Auds chow down at Thanksgiving B.O.

Penguins, secret agents, sci-fi thrillers fill holiday menu

When families gather around the Thanksgiving table, the results can be downright unpredictable, but that wasn’t the case for Hollywood studios over the five day holiday weekend at the B.O. as two holdovers – “Happy Feet” and “Casino Royale” — ruled the roost as they did a week ago.

Of the frame’s new openers, Disney’s “Déjà vu” and Fox’s “Deck the Halls” fared best, as pros had predicted, while Warners’ “The Fountain,” MGM’s expanding “Bobby” and New Line’s “Tenacious D” rock comedy all struggled mightily for attention in what’s sizing up to be a very crowded holiday movie season.

Warner Bros.’ CG animated penguin pic “Happy” crossed the $100 million mark after just two weeks in release by dancing to a five-day take of $51.5 million. Pic had a three-day perf of $37.9 million off its 3,804 playdates for a plump per engagement average of $9,975.

PG-rated pic — which beat out “Casino Royale,” in part, by closing its gender gap to begin attracting more males in its second weekend — doesn’t have too much competish in its way for family auds until Christmas comes round. Warners is now predicting the pic can ultimately pass $200 million as it plays into January.

“Feet”‘s two-weekend B.O. stomp has hurt Paramount/DreamWorks Animation’s “Flushed Away,” a CG pic about rats which has cumed $57.3 million over four weeks of release. “Flushed” took in $7.6 million over the five day Thanksgiving holiday.

Latest James Bond pic, Sony’s PG-13-rated “Casino,” starring Daniel Craig as a blond Bond, also couldn’t stave off the penguin attack for the second straight frame, but the suave secret agent still had reason to celebrate: “Casino” is destined to become the highest grossing Bond pic in franchise history.

“Casino” shot down $45.1 million in five days, and $31 million in three over the Thanksgiving sesh off 3,443. Its per engagement average over the three days was just over $9,000, and attendance dropped off just 21% from the previous three-day frame, as the pic has picked up strong notices and word of mouth.

“Casino”‘s three-day take of $31 million matched the last Bond pic’s second frame to the penny. Pic has cumed over $94 million domestically and crossed $215 million so far worldwide.

Best opening for a new pic over the Turkey Day frame was Disney’s “Déjà vu,” the Denzel Washington-starrer from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, which bowed at No. 3 with $29 million over five days off 3,108.

Pic hit $20.8 million over three days, for a per engagement average of $6,704, and was Washington’s seventh opening over $20 million.

Washington’s last pic, Spike Lee’s “Inside Man,” however, opened to almost $29 million earlier this year, the biggest bow ever for a Washington topliner.

Fox’s Christmas comedy “Deck the Halls,” meantime, decorated the studio’s coffers with $12 million over three days and almost $17 million over five by appealing mostly to females. Fox brass was somewhat stumped as to why the pic – starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito as warring neighbors – skewed so strongly to the fairer sex: with over 60% of the pic’s auds comprised of females.

The studio had projected the pic might finish a bit more strongly over the frame. Perhaps some biz was funneled by another Xmas pic, Disney’s latest “Santa Clause” movie, which had a strong hold, jumping 21% over the three day frame and taking in over $10 million to raise its cume to more than $67 million.

Pic, which landed at No. 6 on the charts, is part of the successful Tim Allen franchise.

Fox’s holdover “Borat” rounded out the top five charts, taking in $15.4 million over the five-day holiday to raise it cume to nearly $110 million.

“Borat” is now being boosted by repeat biz, as the demos on an R-rated comedy only give the studio access to so many eyeballs.

Other new wide studio openers didn’t fare so well with so many strong holdovers in play.

Warner and Regency’s arty sci-fi epic “The Fountain,” from “Requiem for a Dream” helmer Darren Aronofsky, and New Line’s rock ‘n’ roll laffer “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny” were left to scrap it out for No. 10 on the charts come Sunday.

“Fountain,” starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, drained just $5.4 million off 1,472 engagements over five days, as it had to go up against a bevy of brainy specialty films also aiming for the same auds. Pic’s three day take was $3.7 million for a per engagement average of $2,531.

“Tenacious,” starring burly funnyman Jack Black, rocked just $5.4 million over five days, and $3.2 million over three off 1,919 gigs. Pic’s aud may have been distracted by another big screen version of an HBO series in Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat.”

Also having a tough time finding auds was MGM’s “Bobby,” which expanded from its limited run into 1,667 engagements. Starry ensembler surrounding the death of Bobby Kennedy took in $4.9 over the three-day frame. MGM distribution topper Clark Woods said that the studio was “disappointed” with the results but would hang in and try to let word of mouth build.

Harvey Weinstein – whose TWC has a distribution deal with MGM – pointed out that the studio opted not to release the pic on Wednesday out of respect for JFK’s assassination, and that the pic did play well on Saturday once auds found it in the Thanksgiving melee.

In other runs, Sony’s cerebral “Stranger Than Fiction” dropped just 9%, finding $6 million over three days to raise its total take to date to $32.7 million. Pic stars Will Farrell as a man whose life is mysteriously being run by a female novelist.

Combined biz of the top ten pics over the frame nearly matched the Thanksgiving sesh a year ago, when two holdovers — Warners’ latest “Harry Potter” pic and Fox’s “Walk the Line” finished in the top two spots.

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