With a bit of wizardry, and the added promise of more violence and increasingly impressive special effects, the fourth installment in the "Harry Potter" series took the #1 spot at the box office this weekend, helping to reverse the long-running box-office slump.
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" bowed in the top spot on the box-office top 10 with more than $101.4 million, according to early estimates. That total not only puts "Goblet" ahead of the three previous "Potter" films, it's also the fourth-best three-day opening weekend ever, just behind "Spider-Man," "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" and "Shrek 2." Our hero battles in the Triwizard contest in the fourth film, the first in the series to show the evil Voldemort in human flesh and the first to earn a PG-13 rating (see "No More Child's Play").
"Walk the Line" was the only other new release to break into the box-office top 10 this week, debuting at #2 with $22.4 million, according to early estimates. The film, which follows the early days of Johnny Cash's legendary music career, stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Man in Black and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter (see "Johnny Cash Was 'Thrilled' Joaquin Phoenix Would Play Him, 'Line' Director Says"). Both actors did their own singing for the film.
If the animated star of "Chicken Little" knew that the sky was falling, he probably could have guessed that his film would be knocked out of the top spot on the box-office top 10 by two new releases this weekend (see "Zach Braff Calls 'Chicken Little' 'Garden State' On A Farm"). The #1 flick for two consecutive weeks, "Chicken Little" dropped to #3 this week, earning more than $14.7 million.
"Derailed," which stars Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston, fell from #3 to #4 with more than $6.5 million. In the thriller, Owen and Aniston star as two strangers who start a secret affair after a chance meeting on a subway and are targeted by a criminal who threatens blackmail.
Family-friendly "Jumanji"-esque sci-fi flick "Zathura" fell from #2 to #5 with $5.1 million. In the movie, two young brothers discover a board game in which each move has a real-life consequence — including meteor showers (see "How Do You Sell A Movie These Days? Online Satanic Newscasts").
Dropping just one notch this week, from #5 to #6, is "Jarhead," which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a Marine fighting in the Gulf War (see " 'Jarhead': Stuck In The Suck").
Rounding out this week's box-office top 10 are "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," which fell from #4 to #7 with more than $4.3 million; "Saw II," which dropped from #6 to #8 with $3.9 million; "The Legend of Zorro," which slipped from #7 to #9 with $2.3 million and "Pride and Prejudice," which held the #10 spot for the second week in a row with more than $2.1 million.
Overall, ticket sales were up from the corresponding weekend last year.
Next week, look for "Rent," "In the Mix," "Yours, Mine and Ours," "Just Friends" and "The Ice Harvest" to debut on the box-office top 10. "Syriana" opens in limited release.
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