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Sunday, January 6, 2008

'National Treasure' finds loot for a third straight weekend, Jan. 4-6

Despite just one newcomer this weekend, the horror entry One Missed Call, the box office got off to a great start in 2008, led by Disney's National Treasure: Book of Secrets which topped the box office for a third straight weekend with $20.2 million. I Am Legend took the No. 2 spot with $16.3 million, while Fox Searchlight's indie-comedy Juno saw a fantastic 52% jump in sales to finish third with $16.2 million.

Finishing in the No. 1 spot once again was Nicolas Cage's blockbuster sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which fell just 45% to an estimated $20.2 million. That pushes its 17 day take to an incredible $171 million, nearly surpassing the entire $173 million gross of the original Treasure. Despite lackluster reviews, audiences have clearly embraced the treasure hunters in their latest escapade. By next weekend Book will have become the highest grossing film of Nicolas Cage's career, surpassing the original National Treasure. At its current pace, look for Book to finish with $225 million domestically.

Will Smith's I Am Legend barely edged out a resurgent Juno for the No. 2 spot this weekend with $16.4 million. Falling just 40%, the Warner Bros. remake has now grossed a massive $228.7 million in four weeks of release, and now ranks as Smith's third highest grossing film ever. Only 1996's Independence Day with $306.2 million and 1997's Men in Black with $250.1 million have grossed more. Legend has also become the second biggest non-sequel this year, behind only Transformers's $319.1 million.

Internationally, I am Legend has grossed $170.2 million, pushing its worldwide take to nearly $400 million.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was the expansion of Fox Searchlight's teen pregnancy comedy Juno, which finished a strong third with $16.2 million. Expanding from 1,019 to 1,925 theaters, the Ellen Page starrer fell just 19% this weekend, averaging a powerful $8,429 per theater.

A critical darling which has landed on quite a few top ten lists, Juno has generated strong buzz from audiences, and the indie hit has now grossed $52 million domestically. Budgeted at a mere $2.5 million, the film has a very real shot at surpassing $100 million domestically.

Just behind Juno was Fox's comedy smash Alvin and the Chipmunks, which fell 45% to $16 million in its fourth week of release. Its total now stands at $176.7 million. Budgeted at $70 million, the film is on pace to surpass the $183.1 million from The Simpsons Movie, currently the highest grossing film of 2007 for Fox. Look for Alvin to finish with $210 million domestically.

Warner Bros.' horror remake One Missed Call rounded out the top five with an estimated $13.5 million debut. A remake of a Japanese horror film, the PG-13 release averaged a strong $6,038, playing strong with the teens demographic.

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