The Worst Christmas Movies

From painful family reunions to sequels no child asked for to multiple Vince Vaughn and Tim Allen vehicles, these are all the Christmas films that scored less than 30% on the Tomatometer. And to make sure these movies landed on enough critics’ naughty lists to be deemed truly universally loathed, every entry had to have at least 20 reviews for inclusion. This leaves the likes of Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?! out in the cold, but makes plenty of space for Home Alone 3, Christmas With the Kranks, and Deck the Halls. It’s more cinematic coal than you can handle in our guide to the worst Christmas movies ever!

Best Christmas Movies | Worst Christmas Movies
Best and Worst Christmas Horror | Best Foreign Christmas Movies
Rotten Christmas Movies We Love | Modern Christmas Classics

#22

Home Alone 3 (1997)
29%

#22
Adjusted Score: 29795%
Critics Consensus: Macaulay Culkin's precocious charisma is sorely missed in this hollow sequel, which doubles down on the broad comedy while lacking all the hallmarks that made the original a classic.
Synopsis: When an inept group of criminals tries to get a stolen top-secret computer chip through airport security, it ends up... [More]
Directed By: Raja Gosnell

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 31645%
Critics Consensus: Unaccompanied Minors, while featuring credible performances by its mostly young cast, is simply a rehash of other, funnier movies.
Synopsis: When a Christmas Eve blizzard shuts down the airport, five stranded youths take the opportunity to run wild and have... [More]
Directed By: Paul Feig

#20

Noel (2004)
28%

#20
Adjusted Score: 27780%
Critics Consensus: Noel strains for holiday uplift, but -- despite the involvement of an outstanding ensemble cast -- settles for treacly sentiment instead.
Synopsis: It's nearly Christmas in New York City. Rose (Susan Sarandon) is in the hospital with her elderly mother, who's been... [More]
Directed By: Chazz Palminteri

#19

Four Christmases (2008)
25%

#19
Adjusted Score: 29973%
Critics Consensus: Despite a strong cast, this sour holiday comedy suffers from a hackneyed script.
Synopsis: When their plans for an exotic vacation fall apart, unmarried couple Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) must spend... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#18
Adjusted Score: 25125%
Critics Consensus: Neither parent nor child will find any merriment in this mess.
Synopsis: Estranged from his father (Gary Cole), college student Jake (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is lured home to New York for Christmas... [More]
Directed By: Arlene Sanford

#17
Adjusted Score: 22479%
Critics Consensus: The endearingly cheesy Santa Claus Conquers the Martians might just be so naughty it's nice for viewers seeking a sub-competent sci-fi holiday adventure.
Synopsis: Martian ruler Kimar (Leonard Hicks) is upset that the children of Mars are lazy and under the influence of too... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Webster

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 20076%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 19th-century England, a minister's quest to modernize his village puts him at odds with people who believe that whoever... [More]
Directed By: John Stephenson

#15

Fred Claus (2007)
21%

#15
Adjusted Score: 26588%
Critics Consensus: A slew of talent is wasted in this contrived and overly sentimental Christmas film, which can't quite get the balance between slapstick humor and schmaltzy uplift.
Synopsis: Of the two Claus brothers, Fred (Vince Vaughn) is the troublemaker and polar opposite of his saintly sibling, Nicholas (Paul... [More]
Directed By: David Dobkin

#14

Santa Claus (1985)
20%

#14
Adjusted Score: 17877%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In ancient times, a man named Claus (David Huddleston), who delivers toys in his small village, fulfills his destiny to... [More]
Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

#13
Adjusted Score: 20570%
Critics Consensus: It boasts a few laughs, but overall, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas ranks among Perry's least entertaining or substantive works.
Synopsis: Madea (Tyler Perry) accompanies her niece, Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford), to the small town of Buck Tussel to pay a... [More]
Directed By: Tyler Perry

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 20154%
Critics Consensus: The Perfect Holiday is the perfect example of Christmas movie clichés run amok.
Synopsis: Nancy (Gabrielle Union), a divorced mother of three, feels especially lonely during the holidays. Sensing her sadness, Nancy's youngest daughter,... [More]
Directed By: Lance Rivera

#11

Love the Coopers (2015)
18%

#11
Adjusted Score: 22469%
Critics Consensus: Love the Coopers has a talented cast and a uniquely bittersweet blend of holiday cheer in its better moments, but they're all let down by a script content to settle for cloying smarm.
Synopsis: For their annual Christmas Eve celebration, Sam Cooper (John Goodman) and his wife Charlotte (Diane Keaton) welcome four generations of... [More]
Directed By: Jessie Nelson

#10
Adjusted Score: 18145%
Critics Consensus: Playing Jack Frost as an evil cross between Liza Minnelli and Liberace, Martin Short is a welcome presence, but this tired series continues drawing from its bag of bland gags and dumb slapstick.
Synopsis: Christmas cheer turns into holiday chaos when Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), aka Santa, invites his in-laws (Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin) for... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lembeck

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 22493%
Critics Consensus: Arnold Schwarzenegger tries his best, but Jingle All the Way suffers from an uneven tone, shifting wildly from a would-be satire on materialism to an antic, slapstick yuk-fest.
Synopsis: Workaholic Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wants to make things up to his son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), and wife, Liz (Rita... [More]
Directed By: Brian Levant

#8
Adjusted Score: 13815%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Boyd is forced to spend Christmas at his parents' house and has to hit the road with his eccentric father... [More]
Directed By: Tristram Shapeero

#7

Black Christmas (2006)
15%

#7
Adjusted Score: 17355%
Critics Consensus: A gratuitous remake of the 1974 slasher, Black Christmas pumps out the gore and blood with zero creativity, humor, or visual flair.
Synopsis: The holiday season turns deadly for a group of sorority sisters (Katie Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Michelle Trachtenberg)... [More]
Directed By: Glen Morgan

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 13230%
Critics Consensus: An American Carol suffers not so much from its perceived political bias, but from the fact that it simply is not very funny.
Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) makes movies about America's shortcomings and is now embarking on a campaign to abolish... [More]
Directed By: David Zucker

#5

Mixed Nuts (1994)
13%

#5
Adjusted Score: 13454%
Critics Consensus: Mixed Nuts may provoke strong allergic reactions in all but the most undemanding filmgoers -- and the most forgiving Steve Martin fans.
Synopsis: Philip (Steve Martin) manages a suicide-prevention hotline called Lifesavers, assisted by Mrs. Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and Catherine (Rita Wilson). On... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 10795%
Critics Consensus: Surviving Christmas is unpleasant characters attacking each other for 90 minutes before delivering a typical, hollow anti-consumerist message
Synopsis: A wealthy executive, Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) has no close relationships and becomes nostalgic for his childhood home as Christmas... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell

#3

Deck the Halls (2006)
6%

#3
Adjusted Score: 8098%
Critics Consensus: Relying on flat humor and a preposterous plot, Deck the Halls is an unnecessarily mean-spirited holiday movie that does little to put viewers in a holiday mood.
Synopsis: Steve (Matthew Broderick), suburban dad and Christmas enthusiast, finds a wrinkle in his well-ordered existence with the arrival of his... [More]
Directed By: John Whitesell

#2
Adjusted Score: 10574%
Critics Consensus: A mirthless movie as fresh as last year's fruit cake, Christmas with the Kranks is a coarse, garish comedy that promotes conformity.
Synopsis: Finally alone for the holidays, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) plan to eschew the Christmas traditions... [More]
Directed By: Joe Roth

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 597%
Critics Consensus: Misguided, misconceived, and misbegotten on every level, The Nutcracker in 3D is a stunning exercise in astonishing cinematic wrong-headedness.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Unknown Actor
Directed By: Andreas Morell

It’s December, and the weather is (presumably) colder, shopping malls are crowded, and everyone is inviting you to their holiday parties. In other words, we know sometimes you just need to stay home, kick up your feet, and stream some quality TV. With that in mind, here are some choice selections on Netflix that should keep you entertained on your night in.


December 1 – December 3

 

Full Metal Jacket (1987) 92%

Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio star in Stanley Kubrick’s Certified Fresh Vietnam War movie, which takes viewers through a grueling boot camp before dropping them directly into the field of battle.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


Tyson (2008) 85%

James Toback offers up this documentary portrait of the former boxing champ that utilizes intimate interviews to delve into his colorful past.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


While You Were Sleeping (1995) 81%

Sandra Bullock stars in this romantic comedy about a lonely toll booth operator who falls in love with one of her customers and is mistaken for his fiancee when she intervenes in a tragic accident that leaves him comatose.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


The Young Victoria (2009) 76%

Emily blunt and Rupert Friend star in Jean-Marc Vallée’s historical biopic about the relationship between England’s Princess Victoria at age 18 and Prince Albert.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


8 Mile (2002) 75%

Rap superstar Eminem stars in Curtis Hanson’s musical drama about a troubled kid from Detroit trying to survive his environment and make a name for himself in the underground hip hop scene.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


V for Vendetta (2006) 73%

Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving star in this dystopian thriller about a lone freedom fighter plotting a series of revolutionary bombings against a tyrannical government who recruits a young woman to join his cause.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


Exporting Raymond (2010) 72%

Phil Rosenthal’s documentary chronicles his own misadventures that ensued when he, as producer and writer of hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, traveled to Russia to help create a version of the show for Russian audiences.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


The Wackness (2008) 70%

Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby, and Ben Kingsley star in Jonathan Levine’s drama about a high schooler who spends his last summer before college dealing drugs and trying to woo his shrink’s stepdaughter.

