Ben Stiller Fights Off Beyonce To Keep ‘Museum’ At #1

'Night at the Museum' tops 'Pursuit of Happyness,' 'Dreamgirls' over holiday weekend.

The Top Five

#1 “Night at the Museum” ($46.7 million)

#2 “The Pursuit of Happyness” ($24.7 million)

#3 “Dreamgirls” ($18.6 million)

#4 “Charlotte’s Web” ($15 million)

#5 “The Good Shepherd” ($14.3 million)

Should old acquaintance be forgot? Not in 2007, apparently, as audiences once again lined up for “Night at the Museum,” Ben Stiller’s latest family-comedy romp. Buoyed by a Monday holiday for the second week in a row, “Night at the Museum” held the #1 spot with an impressive four-day total of nearly $47 million, making it the 10th and final film of ’06 to win consecutive weekends.

Now in its third week, Will Smith’s “The Pursuit of Happyness” finished second, bringing its domestic box-office total to just over $100 million. It’s the sixth consecutive $100 million film for the former Fresh Prince, and his 10th overall. Of the 10, “Pursuit” is the biggest surprise — a quiet tear-jerker starring Smith as a poverty-stricken single father, it isn’t the type of movie that generally delivers huge numbers, especially in a packed holiday season. Can anyone now doubt that Smith is Hollywood’s biggest star?

Not Jamie Foxx or Eddie Murphy. Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews and Oscar buzz, their “Dreamgirls” finished in third place with just under $20 million. But while it pulled in only a third of the gross of “Museum,” “Dreamgirls” played in only a quarter of the theaters. The flick’s per-screen average of $21,915 was by far the biggest of any film in the top 20.

“Charlotte’s Web” — a film about “some pig” — turned out to be “some film” its third weekend in theaters, nearly doubling last week’s take to land in fourth place, while Robert De Niro’s “The Good Shepherd” rounded out the top five.

It was a tough weekend to be a new release. It turned out to be a very “Black Christmas” indeed, as the horror remake landed in 13th place with a paltry $4.6 million. “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Children of Men,” “Notes on a Scandal,” and “Perfume” all failed to crack $1 million — though the first two did boast impressive per-screen averages.

How’d We Do?

Ten weeks in and there’s still no runaway winner in our weekly box-office prediction contest — though we can’t help but note that the writer has a slight edge over the editor. By correctly predicting that America wanted to spend another collective night at the museum (see “Projection Booth: Beyonce Hopes Moviegoers Are Over ‘Christmas’ “ ), Larry Carroll takes the lead heading into 2007.

The current standings:

Prognosticator (weeks won)

Larry Carroll, MTV News writer (5)

Josh Horowitz, MTV News editor (4)

Guest celebrity (1)

In Perspective

2006 ended just strongly enough to push total ticket receipts past the 2005 mark. At approximately $9 billion, overall sales were still below sales for 2002 through 2004, but they are up from 2005. Five films cracked $200 million, and 18 movies earned $100 million in theaters this year.

The top five grossing movies of 2006:

#1 “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” ($423 million)

#2 “Cars” ($244 million)

#3 “X-Men: The Last Stand” ($234 million)

#4 “The Da Vinci Code” ($217 million)

#5 “Superman Returns” ($200 million)

Next Week

The animated feature “Happily N’Ever After” will face off with “Night at the Museum” for the family crowd, while the based-on-a-true-story drama “Freedom Writers” challenges “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The thought-provoking 50 Cent/ Samuel L. Jackson war drama “Home of the Brave” breaks into wide release, and Cedric the Entertainer looks for laughs with “Code Name: The Cleaner.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Night at the Museum”, “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Dreamgirls”.

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