The Box-Office Top Five
#1 "I Am Legend" ($76.5 million)
#2 "Alvin and the Chipmunks" ($45 million)
#3 "The Golden Compass" ($9 million)
#4 "Enchanted" ($6 million)
#5 "No Country for Old Men"($3 million)
Faster than the White Witch, more powerful than the One Ring, able to leap King Kong in a single frame — Will Smith officially certified himself as Hollywood's Superman this past weekend, leading "I Am Legend" to an astounding $76.5 million. The gargantuan haul eclipsed "The Chronicles of Narnia," "Meet the Fockers," "King Kong" and all three "Lord of the Rings" movies to become the biggest December opening in history.
Arriving the same weekend as last year's "The Pursuit of Happyness" (another Smith vehicle that demolished expectations), "Legend" cements Smith as Hollywood's biggest, most bankable star. Consider that his last three movies were all of different genres — an action flick ("Legend"), a melodrama ("Happyness") and a romantic comedy ("Hitch") — and that all three went on to cruise (or, in the case of "Legend," will certainly cruise) well past $100 million with ease. Consider too that he's been twice-nominated for an Oscar. Is there another actor who could do all that? As Smith himself might say, "Aww, hell no!"
A rising tide lifts all ships, and nothing proved that more this past weekend than the surprising total for "Alvin and the Chipmunks," which finished in second place with $45 million, more than "Enchanted," "Fred Claus," "Bee Movie" or "The Game Plan" — more than any other family film, in fact, since "The Simpsons Movie" opened in August. How big a surprise is the opening for "Chipmunks"? Only three movies have ever made more money while not opening in first place — and none of them are based on a 1960s-novelty-act-turned-cheesy-'80s cartoon.
In third place, "The Golden Compass" earned only $9 million in its second week, a ghastly drop of 65 percent. While the flick is scoring decently overseas it's nothing short of a complete disaster Stateside, with only $40 million after two weeks. Our pledge: We will continue to remind distributor New Line of this debacle until it is shamed into agreeing with Peter Jackson on terms for a "Hobbit" movie.
And while "Enchanted" continued its climb toward $100 million with a fourth place finish, it was the Coens' "No Country for Old Men" that impressed the most. The flick many are calling the best of the year (and a shoo-in for Oscar glory) soared into the top five in its sixth week of release, earning $3 million.
Among other new releases, "The Perfect Holiday" came in seventh place, earning $2.5 million.
Sing the praises of Cox ... Dewey Cox, that is — the greatest performer who never was and the star of "Walk Hard," the hilarious new film from Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan. The weekend treasure is his for the taking, assuming Ben Gates (Nic Cage) and company don't get to it first. "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" opens in 3,500 theaters. Meanwhile, if there's one Hollywood star who could give Smith a run for his money, it's Tom Hanks, whose latest, "Charlie Wilson's War," opens this Friday as well.
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