Two new wide releases enter field

As it adds even more theaters, Fox Searchlight’s crossover hit “Juno” will see competition this weekend from two new wide entries, Warner Bros.’ Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman starrer “The Bucket List” and Sony-Screen Gems’ Ice Cube-Tracy Morgan urban laffer “First Sunday.”

“Juno,” which expands from 1,925 runs to 2,448, moved up to No. 1 at the box office this week after coming in No. 2 last weekend. Pic grossed $55.7 million through Wednesday in one of the best showings ever for a specialty film.

The question now is whether “Juno” can outperform “Bucket List” and “First Sunday.”

“Bucket List,” directed by Rob Reiner, goes into 2,911 theaters. It has been playing in an exclusive, 16-theater run since Dec. 25, grossing $1.4 million through Wednesday. Some tracking numbers suggest “Bucket List” could take the weekend crown.

“First Sunday,” also starring Katt Williams, bows in 2,213 sites. Written and directed by David E. Talbert, pic revolves around two bumbling petty criminals. Tracking is strong.

On the specialty side, Focus Features’ “Atonement” expands from 583 theaters to 950, in concert with Sunday’s announcement of Golden Globes winners. “Atonement” has been nominated in seven categories, including drama, the most of any title. “Juno” sports three, including musical or comedy.

Elsewhere on the specialty front, Picturehouse expands Spanish thriller “The Orphanage” from 69 theaters to 707.

On Saturday, the Metropolitan Opera pipes in a live, high-def digital presentation of “Macbeth” in 441 theaters in North America as part of its ongoing theatrical series.

The fate of the weekend’s two other wide releases isn’t clear.

Universal bows animated sequel “Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie” on 1,336 screens. U is distributing the pic for Big Idea Prods. and didn’t put up any financing.

Created by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki, the VeggieTales property includes direct-to-DVD movies, books and toys featuring anthropomorphic vegetables. There’s often a Christian undertone to the storylines. Released theatrically in 2002, “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie” grossed $25.6 million domestically.

Freestyle Releasing bows bigscreen vidgame adaptation “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” in 1,605 theaters. Based on the “Dungeon Siege” vidgame series, film was directed by Uwe Boll and produced by Brightlight Pictures. It is rated PG-13.

On the foreign front, “I Am Legend” looks likely to rack up its fourth straight victory. The Will Smith vehicle’s launching in Germany and Italy and had gone past $180 million as of Wednesday after winning in virtually every market.

“The Golden Compass,” which has finished second offshore for the past three frames, will also be a significant player given its foreign traction thus far. Fantasy’s hit a robust $231 million international cume despite a domestic take of just $65 million.

The frame will see Fox romantic comedy “27 Dresses” launch in Australia, a week ahead of the domestic opening — which has been pushed back Stateside until Jan. 18 to take advantage of the Martin Luther King holiday.

Australia, which is in the midst of its summer holiday season, will also see the launch of “American Gangster.” The crime drama, which has cumed $74 million overseas midway through its foreign run, will likely be aided in Oz by the star power of native son Russell Crowe.

U’s also expanding “Charlie Wilson’s War” into Greece and the U.K., the pic’s first major markets, and “Atonement” into Spain, Sweden and Taiwan. “Atonement” has already grossed $39 million internationally.

Disney’s expanding its holiday-season duo, with “Enchanted” going into South Korea and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” launching in Holland, Norway and Sweden. And Paramount’s taking “The Kite Runner” into Holland and Mexico.

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