Indie comedy nabs $15.9 million, tops 'Legend'

Over the weekend, Fox Searchlight’s “Juno” rocketed up the box office chart to No. 2. That’s a feat no other indie hit has achieved in recent years.

But during that crucial window when distributors do Sunday press for their films based on estimated grosses, Warner Bros. reported that sci-fi thriller “I Am Legend” had come in second, ahead of “Juno.”

Estimated grosses had “Legend” at $16.4 million and “Juno” at $16.2 million. So when box office results appeared in Monday’s newspapers, “Juno” was at No. 3. (Taking No. 1 for the weekend was Disney sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”)

On Sunday, Searchlight topper Peter Rice immediately questioned Warners’ estimate, since Fox and several other studios showed “Juno” ahead of “Legend” in their own internal estimates.

Final weekend numbers posted Monday proved Rice correct. “Juno” was No. 2 at $15.9 million from 1,925 theaters, while “Legend” grossed $15.7 million from 3,648.

More often than not, actual box office numbers vary from Sunday estimates, but it’s not so common to see films switch positions on the top 10 chart.

Then again, all’s fair in love and war — particularly in the fiercely competitive box office derby.

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