‘American Gangster’ Scares Off Competition For Box-Office Win

'Bee Movie,' which screened in nearly 1,000 more theaters, opens at #2.

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 “American Gangster” ($46.3 million)
#2 “Bee Movie” ($39.1 million)
#3 “Saw IV” ($11 million)
#4 “Dan in Real Life” ($8.1 million)
#5 “30 Days of Night”($4 million)

Jerry Seinfeld and his bee pals swarmed multiplexes this past weekend, but leave it to a couple of old-school gangsters to put the sting back in the box office. Despite opening in nearly 1,000 fewer theaters than “Bee Movie,” “American Gangster” flew past its insect competition to claim #1 with $46.3 million, in the process helping to bump the box office up 12 percent from the same weekend last year. Now that’s what I call raiding the honey pot.

But forget for a second that “American Gangster” is the biggest opening ever for stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (and the second-biggest opening ever for director Ridley Scott). The true story of Harlem drug czar Frank Lucas earned nearly six times as much over its opening weekend as the stars’ last tag-team effort, “Virtuosity,” did in 1995. Sure they’ve been nominated for a combined five Oscars since then — and won twice — but only now can we officially strike that flick from the record. Let us never speak of it again.

While Russell and Denzel earned an A+ for second efforts, however, “Bee Movie” was more like a C. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s first major project since his landmark television show, the animated flick’s $39.1 million was good enough for only second place (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that”), within early projections but well below other CG cartoons. Rating only 54 percent positive on RottenTomatoes.com, there’s no telling how well “Bee Movie” will hold up over the Festivus holiday.

In its second weekend, the twisted machinations of Jigsaw were good for third place and $11 million, bringing the fourth installment of the torture franchise to over $50 domestically. “Dan in Real Life” and “30 Days of Night” rounded out the top five.

Among other new releases, John Cusack’s “Martian Child” came in seventh place with $3.7 million, while “Darfur Now” earned $24,000 in three theaters.

Next Week

It’s Christmas in November when Santa’s best little helper is his big brother Fred. Starring Vince Vaughn, Ludacris, Paul Giamatti and Rachel Weisz, “Fred Claus” opens in 3,400 theaters. But if anyone can give the big guy a run for his money, it’s gotta be Tom Cruise, right? (Sorry, am I being glib?) The NJ native returns to the big screen from his couch-jumping hiatus to star in “Lions for Lambs” alongside Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

Check out everything we’ve got on “American Gangster,” “Bee Movie” “Saw IV.”

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