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


Hitch (2005) 68%

Will Smith stars as a legendary “date doctor” who’s playing matchmaker for a schlub (Kevin James) and his celebrity crush (Amber Valletta) while wooing a gossip columnist (Eva Mendes).

Available 12/1 on: Netflix


December 4 – December 10

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) 85%

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and the rest of the crew return for the second installment of this wildly popular Marvel space adventure, which finds the Guardians struggling to keep their family united in the face of a grave galactic threat and secrets from their pasts.

Available 12/5 on: Netflix


The Crown: Season 2 (2017) 89%

This Netflix original series charts Queen Elizabeth II’s life from her 1947 wedding to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to the present day.

Available 12/8 on: Netflix


December 11 – December 17

 

The Magicians: Season 2 (2017) 91%

This SyFy fantasy series centers on two friends who take wildly divergent paths to learn magic — critics found the second season a great improvement on the first.

Available 12/11 on: Netflix


The Santa Clause (1994) 72%

Tim Allen stars in this holiday family comedy about a divorced father who accidentally kills Santa Claus and inherits his job. The film’s two sequels are also available to stream.

Available 12/12 on: The Santa ClauseThe Santa Clause 2The Santa Clause 3


Halt and Catch Fire: Season 4 (2017) 100%

Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, and Kerry Bishé star in AMC’s drama about the wild and wooly early days of the personal computer revolution. The entire series will be available to stream.

Available 12/14 on: Netflix


December 18 – December 24

Peaky Blinders: Season 4 (2017) 89%

Cillian Murphy stars in this BBC period drama (available as a Netflix original) about the rise of the Peaky Blinders gang in post-WWI England.

Available 12/21 on: Netflix


Bright (2017) 27%

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton star in David Ayer’s Netflix original sci-fi crime drama about a pair of cops — one human and one orc — who find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous plot involving a mysterious elf and an ancient relic of untold power.

Available 12/22 on: Netflix


Creep 2 (2017) 100%

In this sequel to the 2014 indie horror film, Mark Duplass reprises his role as the titular sinister weirdo, who this time allows a video artist to chronicle his life… and discover he’s not exactly what he seems to be.

Available 12/23 on: Netflix


December 25 – December 31

Planet Earth II: Miniseries (2016) 100%

David Attenborough returns to narrate this second installment of the groundbreaking nature series, ten years in the making, which depicts rarely seen animals and animal behaviors in far-flung locations across the world.

Available 12/25 on: Netflix


Black Mirror: Season 4 (2017) 86%

This anthology series explores the tricky relationship between society and technology, often depicting a heightened reality set in contemporary times or the ominous possibilities of the future.

Available 12/25 on: Netflix


Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 2 (2017)

In this Netflix original series, the one-time “Science Guy” explores various topics related to science along with a panel of experts and celebrities.

Available 12/25 on: Netflix

At 48% on the Tomatometer, Snow White and The Huntsman didn’t clear many critical benchmarks in the fantasy genre back in 2012. But The Huntsman: Winter’s War, its Kristen Stewart-less prequel, looks like it’ll fall even shorter, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: 24 worst fantasy movie sequels (or prequels, or sidequels, or spinoffs, or…) by Tomatometer!

Christmas is just around the corner and you know what that means: holiday mirth, exchanging gifts, eating foods you wouldn’t touch at any other time in the year, and, yes, ugly sweaters!  The holiday tradition inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, which looks at some of the most compelling knitted monstrosities from film and TV history.

Try and imagine, if you will, how you might have felt if you had woken up one night during your childhood to find Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson standing over your bed, holding a bag full of teeth.

That’s the goofy premise hinted at by The Tooth Fairy, which, according to Variety, will find Johnson playing “an ordinary man who’s brought in to try to save the tooth fairy kingdom.” The 20th Century Fox comedy is scheduled to start rolling in August.

Directed by Michael Lembeck (The Santa Clause 2, The Santa Clause 3) and scripted by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Joshua Sternin, and Jeffrey Ventimilia, The Tooth Fairy will reunite Johnson with producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, who worked with him on The Game Plan.

Before heading to the tooth fairy’s kingdom, Johnson will be seen in this summer’s Get Smart and Disney’s Witch Mountain sequel/reboot/remake/whatever.

Source: Variety

Good news, blockbuster fans: this week in home entertainment features a crowd-pleasing toe-tapper (Hairspray), the return of John McClane (Live Free or Die Hard), another harrowing star turn by Christian Bale (Rescue Dawn), and plenty more (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, Ghosts of Cite Soleil, Chappelle’s Show Collection). Just watch out for that one early holiday dud (The Santa Clause 3: Escape Clause) — unless 14 percent Tomatometers are your cup of eggnog.



Hairspray


Tomatometer: 93%

The movie musical is officially back, as evinced by this year’s Hairspray — a big screen version of a Broadway remake of the John Waters cult film, of all things. Newcomer Nikki Blonsky shines as the chubby yet effervescent teenager who teaches all of 1960s Baltimore about acceptance, equality, the mashed potato and the pony. If only impossibly teased hair and a megawatt smile were all it took to land a heartthrob like Zac Efron! Pick up the two-disc DVD release for an added behind-the-scenes documentary that charts the film’s journey from film to stage to film, song sing-along tracks, dance routine tutorials, and more. Then, go rent Waters’ original Hairspray to see what a real man (Divine) looks like in drag. (Take that, Travolta-in-a-fat-suit!)

 



Live Free or Die Hard


Tomatometer: 80%

Bruce Willis has long had difficulty dying (not so his career – zing!) when it comes to this franchise, and the twelve years since Die Hard With a Vengeance have not taught him any better to let loose his mortal coil at the hands of evil thieves, terrorists, and the like. Enter Live Free or Die Hard, a John McClane joint for the 21st century, featuring the most terrifying of 21st century foes: Internet hackers! In line with this progressive techno-thinking, the 20th Century Fox release includes a digital copy of the film that you can download onto your computer or portable DVD player, or whatever other newfangled gadgets the kids are using these days. (Bonus for grown-ups: an unrated version of the film in addition to the theatrical PG-13 cut. Yippee-ki-yay!)

 



Rescue Dawn


Tomatometer: 90%

In 1997, Werner Herzog documented the real-life prisoner of war experience of a German-born American pilot named Dieter Dengler in his acclaimed Little Dieter Needs to Fly; ten years later, Herzog reviss the inherently dramatic tale as a feature film starring Christian Bale. The result is not only another critically lauded film, but the director’s most commercial and accessible work to date. Watch it for a harrowing Vietnam War survival tale — and so you can finally drop some Herzog knowledge on even the snootiest of cinephiles at this year’s holiday party! 

 




Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse


Tomatometer: 100%


Much more than your average making-of feature, Hearts of Darkness — on DVD for the first time this week — gets up close and personal with director Francis Ford Coppola during the production of his 1979 Vietnam epic, Apocalypse Now. While Coppola was shooting the modern classic, about men going mad in the midst of war, his wife Eleanor took notes and shot on-set footage of the cast and crew; her documentation of how the overstuffed project, skyrocketing budgets, and production delays threatened the film and the sanity of Coppola himself became this award-winning 1991 documentary. Co-directors Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper (who would go on to direct 2003’s Mayor of the Sunset Strip and last year’s Factory Girl) contributed extensive interviews, and the film went on to earn praise at Cannes. The DVD includes a new commentary track by Coppola as well as an hour-long accompaniment on his new film, Youth Without Youth.  

 


A Bounty of Seasonal Offerings

Angel-A
Tomatometer: 44%

Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element) takes his penchant for action down a notch in this light charmer about a down-on-his-luck con man saved from suicide by a chain-smoking statuesque blonde. Although critics were split, this Paris-set Wings of Desire-meets-It’s a Wonderful Life is worth a view, if only for the breathtaking experience of seeing the City of Lights shot in beautiful monochrome.

Manufactured Landscapes
Tomatometer: 83%


Director Jennifer Baichwal filmed acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky as he traversed Asia shooting various industrial landscapes; her award-winning documentary captures not only the striking imprint of global progress on the earth, but provokes thought by using beautiful images composed, ironically, of industrial wastelands.



