‘Nativity’ bow finds no room at the inn

Birds, Bond and Denzel repeat on top

In a customarily slow frame following the Thanksgiving movie feast, auds were more in the mood for second helpings of penguins, 007 and Denzel Washington than for any new fare.

Warner Bros.’ B.O. champ “Happy Feet” reigned for a third straight frame, while Sony’s “Casino Royale” followed closely behind and Disney’s sci-fi thriller “Deja Vu” took third for the second frame in a row.

The last CG-animated pic to lead domestic box office three weekends straight was 2004’s “Shark Tale”; “Shrek 2” matched that mark earlier that year. Both those toons were from DreamWorks.

New rollouts had a tough time drawing auds: Widest newbie of the frame, New Line’s “The Nativity Story” on more than 3,000 playdates, birthed just over $8 million to bow fourth on the charts.

Pic, directed by “Lords of Dogtown” helmer Catherine Hardwicke, saw a per-screen average of $2,603 — “on the lower end” of what the studio had been hoping, New Line distribution head David Tuckerman said.

Horror pic “Turistas,” the first movie from Fox genre arm Atomic, took in $3.5 million off 1,570 to hit No. 8 in its bow. Pic had been acquired for about $4 million.

MGM’s latest installment in the “Van Wilder” teen comedy series — from the Bauer-Martinez label — barely made the top 10, grabbing $2.29 million off almost 2,000 engagements. Per-screen average was below $2,000 as teen auds were still turning out for Fox’s “Borat,” which took in another $4.8 million; its total tally is $116.3 million.

“Happy Feet” dropped 54% from the previous frame but still managed to rake in another $17 million, raising cume to $121 million domestically. Per-engagement average was a plump $4,481.

Previously this year, only “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” led the B.O. three times consecutively.

For the third weekend in a row, Sony brass were happy to chant “We’re No. 2!” as the studio’s “Casino Royale” followed solidly behind Warners’ animated penguins.

Bond pic rolled $15.1 million off 3,386 screens to up cume to almost $116 million. “Casino Royale” also crossed the $300 million mark worldwide over the frame and was No. 1 internationally.

Pic will likely cross $500 million worldwide.

Disney’s Denzel Washington starrer landed at No. 3 as the top three pics remained the same for two weekends straight. “Deja Vu” brought in $11 million off 3,108.

Biz overall was down sharply from last frame’s bloated Turkey Day frame. The top 10 pics had combined over Thanksgiving weekend to stuff $140.7 million in Hollywood’s coffers. The top 10 barely broke $77 million this time around, but that number was up from a year ago, when the top 10 earned a mild $73.3 million.

“Happy Feet” biz dipped by 54% and “Casino Royale” fell 51% over a frame where losses of 60% can be customary, said brass from Warners and Sony.

As for the “Nativity” bow — coming as Hollywood more aggressively aims to target faith-based demos — New Line’s Tuckerman said the pic possibly suffered from winter weather in the Midwest. “This movie was made for the red states,” he said. But he also mentioned that the studio wanted to plant their Christmas flag early in anticipation of a busy December and that he expects buzz to build in smaller markets and buoy biz.

Also in the top 10, holdover holiday comedies “Deck the Halls” and “The Santa Clause 3” continued to make solid holds in the fifth and sixth spots, respectively.

Sony’s literary Will Ferrell comedy “Stranger Than Fiction” also continued to hang in the mix. Pic finished at No. 9, with $3.4 million off 1,885. Cume is almost $37 million in a crowded movie season.

Holdovers “Happy Feet,” “Casino Royale” and the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Deja Vu” have been taking their toll on newer pics that have sunk off the charts after a few frames. After two seshes, “Deck” has taken in nearly $25 million, and “Santa,” after four, is approaching $70 million.

Warners’ sci-fi romance “The Fountain,” from helmer Darren Aronofsky, was still screening in almost 1,500 locations in its second frame. Hugh Jackman-Rachel Weisz starrer has played to just over $8 million in its two weeks of release. Its most recent three-day take was $1.6 million, for a per-screen average of just $1.107 million. Biz was off 57%.

Paramount’s “Flushed Away” — a CG family pic from DreamWorks Animation and Aardman — has been getting doused by “Happy Feet.” Pic has taken in $60.1 million after five weeks in the marketplace. It was still playing in 2,053 locations.

MGM political drama “Bobby” shot down just over $2 million in its second weekend of wide release, with a per-engagement average of $1,201 off 1,670. Cume is $9.2 million.

Most recent frame also served as fertile ground for studios sneaking upcoming product.

Sony screened its romantic comedy “The Holiday” in various markets, while Warners showed sneaks of its political pic “Blood Diamond” and comedy “Unaccompanied Minors.”