National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Nicolas Cage’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets (Disney) continued its holiday domination with a $9.52M Thursday, down 17% from the day after Christmas. The sequel about treasure hunter Ben Gates has posted an estimated 7-day total of $86.43M. Treasure has generated the 6th-best 7-day gross in modern box office history, about $7.5M stronger than last year’€™s mega-hit Night at the Museum, which went on to a $250M domestic gross.

ALL-TIME BEST 7-DAY GROSSES FOR DECEMBER RELEASES
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – $150.1M
2. The Lord of the Rings: Thed Two Towers – $123.3M
3. I Am Legend – $103.2M
4. Meet the Fockers – $97M
5. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – $94M
6. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $86.43M
7. Night at the Museum – $79M
8. King Kong – $77M

Amazingly, Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox), made for a modest $60M, is proving to be a box office monster. It was up 8% on Thursday good for $8.67M and a 2nd place finish. That marks 3 straight days of increased ticket sales, so Alvin is showing no signs of slowing down. The Fox family comedy stars CGI versions of Alvin, Simon & Theodore, and these critters have managed the all-time 3rd-best 2-week performance for any movie with a CGI star trailing King Kong, on a par with the original Scooby Doo and besting beasts like Godzilla and the Hulk.

ALL-TIME BEST 14-DAY GROSSES FOR MOVIES WITH A CGI STAR

1. King Kong – $128.5M
2. Scooby-Doo – $111.5M
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $111.1M
4. Hulk – $108.7M
5. Godzilla – $100.6M
6. Stuart Little – $63.3M

Sweeney Todd (Dreamworks/Paramount) was down for a 3rd straight day, falling to #9 with $2.23M and a $1,788 PTA. It is a film of undisputed brilliance, but it would have benefited from a platform rollout instead of the “cash grab†of a 1,788 location run. The studio took a “€œbait and switch”€ approach, essentially “€œtricking”€ younger moviegoers into seeing a horror film, which turned out to be a Sondheim musical. The perception of commercial failure, along with the (literally) rivers of blood spilled in the movie may conspire to keep this one out of the Best Picture category (although director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp seem like locks with plenty of attention in the technical categories as well).

Also down for the 3rd consecutive day was the Oprah Winfrey-produced, Denzel Washington-directed The Great Debaters (Weinstein/MGM). This inspirational tale sank another 23% on Thursday to $1.6M and a PTA of $1,383 at its 1,164 locations. It seems that with limited commercial upside, a questionable Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Drama (c’mon, 7 nominees) and a more lauded Washington performance in American Gangster, Debaters is a non-starter in the Oscar race.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage) suffered a 16% dip from its Wednesday PTA of nearly $34K at 2 locations, but the searing period drama still impressed with a stunning $28K per. With Daniel Day Lewis giving perhaps his best-ever performance, Blood is a guaranteed arthouse blockbuster. As a bonus, older men seem to love this movie, and that’€™s the key Oscar voting block. (Of course, No Country For Old Men (Miramax) has similar appeal, so that may open the Best Picture door for a more female-skewing movie like Atonement.)

Two other Oscar contenders got nice bumps in business Thursday with both The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax) and Persepolis up 16%.

Diving Bell scripter Ronald Harwood and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski seem like Oscar nomination locks for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography respectively. Some degree of commercial success could nudge Julian Schnabel more firmly into the Best Director quintet, and it would also help Max Von Sydow in the Supporting Actor category. (Although, it seems that the Best Actor race is too crowded with too much pedigree for the remarkable Mathieu Amalric.)
Meanwhile, Thursday’€™s PTA of about $3,000 at 7 locations can only help Persepolis for an Oscar nomination quinella of Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Feature.

EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY THURSDAY ESTIMATES

1. NEW – National Treasure: Book of Secrets (Disney) – $9.52M, $2,485 PTA [$86.43M cume]
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) – $8.67M, $2,479 PTA [$111.18 cume]
3. I Am Legend (Warner Bros.) – $7.57M, $2,091 PTA [$167.32M cume]
4. NEW – Charlie Wilson’s War (Universal) – $2.95M, $1,147 PTA [$22.5M cume]
5. NEW – Alien vs. Predator: Requiem – $2.78M, $1,086 PTA [$16.58M cume]
6. Juno (Fox Searchlight) – $2.57M, $2,576 PTA [$15.16M cume]
7. NEW – The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (Sony) – $2.48M, $895 PTA [$7.27M cume]
8. NEW P.S. I Love You (Warner Bros.) – $2.42M, $1,987 PTA [$15.02M cume]
9. NEW Sweeney Todd (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $2.23M, $1,788 PTA [$18.46M cume]
10. Enchanted (Disney) – $1.82M, $820 PTA [$103.8M cume]
11. The Golden Compass (New Line) – $1.62M, $707 PTA [$54.7M cume]
12. NEW – The Great Debaters (Weinstein/MGM) – $1.6M, $1,383 PTA [$7.3M cume]
13. NEW Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Sony) – $1.19M, $450 PTA [$7.44M cume]
14. Atonement (Focus) – $655,000, $2,141 PTA [$8M  cume]
15. No Country for Old Men (Miramax) – $495,000, $516 PTA [$38.8M cume]
16. The Kite Runner (Paramount Vantage) – $400,000, $1,061 PTA [$3.5M cume]
*The Savages (Fox Searchlight) – $83,000, $1,169 PTA [$1.1M cume]
*The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax) – $60,000, $1,429 PTA [$616,000 cume]
*NEW – The Bucket List (Warner Bros) – $59,000, $3,688 PTA [$281,000 cume]
*NEW – There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage) – $55,937, $27,969 PTA [$123,000 cume]
*NEW – Persepolis (Sony Classics) -$20,667, $2,952 [$76,000 cume]
* NEW Steep (Sony Classics) – $4,905, $289 PTA [$45,000 cume]
*NEW Blonde Ambition (First Look) – $391, $49 PTA [$2,502 cume]

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