Ghosts of Cite Soleil

Tomatometer: 80%

A few months before the 2004 military coup that deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, filmmaker Asger Leth (son of Danish director Jorgen Leth) embedded himself and a small crew deep within the slums of Cite Soleil, filming the complicated relationship between two fatefully charismatic gang leader brothers. The result — a powerful and terrifying glimpse into lives dictated by violence, guided by American gangsta rap — is an incredibly intimate and surprisingly humanizing portrait of brotherhood, poverty, and the quagmire that is modern Haiti.



Chappelle’s Show Series Collection

Tomatometer: 80%

Combining Season One, Season Two, and the “Lost Episodes” of Dave Chappelle‘s masterfully amusing sketch comedy show, this six-disc box set is an arguable necessity for Chappelle enthusiasts. But while the Comedy Central release offers up all 28 episodes, audio commentaries, bloopers, unaired sketches, stand-up, and even two new True Hollywood Stories by Charlie Murphy, one wonders if any true Chappelle fan should put more profits in the pockets of a network that effectively cancelled all possibility of Chappelle’s return to the show by running the unfinished third season to begin with.


Enjoy The Thanksgiving Turkey





The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Tomatometer: 14%

Escape from this Clause.” “Ho Ho Hum.” The reviews write themselves, but just for added measure, here’s what else is in store should you pick up this new release: Jack Frost played with nuance by Martin Short as if the love child of Liberace and Liza Minnelli, Tim Allen phoning in his third performance as a reluctant Santa, and a plot shamefully derivative of such holiday classics as It’s a Wonderful Life and even The Nightmare Before Christmas.  

Happy renting to us, every one!

One animated film will bump another from the number one spot at the North American box office. But the new warrior Beowulf is no B movie but an A-list production from an Oscar-winning director offering action audiences something new. Also opening this weekend but likely to see more modest grosses are the family pic Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera. Without a compelling selection of great films, the marketplace should once again fall well below year-ago levels.

Paramount looks to capture the box office crown without the help of DreamWorks this time with Beowulf, a computer-animated action adventure based on the ancient epic poem. The PG-13 film comes from Robert Zemeckis who expands upon the motion capture technology he used in 2004’s The Polar Express. This time around his film is aimed at somewhat older moviegoers as young children will be too frightened by the violence, gore, and yes, nudity. Beowulf aims to pry 14-year-old boys away from their videogame systems and into the multiplexes with a new type of action film that is presented in 3D in selected theaters. Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie lend their voices and digital likenesses.

The marketing has been terrific on the part of the studio. The core audience of young males is excited and ready to buy tickets and the film might even pull in part of the literary crowd curious to see how this classic tale is adapted to the big screen. The marketplace needs something like this now with hits like American Gangster skewing more adult and kidpics like Bee Movie not offering enough violence. If last December’s Eragon could open to $23.2M, then surely Beowulf can target the same crowd and go higher. Launching in over 2,800 theaters, Beowulf could conquer the box office this weekend with about $32M.


The digitally-altered likeness of Ray Winstone in Beowulf

Dustin Hoffman stars as the eccentric owner of a magical toy store in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, a new entry for family audiences from Fox. The G-rated film co-stars Natalie Portman and Jason Bateman. With Bee Movie and Fred Claus already out there doing solid business, and likely to collect a combined $30M this weekend, competition for Emporium will be intense. Bad reviews will make parents hesitate, but if kids respond to the TV commercials, then they will find a way to force their parents to take them. Opening wide in around 3,200 locations, Mr. Magorium could bow to about $11M this weekend and try to remain a relevant choice over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday session.


Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

To counter his current role as a brutal killer in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem stars in the romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera. The R-rated tale from New Line is getting a moderately wide release and will play to an older adult audience with a female skew. The Oscar buzz Bardem has been receiving for Country could rub off on Cholera helping its case. And Latino audiences are being counted on to show up as are fans of Oprah who has endorsed the book that the film is based on. But overall, the Columbia-set film has not generated enough excitement to deliver a solid debut. Plus poor reviews will turn away much of the target audience. A slot on the lower end of the top ten could await. Opening in about 800 theaters, Love in the Time of Cholera might gross around $3M over the weekend.


Love in the Time of Cholera

Bee Movie should fall from its spot at the top of the box office and slide by about 30% since there is not too much new competition for young kids. A weekend tally of $18M could result giving Paramount $97M to date. Universal’s American Gangster should drop by 40% to about $14.5M giving the crime saga a total of $102M. The holiday comedy Fred Claus could dip by 35% in its second weekend. That would leave the Warner Bros. release with a weekend take of $12M and a ten-day cume of $35.5M.

LAST YEAR: In a major pre-holiday showdown, the penguin toon Happy Feet edged out the new James Bond film Casino Royale for the number one spot with a strong opening of $41.5M. The Warner Bros. family hit went on to collect $198M domestically and a stellar $384M worldwide. Sony’s relaunched spy series still posted a muscular debut grossing $40.8M over the weekend on its way to $167M domestically and a sensational $595M globally making the Daniel Craig-starrer the top-grossing 007 flick ever. After two weeks on top, Fox’s Borat slipped to third with $14.6M. Rounding out the top five were Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 with $8.3M and the Sony release Stranger Than Fiction with $6.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Vince Vaughn and Tom Cruise go head to head at the North American box office this weekend with their latest releases. The dodgeball champ goes for holiday laughs with Fred Claus while the top gun offers up a serious political tale in Lions For Lambs. For those looking for a scare, the horror flick P2 also attacks the multiplexes. Add in last weekend’s holdover titles and the marketplace should deliver three $20M+ grossers for the first time since mid-July.

Taming down their comedy for a family audience, the Wedding Crashers team of Vince Vaughn and director David Dobkin offer up Christmas cheer with the holiday comedy Fred Claus. The PG-rated pic features the comic actor playing the brother of Santa (Paul Giamatti). Rachel Weisz and Kathy Bates both scored a ‘with’ credit while Kevin Spacey‘s agents landed the coveted ‘and’ credit for their client. Family audiences will make up the bulk of the business but Warner Bros. is hoping to draw teens and young adults with Vaughn’s humor.

Reviews have been sour, but these types of holiday films are sold more on the comedy and the marketing. The studio is giving Claus a big jolly push and there are no major live-action options for parents to take their kids to. Bee Movie‘s second weekend will provide most of the competition, but usually two high-profile star-driven family pics can co-exist at this time of year. Debuting ultrawide in more than 3,400 theaters, Fred Claus may laugh up about $28M this weekend.


Vince Vaughn and some friends in Fred Claus

Studio boss Tom Cruise co-stars with Oscar winners Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in the new politically-themed drama Lions For Lambs from United Artists and MGM. Directed by Redford, the R-rated film examines the U.S. government’s involvement in the Middle East through three different stories. Cruise plays a hotshot senator who is interviewed by a veteran journalist, played by Streep. Redford stars as a wise college professor discussing the life with a star student. And in smaller roles, Derek Luke and Michael Peña are cast as university students determined to join the army to make this a better world.

In a smart move, Lions has downplayed its political storyline involving the Middle East as most others that have gone down that path have crashed and burned at the box office this fall. Audiences have told Hollywood on numerous occasions that they are not interested in paying top dollar for that kind of entertainment. Instead, the film is being positioned as a dramatic thriller with great acting performances almost the same way Cruise’s A Few Good Men was marketed 15 years ago. Lions will skew older than most other releases in the marketplace and will face intense competition for adults from American Gangster. Plus bad reviews will have a big impact too since the target audience plays close attention to the opinions of critics. This could very well be Tom Cruise’s lowest-grossing film in ages. Landing in 2,200 locations, Lions For Lambs might debut with around $10M.


Lions For Lambs

The horror genre discovers a new location to find fear in – the parking garage! The new suspense thriller P2 from Summit Entertainment tells of a trapped woman on Christmas Eve who faces a security guard that stalks her. The R-rated pic will appeal to the few who did not get their fill of fright flicks during October. With no starpower and only a moderate push on the marketing side, don’t expect big numbers here. Most genre fans will wait for the DVD. P2 opens in about 2,000 theaters and could debut with around $3M over the weekend.


P2

After a powerhouse debut, American Gangster should witness a sizable drop in its second frame. Good word-of-mouth and Oscar buzz will prevent the decline from being too high though. A 45% fall would give the Ridley Scott pic roughly $24M for the weekend and a rock solid ten-day cume of $80M. Kidpics usually hold up well in early November so a slim decline for Bee Movie could result. Monday’s observance of Veterans Day will see many schools close and help give Sunday a boost too. Look for Paramount to see a 30% drop to about $27M for the Jerry Seinfeld toon which would raise the total to a healthy $75M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Moviegoers kept annoying friends with their best Kazakh impressions as Borat tripled its theatercount and remained at number one for the second week with $28.3M for Fox. Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 and Paramount’s Flushed Away enjoyed sensational holds and stayed put in their spots as well with $16.9M and $16.6M, respectively. Will Ferrell‘s Stranger Than Fiction bowed in fourth with $13.4M on its way to $40.1M for Sony. Lionsgate rounded out the top five with Saw III with $7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Following a sluggish fall season, November kicks off with a bang this weekend with two high profile films both reaching for the number one spot while appealing to vastly different audiences. Paramount and DreamWorks target kids with the animated comedy Bee Movie from Jerry Seinfeld while Universal goes after adult audiences with its crime drama American Gangster which pits Denzel Washington against Russell Crowe. With little overlap in business, the overall North American box office should surge and finally beat out year-ago levels leading to a solid kickoff for the holiday movie season.

