The Lion, The Witch And The Winner — 'Narnia' Bumps 'Harry Potter'

Political thriller 'Syriana' is in at #2, sandwiched between the two fantasy films.

Four children unlocked the door to box-office success this weekend, as "The Chronicles of Narnia" bowed at #1, knocking "Harry Potter" from his throne.

Adapted from C.S. Lewis' classic novel of the same name, the film earned more than $67 million, according to early estimates, and helped pull Hollywood out of a box-office slump. In "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," four children are moved from their London home during World War II to stay with a quirky professor. Things are pretty boring for the kids until one discovers a wardrobe that leads to Narnia, a world ruled by an evil witch who keeps the land in perpetual winter. With the help of Aslan the lion, the children try to defeat the witch(see [article id="1513759"]"'The Chronicles Of Narnia': The Next Lit Hit?")[/article].

Sandwiched between two films centering on magic and fantasy is the significantly more serious "Syriana," a political thriller focusing on the global oil industry and following multiple storylines, including one set in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf (see [article id="1514474"]"Clooney's Desire For Political Debate Comes At A Price: Fingernail Torture"[/article]). Directed by Stephen Gaghan ("Traffic") and starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, the film bowed at #2 with more than $12 million.

After three weeks at #1, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was knocked down to the #3 position. The blockbuster series' fourth installment — which finds our hero battling for the Triwizard Cup — earned more than $10.3 million(see [article id="1513353"]"No More Child's Play")[/article].

The Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line" fell from #3 to #4 this week. The film — which follows the life of music's legendary Man in Black from his troubled childhood through a struggle with drugs and courtship of June Carter — earned more than $5.7 million (see [article id="1513769"]"Johnny Cash Was 'Thrilled' Joaquin Phoenix Would Play Him, 'Line' Director Says"[/article]).

The family flick "Yours, Mine and Ours," starring Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid as a newly married couple with 18 children between them, dropped from #4 to #5 with more than $5.1 million.

Her onscreen acrobatic skills are solid, but Charlize Theron's "Aeon Flux" slipped at the box-office, falling from #2 to #6 after one week in theaters. The film, based on the MTV animated series, earned more than $4.6 million(see [article id="1513962"]"Charlize Theron: Gimme Danger")[/article].

Rounding out the box-office top 10 are "Just Friends," which fell from #5 to #7 with $3.9 million; "Pride & Prejudice," which stuck at #8 for a second week with more than $2.4 million; "Chicken Little," which slipped from #7 to #9 with more than $2.2 million; and "Rent," which dropped from #6 to #10 with $2 million.

Opening in only five theaters nationwide, "Brokeback Mountain" missed the top 10 but earned over $545,000 — that's an average of over $109,000 per screen (To put that number in perspective, "Narnia" took in $18,500 per screen). The film, which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as two cowboys forced to conceal their love in 1960s Wyoming (see [article id="1517571"]" 'Brokeback' More Than Just 'The Gay Cowboy Film,' Cast Says"[/article]), not only made more money per screen than any movie this year, it also scored an all-time record for the highest per-screen average of any live-action feature.

Overall, ticket sales were up from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for "King Kong" and "The Family Stone" to debut on the box-office top 10. "The Producers" also opens in limited release.

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