'Beowulf' Slays Santa, Seinfeld At Box Office

'American Gangster' set to become Denzel Washington's most successful film.

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 "Beowulf" ($28.1 million)

#2 "Bee Movie" ($14.3 million)

#3 "American Gangster" ($13.2 million)

#4 "Fred Claus" ($12 million)

#5 "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"($10 million)

Not since Mrs. Quirk's 12th-grade English class have so many enjoyed a taste of the Anglo-Saxon, as one of the oldest epic poems in the English tradition became the newest box-office champ of 2007. Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf" slew the competition to arrive at first place with a beastly horde of $28.1 million -- a kingly ransom any hero would be glad to be buried with. Can a high-tech, revisionist take on "The Wife of Bath" be far behind?

We wouldn't put it past Zemeckis (who is, in fact, working on "A Christmas Carol"), a middle-aged whiz kid who hasn't lost his populist touch, while simultaneously pushing new technological ground with films such as "Beowulf" and "The Polar Express," both animated with futuristic motion-capture techniques and rendered using the newest advances in digital 3D. The Academy Award-winner is the second-most successful director in history, according to life-time, cumulative box-office gross. With titles including "Back to the Future," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Forrest Gump" and "Cast Away," Zemeckis' movies have made nearly $2 billion -- more than any other director except Steven Spielberg.

A blockbuster nearly 1,300 years in the making made short work of last week's winner, as Jerry Seinfeld's "Bee Movie" fell roughly 44 percent to buzz into second place with $14.3 million. Also in its third week, "American Gangster" came in third with $13.2 million, bringing the total for Ridley Scott's latest to over $100 million. By next weekend, it will almost certainly eclipse "Remember the Titans" to become Denzel Washington's most successful movie ever.

"Fred Claus" fell to #4 in its second week, while "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," a children's fantasy about a magical toy store that comes to life, rounded out the top five, having earned $10 million.

Among other new releases, "Love in the Time of Cholera" (a "morbid" title, Steve Martin once jokingly wrote) could have used a little of whatever made Gabriel García Márquez's Remedios float. Instead, the generational love story sunk to a 10th-place finish, earning just $1.9 million. Meanwhile, for Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales," it really was the end of the world. The apocalyptic tale earned just $117,000 in 63 theaters.

Finally, several months after MTV first reported that [article id="1570507"]"Smiley Face"[/article] was going straight to DVD, the stoner comedy starring Anna Faris opened in just one theater, and earned a dismal $6,500. It was the lowest amount for any film tracked this weekend.

Upcoming Releases

Pass the cranberry sauce and say a Thanksgiving prayer for a slew of holiday releases making their way to theaters this week, including "Enchanted," an animation/ live-action hybrid from Disney; "Hitman," a video-game adaptation starring Timothy Olyphant; "The Mist," the latest collaboration between master storytellers Stephen King and Frank Darabont; and "This Christmas," a family farce starring MTV fave Chris Brown.

Check out everything we've got on "Beowulf," "Bee Movie" and "American Gangster."

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