A decade after conquering the television world, Jerry Seinfeld aims to take over the land of film with Bee Movie. The PG-rated toon tells the story of a bee that must try to save his world from those nasty humans that take their honey. Also lending vocal talents are Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Oprah Winfrey, and Chris Rock who snagged the coveted ‘and’ credit for what amounts to about 60 seconds of dialogue. Timing for the Paramount/DreamWorks release is as good as it gets. Not only is early November a hot time for kids movies to score at the box office but the marketplace has suffered a virtual drought when it comes to family-friendly entertainment this fall with The Game Plan being the only major contender. Parents are dying to take their kids to something else, anything else.

Bee Movie falls into the lucrative category of digitally animated comedies about talking creatures featuring the voice of a popular comedian. Last November’s Happy Feet with Robin Williams opened to $41.5M, the previous year’s Chicken Little bowed to $40M, and 2004’s Shark Tale debuted with $47.6M. Bee has the slick animation and funny situations that kids like but also features humor that adults will enjoy too so it will play to a broad audience. And the millions of Seinfeld fans that have had nothing but DVD box sets every Thanksgiving will finally have some new material they can check out from their favorite comic. Critics have not been very kind but that should not affect the grosses that much. The studio’s marketing blitz will be enough to make children demand a trip to the local megaplex. With a highly commercial product, no competition for the family audience, and an ultrawide launch in over 3,500 theaters, Bee Movie could win the box office battle this weekend and gross about $42M.


Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie

Boasting a much higher bodycount this weekend is Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe which will shoot up some solid numbers from adult audiences. The R-rated drama tells the true story of Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas who built up a mammoth empire selling heroin. Crowe plays the detective out to shut him down. Starpower from the three names, all of whom have won or been nominated for Oscars multiple times, will be the driving force at the turnstiles. Universal’s $90M+ production also has garnered strong reviews which will help the cause and has been backed by an effective marketing push. The running time of nearly two hours and forty minutes will cut back on the amount of times each auditorium can play the film. Even multiplexes that double-screen the picture will probably run out of seats on Friday and Saturday nights.

Gangster should play out like a Denzel movie more than anything else since his box office track record is the strongest and has more consistency than those of Scott and Crowe. Having scored ten career number one openings to date, Washington has seen his top bow come from last year’s Inside Man which debuted to $29M and a $10,275 average. Last fall’s organized crime hit The Departed opened to $26.9M and a $8,912 average and makes for a good comparison given its genre, starpower, acclaim, rating, and length. Gangster will attract a larger African American audience than Scorsese‘s award winner did so an opening north of $30M seems likely. Appeal to men and women will be equally strong. Many adult dramas have struggled at the box office this fall but American Gangster has the firepower to go out there and pull in paying audiences. Plus the weekend’s other major offerings will not eat into its customer base by too much. Heading into 3,054 theaters, American Gangster might debut with around $34M this weekend.


Washington and Crowe in American Gangster

After starring in the year’s second highest grossing horror film 1408, John Cusack hits the big screen again in the family drama Martian Child. The PG-rated film finds the actor playing a writer whose adopted son claims to be from Mars. Parents looking for a movie that they can see with their kids this weekend will be lining up for Jerry and his insect pals so Child will face an uphill battle. New Line hopes that there will be room in the marketplace for a live-action pic for kids but even The Game Plan in its sixth session will be a force to be reckoned with. Invading over 2,000 theaters, Martian Child might take in roughly $6M.


John Cusack in The Martian Child

Following its strong top spot launch, the horror flick Saw IV is sure to fall hard on the second weekend. Sophomore drops amounted to 47% for Saw II and 56% for Saw III and the decline should get even larger for the fourth installment. A 60% plunge would give Lionsgate about $13M for the frame and a ten-day cume of $51M.

Look for a better hold from Steve Carell‘s dramedy Dan in Real Life. The Buena Vista title enjoyed a solid average and has generated good word-of-mouth. The weekend’s new releases may not provide too much competition so a decline of 35% could result. That would put Dan at around $7.5M for a total of $22M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Crashing into multiplexes on a tidal wave of buzz was the raunchy comedy Borat which only debuted in 837 theaters but scored a potent top spot bow of $26.5M for a sizzling average of $31,607. The Fox blockbuster was the only film in 2006 to hit number one while playing in less than 2,000 venues. Final grosses reached $128.5M domestically and over $260M worldwide. Two new kidpics split the family audience and followed in second and third. Disney’s Tim Allen sequel The Santa Clause 3 bowed to $19.5M on its way to $84.5M while Paramount’s animated comedy Flushed Away debuted close behind with $18.8M before finishing with $64.5M. Falling to fourth was Saw III with $14.8M for Lionsgate while the Warner Bros. crime thriller The Departed rounded out the top five with $7.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com,

A wave of new releases hits the multilplexes on Friday as the North American box office looks to bounce back after a slugglish weekend and get the final month of the year started with a bang.

Mel Gibson‘s ultraviolent historical epic "Apocalypto" hits theaters nationwide while his "What Women Want" director Nancy Meyers counters with the feel-good romantic comedy "The Holiday" starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. The latter’s iceberg lover Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the new political thriller "Blood Diamond" and kids too young for all those flicks will be offered the family comedy "Unaccompanied Minors."

Mel Gibson once again plays tricks on the box office bringing forth one of the most unpredictable grossers of the year in "Apocalypto." The R-rated film examines the end of the once-great Mayan civilization from five centuries ago with the story of one brave man, captured by warriors and set to be sacrificed, who must break free and rescue his pregnant wife and young son. As one of the bloodiest and most violent films of 2006, the Buena Vista release is also one of the most challenging to market. Like the director’s last effort, 2004’s smash hit "The Passion of the Christ," "Apocalypto" is made in a language now dead and is subtitled all the way through. But whereas "Passion" had some small level of starpower, Gibson’s new offering boasts a cast of unknowns including many non-actors.

Selling a subtitled film with no stars about a part of history that few today are talking about is risky enough. But Gibson’s arrest over the summer for drunk driving and his anti-Jewish remarks led to horrible PR for "Apocalypto’s" only marketable asset. A few weeks ago, this film looked like it would have a tough road to travel in order to succeed. But like with "Passion," targeted marketing at those audience segments most likely to embrace the pic has helped fuel positive buzz and even good reviews have sparked more interest, not only with moviegoers, but also with exhibitors. Disney upped its opening weekend run from 2,000 to 2,500 theaters as the exhibition community is showing more confidence in the box office potential of the film. "Passion" also saw its theater bookings jump in the final weeks before launching.

Because of Gibson’s summer escapade, there are some who cannot be convinced to spend money and time on a Mel movie. However, the controversy has given "Apocalypto" a ton of free media exposure over the last couple of months and curiosity has grown. Plus the studio has wisely targeted the large Latino audience which never gets to see a big Hollywood epic made about its ancient history. They came out in big numbers for "Passion" and are expected to show up again this weekend. Also there are moviegoers sick of wasting time and money on sequels and remakes who want something fresh and unique that are looking at the Mayan adventure as an experience they can’t get anywhere else. It will be a closely-watched opening for "Apocalypto," but a weekend tally of about $15M could result giving Gibson a reasonable shot at scoring back-to-back number one hits with foreign language movies.

Mel Gibson’s "Apocalypto."

Moviegoers in search of less bloodshed and a lower body count this weekend will be checking out the new romantic comedy "The Holiday" which stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two frustrated professionals who decide to swap homes in order to get away from their woes. The PG-13 film finds Diaz going to snowy England while Winslet’s character heads to sunny Los Angeles. Jude Law and Jack Black play the love interests in the Nancy Meyers film. "Holiday" boasts plenty of starpower even though the casting of Nacho Libre in a date movie will have many scratching their heads. Teenage girls and adult women will make up the primary audience, but male interest will be there too thanks to the sassy Diaz who remains a big box office pull with both genders.

Female audiences have been neglected in recent weeks with most major grossers tapping into male or family audiences. The December marketplace will welcome a multi-star romantic comedy set during the Christmas season, however the whites-only casting policy may prevent a more diverse turnout. Sony offered sneak previews last Saturday to boost awareness and word-of-mouth. "Holiday" looks to reach the same crowds that came out for previous mid-December romantic comedies like last year’s "The Family Stone" ($12.5M opening), Meyers’ 2003 hit "Something’s Gotta Give" ($16.1M), and 2002’s Yankee-Brit combo "Two Weeks Notice" ($14.3M). "The Holiday" should receive good cheer from ticket buyers and take in roughly $15M this weekend.

Kate Winslet and Jack Black in "The Holiday."

