'National Treasure' Is Box-Office Gold, While 'I Am Legend' Continues Making History

'Charlie Wilson's War,' 'Walk Hard' fall short of expectations.

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" ($45.5 million)

#2 "I Am Legend" ($34.2 million)

#3 "Alvin and the Chipmunks" ($29 million)

#4 "Charlie Wilson's War" ($9.6 million)

#5 "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"($9.4 million)

Wouldn't you know it? Ben Gates spends a fortune zigzagging halfway across the globe on a hunt for hidden treasure, and the biggest gift of all was under his tree the whole time. "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," the second go-round for Gates (Nic Cage) and his clue-obsessed clan, scored a Christmas miracle, earning $45.5 million over the three-day weekend to claim the top spot at the holiday box office. It was the eighth-biggest December opening of all time and nearly 30 percent more than the first "National Treasure" made three years ago.

Santa's bag, meanwhile, was still full of gifts for Hollywood's nicest little boy, as Will Smith's "I Am Legend" scorched past $100 million with a second-place finish of $34.2 million. After two weeks and an overall total of $137 million, the apocalyptic thriller has earned blockbuster status and is well on its way to $200 million domestically. We're talking serious fruitcake money here, people.

Also in its second week, "Alvin and the Chipmunks" fell to third with $29 million, bringing its overall total to close to $90 million. Poor Dave — all Alvin wanted was a hula-hoop.

In fourth place comes Donner and Blitzin, er, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, whose "Charlie Wilson's War" earned a respectable — if somewhat low — $9.6 million. The political comedy is the lowest earner for Hanks since "That Thing You Do!" in 1996. With political/war dramas like "Lions for Lambs," "The Kingdom," "In the Valley of Elah," and "Rendition" all becoming box-office disappointments this year, some might say the climate is inhospitable for Iraq-themed pictures. But we say co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman's nose just didn't glow quite red enough.

In fifth place, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" Street" — starring Johnny Depp as a murderous stylist out for revenge — earned $9.4 million in only 1,249 theaters. Deck the halls with gobs of blood — the musical expands beginning next week.

Among other new releases, "P.S. I Love You" starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler ("This is madness? No, this is loooove!") came in sixth place with $6.5 million, but it pains us to say that the biggest lump of coal was reserved for Judd Apatow and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story." The very funny movie earned a dismal $4.1 million, well off the mark established by earlier Apatow comedies like "Knocked Up" and "Superbad." We made a list and checked it twice: This flick deserved better.

Upcoming Releases

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care for these movies that opened on Christmas Day: "Alien vs. Predator" and Denzel Washington's "The Great Debaters." Also opening on Friday are "The Bucket List" starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, and P.T. Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" with Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano.

Check out everything we've got on "I Am Legend," "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story."

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