'Treasure' tops as 'Juno' jumps

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The rich got richer during the weekend as Disney's Nicolas Cage starrer "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" topped the domestic boxoffice for a third successive session with an estimated $20.2 million, pushing its cume to $171 million.

Sony's Will Smith starrer "I Am Legend" rung up another $16.4 million to grab the frame's silver-medal position and fatten its cume to $228.7 million. Fox Searchlight's modestly budgeted comedy "Juno" finished third with $16.2 million, shaping a $52 million cume.

Directed by Jason Reitman, "Juno" broadened Friday to 1,925 playdates after playing in more limited release over four previous sessions. Searchlight topper Peter Rice said the comedy appears on track to outperform even the specialty unit's best-ever grosser, the 2004 comedy "Sideways," which rung up $73 million.

Elsewhere among the top finishers during the weekend, Fox's family comedy "Alvin and the Chipmunks" gathered up another $16 million, finishing fourth and boosting its four-week store of boxoffice acorns to an enviable $176.7 million.

The frame's only wide opener, Alcon Entertainment's Warner Bros.-distributed "One Missed Call," posted a better-than-expected $13.5 million in fifth place. The PG-13 horror film, which stars Edward Burns and Shannyn Sossamon, drew audiences comprising 55% females, with 34% of patrons under 18.

Warners executive vp Jeff Goldstein said Alcon was "pleased" with the performance and noted the film carried a "modest" production budget.

Universal's Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts starrer "Charlie Wilson's War" grossed $8.2 million in sixth place. Its cume is $52.6 million since bowing the Friday before Christmas.

Warners' Hilary Swank-Gerard Butler romancer "P.S. I Love You" -- another Alcon production -- grossed $8 million in seventh place and moved its cume since a Dec. 21 bow to $39.4 million.

Sony's family fantasy "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep" dropped 31% from its first weekend to $6.3 million in eighth place, with a $30.9 million cume since opening Dec. 25.

Fox's Christmas-bowed "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" dropped 58% from its first weekend with $4.3 million to tumble from the top 10. Its 13-day cume is $36.8 million.

The Weinstein Co./MGM's "The Great Debaters" -- a Denzel Washington-directed and -toplined drama that also debuted on Christmas -- dropped a modest 29% from the previous weekend to gross $4.2 million in fifth place and push its cume to $22 million.

The true story of a successful debating team at a black college in the Jim Crow South, "Debaters" has had a heavily black base of support. But Weinstein co-topper Harvey Weinstein said he has been heartened by a strong recent response from crossover audiences.

"We've started to see some real lift-off," he said.

"Debaters" is scheduled to get a renewed marketing push in advance of the Martin Luther King holiday Jan. 21.



Focus Features' literary adaptation "Atonement," a Working Title production platformed over the past several sessions, added 273 theaters for a total of 583 and grossed $5.1 million, or a solid $8,790 per venue, good for a $19.2 million cume. The Keira Knightley-James McAvoy starrer climbs above 700 runs Friday.

Focus distribution president Jack Foley said the healthy screen average for "Atonement" shows its platformed campaign is working as planned.

"This weekend it was a combination of the existing theaters increasing their grosses over last Saturday and the new markets being extremely successful," he said. "It's going perfectly."

Industrywide, the weekend's $142 million in collective grosses represented a 7% uptick compared with the same frame a year ago, according to Nielsen EDI. Year-to-date, 2008 is off 2%.

Among the weekend's limited players, Warners held its Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman starrer "The Bucket List" in 16 locations and grossed $315,000, or a whopping $19,657 per site, with a $1.3 million cume. "Bucket List" broadens to wide release Friday in about 2,800 theaters.

Paramount Vantage's Daniel Day-Lewis starrer "There Will Be Blood" added 49 theaters for a total of 51 and grossed $1.3 million, or $26,215 per venue, good for a $1.8 million cume ahead of a scheduled expansion to 125 locations Friday. A co-production between Vantage and Miramax, "Blood" on Saturday was voted the year's best film by the National Society of Film Critics.

Vantage's Afghan drama "The Kite Runner" -- a DreamWorks production -- added three theaters for a total of 380 and grossed $1.7 million, or $4,488 per venue, with an $8.7 million cume.

Picturehouse's Spanish-language horror film "The Orphanage" added 23 playdates for a total of 66 and grossed $500,851, or $7,589 per engagement, with a $917,936 cume. "Orphanage" is set to expand Friday to more than 100 runs.

"The Latino genre audience is really supporting the picture in a big way, and that's really important for a subtitled (film)," Picturehouse president Bob Berney said.

Sony Pictures Classics held its Iranian-themed animated feature "Persepolis" in seven locations and grossed $80,058, or $11,437 per site, with a $316,831 cume.

Miramax's Coen brothers adventure "No Country for Old Men" shed 141 theaters for a total of 819 and grossed $1.8 million, or $2,251 per venue, with a $44.8 million cume.

The distributor's drama "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" added 13 playdates for a total of 57 and grossed $342,000, or a solid $6,005 per venue, with a $1.5 million cume.

The Weinstein Co.'s Bob Dylan-inspired "I'm Not There" shed 14 theaters for a total of 79 and grossed $103,000, a thin $1,304 per venue. Its cume is $3.3 million.

The coming frame looks to be the busiest to date in the new boxoffice year. In addition to the scheduled expansion of "Bucket List" into wide release, the session will see three wide releases join the marketplace, trying to elbow aside the holiday holdovers from the top rankings. Sony unspools the Ice Cube starrer "First Sunday," Universal bows the animated feature "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie" and Freestyle debuts the Jason Statham starrer "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale."

Fox had been scheduled to release its "27 Dresses" this coming weekend, but the distributor recently delayed the Katherine Heigl-James Marsden romancer one week to Jan. 18.
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