Like this weekend’s Mel Gibson epic, Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film "Blood Diamond" is also a violent tale of a man whose village is ransacked by warlords and who must fight to retrieve his wife and family. This time, the action takes place only seven years ago in the African nation of Sierra Leone where rebels fight to protect their illegal diamond trade. Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly co-star in the R-rated film directed by Ed Zwick ("The Last Samurai," "Glory"). Warner Bros. has poured some major marketing dollars into hyping up its new political thriller and like most major releases these days, "Blood Diamond" has some controversy of its own which the studio hopes will help generate more interest. Many stories have been written about how the film might impact the global diamond industry as more Americans (by far the world’s largest consumers of the gem) learn about how conflict diamonds make their way into the market.

Story and starpower should be the main factors at the box office, however. DiCaprio has pull and Hounsou has been getting lots of notice for this role including winning the Best Supporting Actor award from the National Board of Review this week. A year ago this weekend, DiCaprio’s "Departed" foe Matt Damon teamed up with George Clooney for the international political saga "Syriana" which went nationwide with a $11.7M opening from 1,752 theaters for a $6,699 average. With mixed reviews and only 158 more theaters, "Blood Diamond" could find itself in the same neighborhood as it will appeal to much the same audience. Young women who dig the "Titanic" boy and want more upbeat entertainment may get steered over to "The Holiday" and young men who seek screen violence will find much more of it in "Apocalypto" so competition will be fierce this weekend. Opening in 1,910 theaters, "Blood Diamond" might shine with around $12M this weekend.

Leo and Djimon in "Blood Diamond."

Kids have just one new movie aimed at them this weekend. Warner Bros. offers up its second wide release of the frame with "Unaccompanied Minors," a story about a group of children causing chaos when left behind at an airport. The PG-rated film will play exclusively to the family crowd and with "Happy Feet," "Deck the Halls," and even "The Santa Clause 3" still lingering in the marketplace, competition will be tight. Lewis Black and Wilmer Valderrama are the only major names here so starpower will not be much of a factor in drawing in paying customers. "Minors" just does not have enough bells and whistles to rise above the crowded arena. Although the film opens with the most number of theaters, it may end up with the worst gross among the newbies. "Unaccompanied Minors" sneaks into 2,775 sites and could take in about $9M.

A group of kids up to airport hijinks in "Unaccompanied Minors."

After a three-week party atop the box office charts, "Happy Feet" will dance its way down a couple of notches thanks to the wave of new product. "Unaccompanied Minors" will be the only true competitor so the drop should not be too hard. A 35% fall to about $11M could result giving Warner Bros. $136M overall.

James Bond has also been celebrating a solid box office run with its three straight silver medals and is hoping to surpass "The Devil Wears Prada" ($124.7M) and "Over the Hedge" ($155M) to eventually become the top-grossing film of 2006 to not reach the number one spot. This weekend, a 40% decline could be in order giving Agent 007 around $9M for the session pushing the cume for Sony to $129M.

LAST YEAR: Making a big splash at the box office was "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" which bowed to a ferocious $65.6M for the second largest December opening in history. Disney’s effects-filled adventure went on to capture $291.7M domestically and a stunning $750M worldwide. Opening far back in the runnerup spot, but still posting solid numbers, was the oil industry drama "Syriana" with $11.7M and a $6,699 average. The Warner Bros. release went on to gross $50.8M domestically and $93M globally. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" dropped to third after three weeks at number one and grossed $10.3M. The Johnny Cash flick "Walk the Line" followed with $5.7M and the family comedy "Yours, Mine & Ours" rounded out the top five with $5.1M. Debuting in limited release with explosive averages were "Memoirs of a Geisha" with a $85,313 average from eight locations and "Brokeback Mountain" with a $109,485 average from only five theaters. Final domestic grosses reached $57M and $83M and each won three Oscars.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

In what was a very close race for box office supremacy, the dancing penguin cartoon Happy Feet narrowly edged out a strong debut for the new James Bond actioner Casino Royale for the number one spot in North America this weekend.

Final numbers will be released on Monday after all Sunday ticket sales are counted up, but the animated adventure is still expected to lead by a slim margin. If estimates hold, the frame will mark only the second time in box office history that two films have opened with over $40M each on the same weekend. The potent pair also helped to push the top ten to its highest level in four months.

The mighty penguins of Happy Feet flexed their muscles and took over the number one spot this weekend opening to an estimated $42.3M. Warner Bros. launched the computer-animated film in an ultrawide 3,804 locations and averaged a stellar $11,125 per theater. The PG-rated pic finds a young penguin named Mumble trying to find his place in the world and features the voices of Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman. The studio is estimating a optimistically slim Saturday-to-Sunday decline of only 14%.

Happy Feet was backed by a massive marketing campaign and beat out the openings of other recent computer-animated kids movies like DreamWorks’ Over the Hedge ($38.5M), Disney’s Chicken Little ($40M), and Fox’s Robots ($36M). However, it did not reach the Pixar territory of Cars ($60.1M) and The Incredibles ($70.5M). But with competing kids movies The Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away still in the top five, Happy Feet performed as well as expected given the choices that the target audience has. With the Thanksgiving school holidays approaching, the $100M penguin pic should enjoy a robust sophomore frame.

After a four-year hiatus, Sony and MGM restarted the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale and generated an impressive $40.6M over the weekend, according to estimates, settling in for a close second place finish. The Daniel Craig starrer generated the best per-theater average among all wide releases with a potent $11,823 from 3,434 sites. It was the second biggest opening ever for the franchise trailing the $47.1M bow of the last installment, 2002’s Die Another Day. Casino was never expected to reach the heights of Die since it had a new and mostly unknown star in the lead and no famous co-star like Halle Berry to add more ammunition. Casino did attract rave reviews from critics which helped to sell the idea of a non-Pierce Brosnan Bond film to an American audience that was unfamiliar with Craig.

Brosnan’s first Bond film Goldeneye, which opened on the same weekend in 1995 and was also directed by Martin Campbell, bowed to $26.2M from 2,667 theaters for a $9,826 average. At today’s ticket prices, that would translate to an opening weekend average of roughly $13,000. Brosnan’s future Agent 007 flicks would each post larger openings so Craig, who is contracted for at least two more films, could follow suit and see even bigger grosses in the years ahead as audiences become more comfortable with him. The next adventure is already slated for a November 7, 2008 launch.

Sony’s research showed that Casino Royale’s audience was 55% male and 57% 25 and older. Around the world, Bond dominated the box office with even greater results opening at number one in 27 markets with an estimated $42.2M overseas. The U.K. led the field with a spectacular $25.6M bow.

Following its two-week reign over the U. S. and A., Borat dropped to third place collecting an estimated $14.4M in its third weekend of release. Down 49% from last weekend, the Fox comedy has lifted its cume to a stellar $90.5M in 17 days and could cross the century mark by Thanksgiving Day. Budgeted at only $18M (plus the cost of litigating its many current lawsuits), Borat looks to finish in the neighborhood of $125M domestically.

The two new films topping the charts helped to give most holdover films some hefty declines. Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 dropped 52% to an estimated $8.2M in its third weekend for a cume to date of $51.6M. After two weeks in third place, the animated pic Flushed Away got hit hard by the dancing penguins and dropped to fifth with an estimated $6.8M. Down a steep 59%, the Paramount/DreamWorks venture raised its sum to $48.8M.

The Will Ferrell comedy Stranger Than Fiction had a tough sophomore frame grossing an estimated $6.6M, off 51%, to give Sony a ten-day total of $22.9M. Budgeted at under $30M, the Marc Forster-directed pic should find its way to $35-40M. The cross-continent drama Babel fell 48% in its second weekend of wide release and captured an estimated $2.9M putting the total at $12M for Paramount Vantage. After scorching results in limited release, the Brad PittCate Blanchett film is having a hard time competing on a nationwide scale.

The horror sequel Saw III followed with an estimated $2.8M, tumbling 60%, putting Lionsgate’s cume at $74.9M. Warner Bros. grossed an estimated $2.6M for The Departed which declined by 50% in its seventh mission giving Martin Scorsese‘s top-grossing film $113.9M to date.

Creeping into tenth place was the experimental film festival called After Dark’s Horror Fest – 8 Films to Die For with an estimated weekend gross of $2.5M. The distributor offered eight different low-budget fright flicks throughout the weekend in 488 locations averaging a solid $5,086. With so many titles, many fans were encouraged to buy more than one ticket throughout the frame. Freestyle Releasing handled distribution.

Debuting poorly outside of the top ten was the jailhouse comedy Let’s Go To Prison which locked up an estimated $2.1M in ticket sales from 1,495 locations for a dismal $1,410 average. According to its distributor Universal, the R-rated revenge comedy played mostly to young men with studio research showing that 67% of the audience was under the age of 25 and 59% was male.

