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Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Yes Man' tops weekend with $18 mil, Dec. 19-21, 2008

Three newcomers dominated the weekend before Christmas, led by Jim Carrey's latest comedy Yes Man, which took the top spot with $18.2 million. Will Smith's drama Seven Pounds debuted in second with $16 million, while the animated pic The Tale of Despereaux bowed in third with $10 million. Overall, the lack of a big opening from any of the newcomers and debilitating snow storms across the northeast United States led the top ten films to finish a whopping 46% lower than last year's comparable frame, when National Treasure: Book of Secrets debuted with $44.8 million.

Studios are holding off on their truly big guns until Christmas weekend (which starts this year on a Thursday), when five very big films vie for the top honors in a crowded weekend. Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Marley & Me, The Spirit, and Tom Cruise's Valkyrie all enter a crowded marketplace on Thursday, trying to make a splash in the final weekend of 2008.

Warner Bros.' Yes Man took the top spot with an $18.2 million debut, lower than industry expectations considering the film's ultrawide 3,434 theater release slate. Averaging a solid if unspectacular $5,288 per theater, the heavily marketed comedy finished better than Carrey's 2005 Christmas release Fun with Dick and Jane, which took in $14.4 million over its first weekend and $21.5 million over the four day Holiday frame. Reviews were mixed to poor, so the film will have to rely on strong and steady word of mouth to carry it through a highly competitive Christmas weekend.

Will Smith's latest drama Seven Pounds opened in second with $16 million, averaging $5,801 in 2,758 theaters. Budgeted at $55 million, the Sony release broke Smith's consecutive streak of eight No. 1 openings. Despite teaming up once again with director Gabriele Muccino, who directed last year's acclaimed The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds opened over $10 million lower than Happyness's $26.5 million bow. Pounds was hurt by being the worst reviewed of the new films, and will likely struggle breaking even domestic.

Universal's computer-animated family film The Tale of Despereaux debuted in thir with $10.5 million, averaging a poor $3,385 in 3,104 theaters. With its closest competition Bolt now in its fifth week of release, Despereaux should enjoy decent returns over the Holiday frame next week.

Last week's champ The Day the Earth Stood Still fell a whopping 67% in its sophomore frame to $10.2 million, giving the $80m Fox release a ten-day $48.6 million cume. Starring Keanu Reeves, Earth will likely fall short of its budget domestic with roughly $70 million.

Warner's hit comedy Four Christmases fell 41% to $7.8 million, bringing its four week cume to $100.2 million. At its current pace the $80 million budgeted pic should finish with $120 million domestic.

Summit Entertainment's blockbuster Twilight continues to show its appeal beyond its loyal hardcore fan base, falling just 34% to $5.2 million and bringing its five week cume to $158.5 million. Budgeted at $37 million, the Catherine Hardwicke directed pic has now amassed $210 million worldwide.

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