Weekend Box Office (January 5 - 7, 2007)

*** Top Foreign Pics | Globe Nominee Grosses ***

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND There was no stopping the runaway smash comedy Night at the Museum which North American audiences picked as their favorite film for the third straight weekend. New releases were met with varying levels of success. Both the futuristic saga Children of Men and the high school drama Freedom Writers earned high marks while playing in moderate national play. However, the animated film Happily N'Ever After and the action-comedy Code Name: The Cleaner were both met with soft openings. Overall, the first weekend of 2007 was solid and holdovers displayed considerable strength as audiences continued to find time to see all the interesting films in the marketplace. A remarkable 13 movies collected weekend sales of $4M or more giving the box office great breadth.

The Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum easily topped the charts over the weekend with $23.7M in its third weekend of play, according to final studio figures, boosting its cume to a stellar $163.8M. Down only 35% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the New Year's holiday frame, the Fox blockbuster matched the comedian's hit Meet the Fockers from two years ago which also topped the charts over the same three weekends. With its lucrative start and impressive holding power, Museum should be able to zoom past the $200M mark domestically.

Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness also stayed put for the third straight weekend taking the number two spot again with $12.9M. The Sony hit enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten slipping only 34% and pushed its cume to $124M. Pursuit could be headed for $160M or more.

Adult audiences responded to Alfonso Cuaron's futuristic drama Children of Men which expanded nationally in its second weekend and took third place with $10.2M. The critically acclaimed Universal release averaged a sturdy $8,435 from 1,209 theaters and has collected $11.8M since its limited opening a week earlier.

Hilary Swank saw impressive results for her school teacher drama Freedom Writers which debuted in fourth place with $9.4M from only 1,360 theaters. Averaging a strong $6,916 per location, the PG-13 film from Paramount and MTV Films connected with a young and multicultural audience. According to studio data, 62% of the audience was under the age of 21 and 50% were non-white. The road ahead for Freedom looks promising as the film scored an exceptionally high A grade from CinemaScore and 93% of those polled would definitely recommend it. Paramount will widen the picture on Friday into 700 more theaters for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. school holiday weekend.

The studio's hit musical Dreamgirls followed in fifth place with $8.7M in its second full weekend of wide release, off 39%. The Jamie Foxx-Beyonce Knowles pic upped its total to $54.3M and continues to post the best average in the top ten with a stellar $10,168 from 852 sites. Paramount will add about 1,000 more theaters on Friday.

Family audiences were not too charmed by the new animated offering Happily N'Ever After which opened in sixth place with just $6.6M. The PG-rated fairy tale satire averaged a lukewarm $2,775 from 2,381 locations for Lionsgate and could not compete with Night at the Museum which continued to dominate the family crowd.

Competing kidpic Charlotte's Web followed closely with $6.6M for Paramount, down 44%, pushing the cume to $67M. Universal's CIA thriller The Good Shepherd ranked eighth with $6.4M, off 41%, for a mediocre $48.3M sum.

Rocky Balboa punched up $6M for MGM dropping 43% and raised its cume to an impressive $60.6M. Rounding out the top ten was another sports drama, the football saga We Are Marshall, which fell 40% to $4.9M giving Warner Bros. an underwhelming $35.2M to date.

Debuting poorly in twelfth place was the action-comedy Code Name: The Cleaner which bowed to $4.2M from 1,736 for a messy $2,445 average. The New Line release stars Cedric the Entertainer and Lucy Liu.

Three films fell from the top ten. The fantasy adventure Eragon took in $4.8M, down 41%, for a $67M total to date. The Cameron Diaz comedy The Holiday dipped 43% to $3.8M for a $58.8M total. The penguin toon Happy Feet dropped 48% to $4M lifting its cume to $185.4M.

Several arthouse films in limited release expanded over the weekend. Fox Searchlight's Judi Dench pic Notes on a Scandal expanded from 22 to 93 theaters and grossed $1.1M for a potent $12,100 average. The film widens to over 200 sites on Friday and then into over 600 playdates on January 26. Cume is $2.1M. Paramount's Perfume was not as successful in its expansion going from three to 280 sites grossing $592,488 for a weak $2,116 average. Total to date stands at $690,534.