Three high profile films premiered in limited release with varying results. MGM platformed The Weinstein Co. political drama Bobby in only two theaters and grossed an estimated $67,000 for a potent $33,500 average. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, the star-studded film about the day Robert Kennedy was assassinated boasts a cast featuring Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Demi Moore, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Ashton Kutcher, and Martin Sheen. The R-rated film expands nationwide on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

Also opening to strong results was Warner Independent’s film industry comedy For Your Consideration which debuted in 23 theaters with an estimated $394,000 for a solid $17,130 average. The Christopher Guest-directed film launched in a dozen cities and will widen to over 600 runs nationwide on Wednesday. The filmmaker’s last picture A Mighty Wind had wider distribution and opened to $2.1M from 133 theaters for a $15,881 average in April of 2003 on its way to a $17.8M overall take.

Arthouse moviegoers did not have an appetite for Fox Searchlight’s junk food industry pic Fast Food Nation which debuted in 321 theaters with an estimated $390,000 for a poor $1,215 average. Starring Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette, the R-rated film attracted mixed reviews from critics.

Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The magician pic The Prestige took in an estimated $2M in its fifth frame, down 58%, boosting the cume to $49.4M. Look for a final tally of around $54M for the Buena Vista hit.

A pair of star-driven flops that opened last week crumbled in their sophomore frames losing more than half of their audience. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s suspense thriller The Return grossed an estimated $1.7M, down 62%, for a measly total of $6.9M after ten days. Russell Crowe‘s stab at a romantic comedy, Fox’s A Good Year, fell 56% to an estimated $1.6M putting its total at $6.4M. An embarrassing final total of about $9M should result for each pic.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $129.7M which was down a hefty 23% from last year when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opened at number one with a jaw-dropping $102.3M; and down 7% from 2004 when National Treasure debuted in the top spot with $35.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

It’s a box office battle royale at the multiplexes this weekend as two guys in penguin suits fight over the number one spot with their new releases.

Warner Bros. offers the animated kids movie "Happy Feet" while Sony counters with the latest James Bond adventure "Casino Royale." Each has a legitimate shot at reaching number one and will play to different audiences. Meanwhile, two-time chart-topper "Borat" plans to stick around and cause trouble (and collect more lawsuits) despite the arrival of two new heavy hitters.

Yet another computer-animated film featuring talking animals hits the big screen this weekend in the form of "Happy Feet" which tells the story of Mumble, a young penguin who can’t sing like all his other classmates can, but can dance up a storm with his toe-tapping skills. The PG-rated film features the voices of Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and Brittany Murphy and is directed by George Miller ("Babe"). Warner Bros. will offer dozens of Imax runs simultaneously with the standard launch of the film which will give the grosses a nice little boost.


The penguins return in animated form in "Happy Feet."

The weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday frame has always been a potent one for films that play to kids. Although "Happy Feet" has a story that wanders from one genre to the next, its dazzling digital animation should please audiences. Plus, Williams is in top form voicing two different characters who together provide about 95% of the film’s comedy. Last year, the Oscar-winning actor lent his pipes to Fox’s "Robots" which opened with $36M thanks to the star wattage he brings to a big toon vehicle. "Feet" should be able to debut above that mark.

The marketing push behind "Happy" has been colossal as the studio is hoping for big things from its little penguin. Kids and moms have been bombarded with promotion everywhere they go and awareness with that key demo is sky high. But crossover potential to teens and young adults in questionable. This is not like "The Incredibles" or "Shrek" where every teenager is pumped up and ready to buy tickets. There is also solid competition for the family audience in the current marketplace as "The Santa Clause 3" and "Flushed Away" are set to collect $20M or more worth of ticket sales from the exact same crowd this weekend. But penguin power could edge out Bond’s guns as "Happy Feet" will have around 400 more theaters, a shorter running time, and more starpower. Opening in 3,804 theaters, the animated film might take in about $40M this weekend.

Sony and MGM try to restart one of the most successful film franchises in history with "Casino Royale," the latest James Bond action-adventure tale. Daniel Craig replaces the wildly popular Pierce Brosnan in the role of Agent 007 in the first new installment in the series in four years. Martin Campbell, who directed the former Remington Steele in his first Bond pic "Goldeneye," gets another chance to break in a rookie into one of the industry’s most iconic roles. In the U.S., Craig is practically an unknown actor and with no famous co-stars, "Casino Royale" cannot rely upon starpower to drive in audiences. Instead, it will look to the marquee value of the franchise as well as to reviews from critics which so far have been glowing and even better than what the studio could have hoped for. Many find Craig to be the best Bond ever.


New Bond, same wardrobe in "Casino Royale."

Each of Brosnan’s first three Bond films had the secret agent’s famous digits branded into its opening weekend gross figure. "Goldeneye" opened to $26,205,007 on this same weekend in 1995, "Tomorrow Never Dies" premiered to $25,143,007 in December 1997 when it faced the launch of "Titanic," and "The World is Not Enough" launched with $35,519,007 when the franchise returned to the weekend before Thanksgiving in 1999. No telling if Sony will follow suit with "Casino" and insert Bond’s trademark number into the final opening weekend tally. 2002’s "Die Another Day," the last film in the series, raised the bar even higher debuting to $47.1M on its way to a $160.9M domestic take and $415M worldwide haul.

"Casino Royale" is not likely to reach that bar in its first weekend. With Brosnan gone and many fans not sure yet if they want to try out this new blondie, the debut frame could suffer a bit. Action fans had a routine of going to see a Brosnan Bond film every couple of winters, plus the addition of Halle Berry, who was red hot from her Oscar win that year, boosted the film’s star quotient. "Royale" could have greatly benefited by casting at least one big star to help keep its hold on its fan base. Nevertheless, with no other action movies in the marketplace, "Casino" has almost no direct competition. And its Texas Hold ‘Em storyline could appeal to young men addicted to poker.

But the box office world has changed much since "Die Another Day." Nowadays, action movies that rely on stunts instead of special effects often struggle to attract audiences. Competing globe-trotting spy flick "Mission: Impossible III," which appeals to much the same audience, bowed to an underwhelming $47.7M last May while playing in over 4,000 theaters against no competition. Sure, the Tom Cruise backlash may have contributed. But today’s audiences get plenty of high-quality action for free on network television and want a lot more bang for the buck if they’re expected to pay top dollar at the multiplexes. Also impacting "Casino’s" potential is its long running time which clocks in at nearly two and a half hours. That’s a good 45 minutes longer than "Happy Feet" meaning each screen can accommodate one extra penguin showing per day.

Sony has backed its latest blockbuster with a sizable marketing push. Strong word-of-mouth could allow it to hang on in the long term. But early skepticism may lead many adult moviegoers to a wait-and-see approach as they figure out whether this Bond is worth it. Diving into 3,434 theaters, "Casino Royale" might gross about $38M for the weekend. With recent Bond flicks making 60-70% of their loot from outside of North America, international prospects look sensational over the coming weeks.

Universal quietly tosses the R-rated comedy "Let’s Go To Prison" into the marketplace on Friday hoping to tap into young men in search of bold humor. Directed by Bob Odenkirk, the jailhouse laugher boasts a cast fit for a straight-to-DVD release – Dax Shephard, Will Arnett, and Chi McBride. In this revenge comedy, a felon makes life hell for the son of the judge who sentenced him to the slammer. The marketing push has not been very strong and with "Borat" stealing away the same audience, it will be an uphill battle to find paying customers. Opening in 1,495 cells, "Let’s Go To Prison" might lock down only $5M over the weekend.


"Let’s Go to Prison" for some reason was not screened for the press.

Confusing audiences in nearly 500 theaters across the country this weekend will be "After Dark Horrorfest – 8 Films to Die For." For one weekend only, this collection of B-grade fright flicks will play in theaters with moviegoers having the choice of which films they want to see. These include such titles as "The Gravedancers," Takashi Shimizu‘s "Reincarnation," and "Wicked Little Things" plus a special Sunday night presentation of "Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror" as the ninth creepy tale. To generate interest, After Dark is promoting this as a special event for horror fans featuring films that they were not supposed to see. To fill the dead space on screen between Sunday and Wednesday when many new Thanksgiving weekend films open, theaters will get to run "encore presentations of audience favorites."

In limited release, more potential candidates for awards season make their way into theaters. Fox Searchlight unleashes Richard Linklater‘s newest creation "Fast Food Nation" in 321 theaters across the major markets. The R-rated ensemble pic stars Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette in an expose of the American junk food biz.


The stars of "Fast Food Nation."

MGM and The Weinstein Co. go back to June 5, 1968 with the political drama "Bobby" examining the lives of those inside the Ambassador Hotel on the day Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Another large cast takes to the screen including Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Demi Moore, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Ashton Kutcher, Martin Sheen, and son Emilio Estevez who also serves as writer/director. "Bobby" platforms in solo engagements in New York and Los Angeles on Friday and expands nationally next Wednesday.


Emilio Estevez directs and stars in "Bobby."

