said.

"Earth" also registered $39 million from 90 foreign territories for a worldwide gross of $70 million. Its domestic haul included $3.8 million from Imax giant-screen venues.

Produced for an estimated $80 million, "Earth" attracted audiences skewing 55% male, with 51% of patrons under 25.

Rated PG-13, "Holidays" played best with major-market urban audiences, but its modestly wide 1,671 playdates reflected limited traction with other demos. Helmed by Alfredo De Villa ("Washington Heights"), its ensemble cast includes Alfred Molina, Freddy Rodriguez, John Leguizamo, Debra Messing and Luis Guzman.

"We wish it had done better," Overture distribution topper Kyle Davies said. "But we're hoping it finds its footing as a Christmas perennial."

Voice cast for "Delgo" includes Freddy Prinze Jr. in the title role. Freestyle execs acknowledged disappointment in the film's limp bow.

"This film deserved better but failed to find its target, despite a significant television advertising blitz," Freestyle co-topper Mark Borde said.

Looking ahead, the pre-Christmas frame features three wide openers: Sony's Will Smith starrer "Seven Pounds," Warners' Jim Carrey-toplined "Yes Man" and Universal's animated family feature "The Tale of Despereaux." (partialdiff)
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