Warner Independent went from 37 to 72 theaters for its period drama The Painted Veil and grossed $486,699. Averaging a solid $6,760, the pic has taken in $1.3M to date and will expand to 200 runs on Friday. MGM's Miss Potter continues to attract mediocre numbers grossing $121,230 from 26 playdates for a mild $4,663 average. Cume is $138,785 for the Renee Zellweger film.

The top ten films grossed $95.4M which was off 3% from last year when Hostel opened at number one with $19.6M; and up 2% from 2005 when Meet the Fockers remained on top in its third weekend with $28.5M.

Compared to projections, both Children of Men and Freedom Writers opened stronger than my respective forecasts of $7M and $5M. Happily N'Ever After and Code Name: The cleaner were both on target with my predictions of $7M and $5M, respectively.

For a review of Children of Men, plus DVD reviews of Jet Li's Fearless and World Trade Center, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Alpha Dog, Stomp the Yard, Arthur and the Invisibles, and Primeval all open.

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  • # Title Jan 5 - 7 Dec 29 - 31 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
    1 Night at the Museum $ 23,743,960 $ 36,766,905 -35.4 3,730 3 $ 6,366 $ 163,840,714 Fox
    2 The Pursuit of Happyness 12,880,926 19,362,441 -33.5 3,027 4 4,255 124,039,482 Sony
    3 Children of Men 10,197,775 501,003 1,209 2 8,435 11,805,273 Universal
    4 Freedom Writers 9,405,582 1,360 1 6,916 9,405,582 Paramount
    5 Dreamgirls 8,663,380 14,100,050 -38.6 852 4 10,168 54,322,145 Paramount
    6 Happily N'Ever After 6,608,244 2,381 1 2,775 6,608,244 Lionsgate
    7 Charlotte's Web 6,598,179 11,674,784 -43.5 3,303 4 1,998 66,963,119 Paramount
    8 The Good Shephard 6,446,345 11,000,510 -41.4 2,250 3 2,865 48,344,025 Universal
    9 Rocky Balboa 6,017,649 10,572,458 -43.1 3,018 3 1,994 60,642,611 MGM
    10 We Are Marshall 4,875,400 8,089,931 -39.7 2,502 3 1,949 35,165,379 Warner Bros.
    11 Eragon 4,810,405 8,206,585 -41.4 2,625 4 1,833 67,043,851 Fox
    12 Code Name: The Cleaner 4,244,142 1,736 1 2,445 4,244,142 New Line
    13 Happy Feet 4,004,462 7,650,181 -47.7 2,212 8 1,810 185,414,182 Warner Bros.
    14 The Holiday 3,845,411 6,718,286 -42.8 2,320 5 1,658 58,815,572 Sony
    15 Blood Diamond 3,822,423 4,895,871 -21.9 1,510 5 2,531 43,894,082 Warner Bros.
    16 Casino Royale 3,002,507 4,601,492 -34.7 1,266 8 2,372 159,837,718 Sony
    17 Black Christmas 1,798,578 3,723,364 -51.7 1,504 3 1,196 15,224,364 MGM
    18 Apocalypto 1,762,525 3,264,798 -46.0 903 5 1,952 47,335,193 Buena Vista
    19 Notes on a Scandal 1,125,281 414,487 171.5 93 3 12,100 2,056,476 Fox Searchlight
    20 The Queen 1,048,232 934,060 12.2 323 15 3,245 29,933,112 Miramax
    Top 5 $ 64,891,623 $ 92,904,690 -30.2
    Top 10 95,437,440 134,142,131 -28.9
    Top 20 124,901,406 156,003,339 -19.9
    Top 20 vs. 2006 124,901,406 123,563,616 1.1

    Last Updated : January 8, 2007 at 9:45PM ET

    Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.