Packing films with stars seems to be the way to go as showcased again by the film industry comedy "For Your Consideration" from writer/director Christopher Guest ("Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind"). Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Ricky Gervais, and Fred Willard team up for a story about the wackiness that results when a small indie film attracts Oscar buzz for its cast members. Warner Independent Pictures will debut "Consideration" on Friday in ten U.S. markets plus three Canadian cities before expanding next Wednesday into major cities across North America.


More Christopher Guest satire in "For Your Consideration."

After stumbling into the number one spot two weeks ago, "Borat" will have to settle for being bumped a couple of spots this time thanks to the frame’s two new heavyweights. "Casino Royale" will provide some competition but "Happy Feet" should have no effect on the raunchy comedy’s war of terror on the nation’s multiplexes. Midweek business is still very strong so a 35% drop to about $18M could occur. That would give "Borat" a hefty $94M in 17 days and could possibly allow it to crack the $100M mark by Turkey Day.

Disney’s "The Santa Clause 3" and Paramount’s "Flushed Away" have been chart buddies for two weeks now, but the pair of kidpics might have a chance to swap positions this weekend. Both will take direct hits thanks to the arrival of the new penguin pic, but "Flushed" seems to be holding up a bit better. This weekend, we may see it drop 35% to $11M raising its total to $53M. "Santa," meanwhile, may fall 40% to around $10M for a $53M cume as well.

Will Ferrell saw a respectable showing for his new comedy "Stranger Than Fiction," but most of that crowd will be opting for Sony’s other offering this weekend – James Bond. A 45% drop might occur giving the flick $7.5M over the sophomore session and a ten-day tally of $24M.

LAST YEAR: Warner Bros. destroyed the competition with the latest installment of its enduring franchise – "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." The fourth wizard flick bowed to a jaw-dropping $102.3M making it the fourth-biggest opening weekend in history, at the time. "Goblet" was a big winner grossing $290M domestically and a towering $892M worldwide making it the second highest grossing "Potter" pic. Debuting far back in second place, but with solid results of its own, was Fox’s Johnny Cash drama "Walk the Line" with $22.3M. The Joaquin PhoenixReese Witherspoon film went on to capture $119.5M plus an Oscar for Reese. Rounding out the top five were Disney’s "Chicken Little" with $14.7M, The Weinstein Company’s "Derailed" with $6.5M, and Sony’s "Zathura" with $5.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

There was no stopping the Kazakh sensation Borat which expanded nationally this weekend after a stunning debut and remained at the top of the North American box office once again.

In fact, the top three spots remained unchanged as ticket buyers ignored most of the new offerings aimed at them this weekend. Will Ferrell‘s new comedy Stranger Than Fiction posted a respectable opening, but Hollywood stars Russell Crowe and Sarah Michelle Gellar suffered some of the worst openings of their careers this weekend as their new films, A Good Year and The Return respectively, were both dead on arrival. The overall marketplace struggled to keep pace with previous years as for the first time since 1997, the first half of November failed to deliver a single film with a weekend gross of at least $30M.

Borat crushed its competitors for a second straight weekend as the raunchy docu-comedy expanded from 837 to 2,566 theaters and grossed a stellar $29M, according to studio estimates. By more than tripling its theater count, Fox put its hit into full nationwide release and actually saw its three-day take climb 10% over the debut frame. Borat’s per-theater average understandably dropped by two-thirds this weekend to a still strong $11,302. The ten-day cume stands at an amazing $67.8M and at its current pace, the $18M movie-film could find its way to the $140M mark from the domestic market alone.

Thanks to a wave of media hype this fall, the Sacha Baron Cohen creation has become a national phenomenon and is already make benefit from glorious word-of-mouth and repeat business, according to the studio. Holdover theaters witnessed drops of about 30% from last weekend which is encouraging as it moves forward to fight off James Bond and other holiday pics armed with a war chest full of marketing dollars. Borat has become the first film to spend back-to-back weekends at number one since the football drama Invincible which opened in August, and has generated the best ten-day start of any movie since the Will Ferrell blockbuster Talladega Nights which also co-starred Cohen. Both comedies saw their main stars appearing on talk shows in-character to generate publicity.

Holding steady in the runnerup spot was Disney’s Christmas flick The Santa Clause 3 which dipped only 13% to an estimated $16.9M. After ten days, the Tim Allen sequel has grossed $41.1M putting it behind the pace of the last installment in the franchise. In 2002, The Santa Clause 2 also bowed on the first weekend of November and dropped 15% to $24.7M in its sophomore session. Its ten-day cume of $60M repped 43% of its eventual $139.2M gross. Clause 3 looks to be on course to erode at a similar pace which would allow it to reach the vicinity of $90M.

Also staying put for a second weekend was the animated comedy Flushed Away which remained in third place with an estimated $16.7M. Off only 11%, the Paramount release has upped its cume to $39.9M and remains just a step behind Santa. With better buzz and a slightly slimmer decline, Flushed could also reach the same region and conclude its run near the $90M level.

Santa and Flushed opened last weekend and split the family audience almost evenly with only a $700,000 difference in their weekend debuts. This frame, the gap was cut down to only $200,000. Per-theater averages were also close with Santa averaging $4,885 from 3,458 and Flushed averaging $4,508 from 3,707 sites. But both films will face stiff competition on Friday when Warner Bros. goes after the exact same crowd with its heavily-hyped penguin toon Happy Feet which has been backed by a sizable marketing push.

Will Ferrell‘s newest comedy Stranger Than Fiction led the frame’s new releases and bowed in fourth place with an estimated $14.1M from 2,264 theaters. Averaging a solid $6,228, the PG-13 film about a man who discovers his life is being narrated by an author earned good reviews and co-starred Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The production budget for the Sony release was under $30M. According to studio data, Fiction’s audience was 55% female while 53% were under 30. As a smart comedy aimed at young adults, the film did not open like Ferrell’s bigger smashes like Talladega Nights ($47M), but it does hope to have good legs.

The horror sequel Saw III fell hard once again dropping 55% in its third weekend to an estimated $6.6M pushing the 17-day cume to $69.9M. The third installment in the popular torture franchise is running a bit behind the pace of last year’s Saw II which enjoyed a third-weekend take of $9.1M for a total of $73.9M over the same number of days.

After two successful weeks in limited release, Paramount Vantage’s cross-continent drama Babel expanded nationally to mixed results with an estimated $5.7M. The Brad PittCate Blanchett pic averaged a decent $4,517 from 1,251 locations and raised its sum to $7.5M. Last weekend, Babel grossed just under $1M from 35 theaters for a potent $26,264 average, but arthouse films don’t always remain powerful after expanding into all regions of North America.

Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed took in an estimated $5.2M in its sixth mission, down 32%, giving Warner Bros. $109.8M to date. With $58M overseas, the Leonardo DiCaprioMatt Damon cop drama sits at more than $168M worldwide and counting. Opening close behind in eighth place was the horror pic The Return with an estimated $4.8M from 1,986 theaters for a weak $2,405 average. For Sarah Michelle Gellar, the PG-13 film’s debut represented her second worst opening ever in a lead role after 1999’s Simply Irresistible with $2.2M. Focus Features was the distributor.

The magician pic The Prestige followed with an estimated $4.6M, off 38%, for a $46M cume to date for Buena Vista. Like Gellar, Russell Crowe also bombed with his new entry. The romantic comedy A Good Year bowed to just $3.8M, according to estimates, averaging a poor $1,827 per theater from 2,066 sites. Fox’s PG-13 pic barely entered the top ten as Crowe suffered his worst opening since Mystery, Alaska‘s $3.1M launch in 1999. Like so many other fall films targeting mature adults, Year just did not have room to breathe and flopped instantly. Poor reviews also hurt the Ridley Scott-directed picture which played mostly to older women.

Another new release that failed to excite paying customers was MGM’s action thriller Harsh Times which debuted outside of the top ten with an estimated $1.8M from 956 locations. Averaging a sluggish $1,913 per site, the R-rated pic finds Christian Bale playing a bad cop on the streets of South Central.

Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Clint Eastwood‘s war saga Flags of Our Fathers grossed an estimated $2.8M falling 36% in its fourth attack. The $90M Paramount release has amassed only $31M to date and looks headed for an underwhelming $38-40M finish. Miramax’s awards contender The Queen continued to expand, but faced the first weekend decline of its seven-week run. The Helen Mirren film collected an estimated $2.6M from 484 venues for a decent $5,372 average. The Queen was playing in 387 theaters last week and bumped its cume to $13.8M while its average declined by 29%.

Sony’s hit toon Open Season tumbled 53% to an estimated $1.4M. With $83.5M in the bank, the $85M film should end its season with around $86M. Just a week away from giving audiences a dual voice role in the Warner Bros. toon Happy Feet, funnyman Robin Williams saw his political comedy Man of the Year pass the $36M mark. A final tally of just under $40M seems likely for the not-so-stellar Universal title.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $107.4M which was dead even with last year when Chicken Little remained at number one with $31.7M; and down 18% from 2004 when The Incredibles stayed in the top spot with $50.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This weekend, multiplexes hope to cram in lots of moviegoers thanks to a wide selection of new films. Six movies open or expand nationally on Friday making for what will be one of the most competitive weekends of the holiday season.

