Hot holiday b.o. moves to 2008

'Legend, ' $33 mil; 'Compass,' $23 mil; 'Treasure,' $20 mil

Judging by the first weekend in 2008, the moviegoing habit is carrying over with the full force of the year-end holiday season as celebrations and school holidays continue in many territories.

The Will Smith sci-fi fantasy "I Am Legend" pulled in $33 million, while New Line's potential new franchise "The Golden Compass" tallied $23.1 million. The sequel "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" became the first film this year to hurdle the benchmark $100 million, and the animated "Alvin and the Chipmunks" sang its way to $15.8 million. Another family-fare film, "Enchanted," rang up $14.5 million, while "Bee Movie" drew in $14.1 million and the sci-fi horror thriller "Alien vs. Predator" corralled $12.5 million.

A key opening for "Legend" was Australia ($8.3 million from 388 prints), which Warner Bros. Pictures International said dominated the market with a 51% share of the top five films. Other openings included Greece ($1.9 million from 80 screens), New Zealand ($1 million from 65) and Argentina ($669,000 from 86). "Legend" held first place in the U.K. for a second weekend, taking in $7.4 million from 457 screens for a market cume to date of $36.4 million. The weekend tally of $33 million from 3,850 screens in 36 territories lifted the cume to $169.3 million.

When "Golden Compass" opened to disappointing domestic numbers, New Line's hope for a new franchise seemed to be going down the drain. But the surprising overseas results may have studio honchos rethinking the potential of author Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy. Over the weekend, "Compass," written and directed by Chris Weitz, earned $23.1 million from 6,679 screens in 57 markets to raise its international gross to $228.2 million. In contrast, the domestic market has only delivered $65.7 million. Oversees grosses so far include $48.1 million from the U.K., $22.5 million from Korea, $22 million from France, $20.5 million from Germany, $18.4 million from Spain and $12.7 million from Italy.

"National Treasure: Book of Secrets" hit $102 million as it unearthed $20.2 million from 4,270 screens in 30 markets. The Jon Turteltaub-directed thriller starring Nicolas Cage became the 68th film in Disney history to top $100 million in the overseas market. In 2007, a record year for the industry overseas, 23 films cleared $100 million, and four reached the industry yardstick in carry-overs from 2006 to 2007. "Treasure" is doing especially well in Russia, where it grossed $4.2 million from 450 screens on its second weekend, a 37% hike for a market cume of $9.6 million, beating the entire run of the first "National Treasure" film by 60%, according to Disney International. In Italy, "Book of Secrets" has brought in $11.6 million in three weekends; Japan, $16 million; Korea, $11 million; and Mexico, $6.6 million.

The family trade continues to flock to "Enchanted," which raised its cume to $138 million after bringing in $14.5 million from 4,712 screens in 34 countries. In four weekends in the U.K., it has brought in $28 million, while six weeks in France has resulted in $21.1 million.

Surprise holiday achiever "Alvin and the Chipmunks" continues to hit pay dirt for 20th Century Fox International, bringing in another $15.8 million from 4,200 screens in 49 markets to hoist its cume to $63.4 million. Australia greeted "Alvin" in the No. 2 spot with $3.5 million from 260 screens, and it was No. 3 in Brazil with $819,000 from 277. Three weekends in France has produced $6.1 million; Germany, $6.3 million; Mexico, $7.6 million; and the U.K., $12.3 million.

"Bee Movie" shot up to $131.7 million after collecting $14.1 million over the weekend from 4,626 screens in 45 territories.

"Alien vs. Predator" is also showing muscle, hitting $35.4 million after racking up $12.5 million from 3,263 screens in 33 markets. France opened to $3 million from 426 screens, and Mexico to $1.7 million from 503.

"American Gangster" moved up to a cume of $72.5 million after picking up $5.4 million from 1,613 dates in 30 territories. "Darjeeling Ltd." took in $1.8 million from 352 screens in 10 countries to reach a cume of $6.5 million. "Charlie Wilson's War" kicked off its international run with $589,092 from 77 screens in six small markets, including a No. 2 opening in Portugal ($328,000 from 50 screens). Other openings included the United Arab Emirates.

According to Universal Pictures International, the film is set to roll out in the next four months, with the U.K. on Jan. 11, France on Jan. 16, Australia on Jan. 24 and Germany on Feb. 7. Tom Hanks and Mike Nichols are in Europe this week for premieres and press days in the U.K., France and Germany.

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" advanced $44.5 million following a weekend take of $1.5 million from 772 screens in 28 countries.

"Atonement" hit $38.5 million after taking in $1.5 million from 298 locations in 14 territories.

"Halloween," which UPI is releasing in Spain, opened to $1 million from 248 screens.

A Brazilian film released by Sony International, "My Name Is Not Johnny," about a drug addict, opened No. 2 in the home country with $1 million from 103 screens.