'Juno' climbs high at box office

Disney sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” led for the third weekend in a row at the domestic box office, while Fox Searchlight cross-over hit “Juno” overtook all other big studio titles in becoming one of the hottest buns in the theatrical oven.

“Juno” rocketed up the B.O. chart to No. 2 as its cume grew to $51.7 million in only five weeks — one of the best showings ever for a specialty title so early in its run.

Even with the Christmas session over, theater traffic remained strong across the board. Warner Bros. horror entry “One Missed Call” — the only new wide release of the weekend –outpaced all expectations in debuting at $12.5 million from 2,240 theaters and coming in at No. 5.

Still, holiday holdovers dominated, in keeping with tradition for this time of year. B.O. was up 6%-7% from the same weekend in 2006.

Landing again at No. 1, “Book of Secrets” declined 44% in its third weekend to $20 million from 3,762 theaters, according to Rentrak; cume is $170.9 million. Still early in its run, franchise installment is already outshining the original “National Treasure,” which posted a final domestic gross of $173 million.

The race for No. 2 was close between “Juno” and Warner Bros. holdover “I Am Legend,” with “Juno” taking the lead once final figures were reported Monday by Rentrak. On Sunday, Warners said “Legend” had beat “Juno” for the No. 2 spot, irking Searchlight.

“Juno” grossed an estimated $15.9 million as it expanded from 1,019 theaters to 1,952 in its fifth frame. Cume of $51.7 million is the best for any specialty film released in 2007, outgunning Miramax’s “No Country for Old Men,” which has grossed $44.7 million to date.

“I Am Legend” declined 43% in its fourth frame to 15.7 million from 3,648 theaters for a whopping cume of $228.7 million, the best of any film since the summer.

Searchlight topper Peter Rice said “Juno” will be the highest-grossing Searchlight title ever by the end of its run, beating out “Sideways” ($71.5 million) and last year’s “Little Miss Sunshine” ($59.9 million).

“It’s an amazing number. The theaters that the movie was playing in last weekend actually went up. Its doing well across the country,” Rice said.

Focus Features’ specialty title “Atonement,” playing on just 538 screens, also had a good weekend, coming in No. 10 overall. James McAvoy-Keira Knightley starrer grossed $5 million for a cume of $19.1 million in its fifth weekend in limited release.

Placing No. 4 for the weekend was 20th Century Fox’s live-action/CGI hybrid “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Box office hit declined 46% to $15.5 million; cume is $176.3 million in its fourth frame.

Produced for under $70 million, “Alvin” has a shot at crossing the $200 million mark domestically.

Box office forecasters — including Warners itself — had expected “One Missed Call” to debut at between $6 million and $8 million. But the genre title hit the sweet spot among younger females, the target demo for PG-13 horror titles.

Early January is a popular time for horror films, with “Missed Call” nabbing one of the better opening numbers. Released in the same weekend in 2006, “Hostel” debuted at $19.5 million. Last January, however, “The Hitcher” grossed only $7.8 million, while “Primeval” debuted at $6 million.

WB is distributing the movie under its output deal with Alcon Entertainment.

Placing No. 6 for the weekend was Universal’s Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts topliner “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Showing strong legs, film declined a slim 33% in its third frame to $8.1 million from 2,594 runs for a healthy cume of $52.5 million.

Also in its third frame, Warners’ Hilary Swank-Gerard Butler romancer “P.S. I Love You” declined just 16%. Film took the No. 7 spot, grossing $7.8 million from 2,471 theaters; cume is $39.2 million.

“I Love You,” too, is from Alcon Entertainment, with Alcon, not Warners, putting up the money.

Coming in No. 8 for the weekend was Sony and Walden Media’s kid fantasy film “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep,” which declined 32% in its second weekend to $6.2 million from 2,777 runs. Cume is $30.8 million.

DreamWorks-Paramount’s Johnny Depp musical adaptation “Sweeney Todd,” directed by Tim Burton, hung in at No. 9. R-rated film declined 32% to $5.5 million from 1,249 runs for a cume of $38.6 million in its third frame.

Playing in roughly the same number of theaters as “Sweeney Todd,” MGM and the Weinstein Co.’s “The Great Debaters” wasn’t able to crack the top 10 chart. Placing No. 12 overall in its second weekend, “Debaters” declined 29% to $4.2 million from 1,290 theaters; cume is $22 million.

Disney’s Thanksgiving entry “Enchanted” fell off the top 10 list for the first time after a boffo run at the domestic box office. Over the weekend, the movie grossed $3.8 million from 1,932 runs for a cume of $119.8 million in its seventh frame.

Sony laffer “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” continued to lag in its third weekend, grossing $1.8 million from 2,041 for a cume of $17.3 million.

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