Adult audiences looking for a laugh can see Will Ferrell in a more mature role in "Stranger Than Fiction." The female vote will be split with daughters going for a scare with Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Return" while their mothers can spend the evening with Russell Crowe in the romantic comedy "A Good Year." The action flick "Harsh Times" rounds out the menu of new releases targeting young men.

In addition, the cross-continent drama "Babel" expands across the country after two weeks of stellar results in limited release. Despite all the new opponents entering the field, reigning box office incumbent "Borat" will go fully national in an attempt to be re-elected for a second term as commander-in-chief. Rarely does a November weekend have so many new offerings. The fight for screens and moviegoer attention will be fierce. Not every film will survive so some casualties will be left behind on the battlefield by the end of the frame.

After battling Sacha Baron Cohen with race cars last summer in "Talladega Nights," Will Ferrell once again takes on the British comedian at the box office with "Stranger Than Fiction" which will try to stop the seemingly unstoppable "Borat" machine. In the PG-13 film, the funnyman plays an agent with the IRS who begins to hear a voice narrating his life and his every move. Emma Thompson provides the voice while Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah co-star. Directed by Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "Monster’s Ball"), "Stranger" takes an A-list comedian and puts him in a more mature and serious film that still has some comedic elements. That means that the 14-year-old boys who powered "Talladega Nights" to a $47M opening will take a pass this time around.

When Jim Carrey went arthouse, he saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" open to $8.2M with a $6,042 average and "Man on the Moon" bow to $7.5M with a $3,615 average. Adam Sandler‘s "Spanglish" debuted to $8.8M and a $3,617 average. It can often be a tough sell to take a comedian known mostly for mainstream comedies and put him into a more mature film, even if it still has laughs. "Stranger Than Fiction" might find it difficult to pull in teens and young adults, but mature adults will have interest. Reviews have been generally good and the concept makes the film stand out in the current marketplace. Competition for adults will come from both "Babel" and "A Good Year" while "Borat" will continue to steal away millions of moviegoers looking for a good laugh. Launching in 2,264 theaters, "Stranger Than Fiction" might open with roughly $16M.


Will Ferrell screaming at a bus in "Stranger Than Fiction."

Halloween may have passed but those in search of a scare, and were disappointed that "The Grudge 2" did not have Sarah Michelle Gellar in a full role, will have a chance to see their favorite vampire slayer in the new supernatural thriller "The Return." With a commercially friendly PG-13 rating, the spookfest finds Gellar playing a young businesswoman guided by mysterious forces to avenge her own death from a previous life. In the horror genre, Gellar is a bonafide star and can pull in teens and young adults. But with so many fright sequels cramming into theaters recently during the pre-pumpkin period, many genre fans might be all scared out by now. Luckily for "The Return," competition will not be too fierce as nothing else is exciting teenage girls at the moment. The marketing push has been decent, but in many ways it does not stand out as something special or unique that is worth seeing right away. Opening in 1,986 theaters, "The Return" might gross around $8M over the weekend.


Sarah Michelle Gellar, padding her horror credentials in "The Return."

Russell Crowe reteams with his "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott for a trip to a new genre (romantic comedy) in "A Good Year." The PG-13 film finds the former Maximus playing a financial guru who finds women and wine at a french vineyard he inherits. Talk about a tough sell. On paper, the Scott-Crowe combo is box office gold, only they chose to try out a type of film that will repel fans who spent $187.7M on the 2000 Best Picture Oscar winner. Plus the Fox release has no notable female star to boost its potential. Add to that the bad buzz that "Year" received at the Toronto Film Festival plus the mostly negative reviews from critics, and it surely will have its work cut out for it. Could this be "All the King’s Men" all over again?

"A Good Year" stands as that rare film which reunites an Oscar-caliber director with an Oscar-winning actor that earns bad reviews and lukewarm studio support. Crowe’s last film "Cinderella Man" bowed to $18.3M from 2,812 theaters for a $6,515 average in June of last year and was considered an underperformer. The actor’s latest picture lacks the Ron Howard film’s strong critical support, added starpower from Renee Zellweger, and sizable push from Universal. "A Good Year" should play mostly to adult female audiences as the male appeal is low. That makes "Babel" and "Stranger Than Fiction," which have better cross-gender appeal, direct competitors this weekend for mature couples. Opening in 2,066 theaters, "A Good Year" could find itself with about $8M this weekend and a rough road ahead.


Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott enter chick flick territory with "A Good Year."

Still in the top ten with "The Prestige," Christian Bale comes back for double duty in the new action thriller "Harsh Times" from MGM. The R-rated film from the writer of "Training Day" finds the Caped Crusader playing an ex-Army Ranger enlisting with the LAPD who still has ties into the crime world in South Central. "Harsh" will play to urban audiences and should skew male but will find the marketplace difficult to navigate with bigger titles like "Borat" and "Saw III" already doing strong business with that demo. Bale lacks the drawing power of Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role in "Training Day" so the grosses should not be in the same ballpark. A moderate national release in over 900 theaters will also limit the potential. "Harsh Times" will have to fight hard in order to crack the top ten and could finish the frame with around $3M.


Christian Bale as a psychopath in "Harsh Times."

Among holdovers, all eyes will be on "Borat" this weekend. Can the Kazakh superstar spend another weekend at number one? Following its robust $26.5M bow from 837 theaters, the Sacha Baron Cohen starrer has delivered solid midweek results grossing over $3M on both Monday and Tuesday. Now, Fox will expand the raunchy comedy on Friday by more than tripling the run to 2,565 theaters allowing everyone to have easy access to the most-talked-about film of the season. Word-of-mouth has been encouraging and "Borat" might even reach the Holy Grail of the box office – repeat business.

Last weekend’s potent average of $31,607 will certainly come crashing down since the film will be in more theaters and most of the hardcore fans have now already seen it. But the buzz is still hot and the Uzbekistan-hating TV journalist is now trying to crossover into new audience segments not initially sold on the concept last week. With the frame’s new films all a mixed bag without a surefire smash among them, "Borat" looks ready to retain its hold on the number one spot. A weekend gross of around $24M could result giving Fox a stellar $62M in only ten days.


"Kazakhstan is the greatest…"

Another cross-cultural film with a five-letter title starting with a B expanding over the weekend is "Babel" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Paramount Vantage has attracted scorching results in limited release for two weeks and is now hoping that moviegoers nationwide are ready for the acclaimed drama. Last weekend, "Babel" popped into the Top 20 with a stellar $26,264 average from 35 locations. On Friday, the R-rated film expands to over 1,200 sites and should continue to play to an upscale adult audience.

"Babel" is likely to play to the same crowd that powered last December’s "Syriana" to a $11.7M bow from 1,752 theaters for a $6,699 average. That film had more theaters and a star, George Clooney, who is despised by many American moviegoers for his political beliefs. On the other hand, Pitt can cheat on his wife and father a baby with another woman, and the public still can’t get enough of him. That’s pure starpower. But "Babel" is not the type of commercial role that Pitt attracts large crowds to. Still, the average should be solid so given its level of distribution, "Babel" could gross about $10M this weekend.


Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, looking rather disheveled in "Babel."

Disney and Paramount went head to head last weekend with competing kidpics and split the family vote in half pretty evenly. "Flushed Away" is getting better word-of-mouth and is offering audiences something new so its decline might be smaller than that of "The Santa Clause 3." Kid movies opening in early November typically have good legs and enjoy strong second weekend holds. Sophomore drops for recent films of the genre include 21% for last year’s "Chicken Little," 29% for 2004’s "The Incredibles," 15% for 2003’s "Elf," and 15% for 2002’s "The Santa Clause 2." This weekend, "Clause 3" might drop by 25% and "Flushed" could wash away 20% leaving each with a three-day tally in the neighborhood of $15M. That would push ten-day cumes to roughly $39M a piece for the Mouse House pic and the rat toon.

LAST YEAR: Disney’s poultry toon "Chicken Little" stayed at number one for a second weekend with an impressive $31.7M. Three new releases followed within a tight range. Sony’s big-budget kidpic "Zathura" bowed in second with $13.4M on its way to a disappointing $28.2M. Jennifer Aniston was close behind with her thriller "Derailed" which opened to $12.2M. The Weinstein Co. release went on to gross a moderate $36M. Paramount’s urban action pic "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" debuted in fourth place with a $12M weekend and $17.7M over five days. The 50 Cent starrer finished its run with $31M. Rounding out the top five was the military drama "Jarhead" which tumbled 58% to $11.7M. Premiering to sensational results was the period film "Pride & Prejudice" which grossed $2.9M from only 215 theaters for a sizzling $13,326 average. The Focus release went on to become an awards contender and took in $38.4M making it the top-grossing pic among the weekend’s new films.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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