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Box office remains ‘Enchanted’

Disney film still has box office charm

Disney’s “Enchanted” was princess of the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row, bringing its cume to $70.6 million in its first 12 days of release and putting the pic on track to be a lucrative holiday favorite for the Mouse House.

“Enchanted,” starring Amy Adams, easily won the weekend with an estimated haul of $17 million, down 51%, from 3,730 theaters, according to Rentrak.

The weekend’s only new wide release was MGM’s Hayden Christensen-Jessica Alba thriller “Awake,” which placed No. 4, grossing an estimated $6 million from 2,002.

“Awake,” from the Weinstein Co., proved no match for “Enchanted” and two other holdovers, Sony’s African-American holiday dramedy “This Christmas” and Paramount/Shangri-La Entertainment’s 3-D epic “Beowulf,” which placed Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. “Beowulf” is the biggest test yet of modern-day 3-D, and one that seems to be paying off, with the higher admission charge for 3-D screens dramatically boosting total receipts.

New Line Cinema sneaked big-budget fantasy “The Golden Compass” in 873 theaters Saturday. Studio reported that shows were at 85% capacity. In holding the sneaks, New Line was looking to boost interest in the film, which has been lagging in tracking, although awareness is high. “Compass” cost $180 million to produce.

All in all, the box office had trouble waking from its post-Thanksgiving slumber, in keeping with the drop that usually occurs after the holiday. Historically, even strong films can decline by 50% or more.

Theater traffic was more sluggish than usual, however, with the weekend down 10% vs. the same frame a year ago, when a stronger pack of pics led and three films — “Happy Feet” ($17.5 million), “Casino Royale” ($15.2 million) and “Deja Vu” ($11 million) — surpassed the $10 million mark. This year, “Enchanted” was the only one to gross more than $10 million.

It’s been a sobering autumn for studios and distribs, who have watched as the box office has remained down throughout the season. Year to date, however, B.O. is still up 5%, but the film biz needs a strong December to remain on the plus side overall. So far, the holiday season is running 11% behind last year’s.

Still, MGM and the Weinstein Co. were hardly complaining about “Awake,” the story of a man who is paralyzed but conscious during heart surgery. MGM prexy of distribution Clark Woods said the thriller exceeded expectations and is poised for a profitable run.

Pic was produced by GreeneStreet for $8.6 million, according to TWC.

“Between the grosses from this weekend; the sizable foreign pre-sales we created, which exceeded the film’s budget; and the homevideo infrastructure we have in place with Genius, ‘Awake’ will be another financially smart and strategic win for TWC,” Harvey Weinstein said.

“Enchanted” should have no trouble staying awake at the box office in the weeks to come. Pic is performing in line with last year’s “Happy Feet,” which grossed $198 million at the domestic box office.

Barry Josephson, who produced “Enchanted” with Barry Sonnenfeld, said it took more than a decade to bring the film to the bigscreen, and that director Kevin Lima was the ultimate winning factor when he boarded the project several years ago.

Also toplining Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden, “Enchanted” is a unique twist on Disney’s classic princess tale, beginning in an animated kingdom before switching to a live-action New York.

“The movie really plays. Word of mouth is what’s helping us the most,” Josephson said.

“Enchanted” isn’t the only family title finding its way.

In taking No. 2, Sony’s “Christmas” grossed an estimated $8.4 million, down 53%, from 1,858 playdates. Cume is $36.9 million in the pic’s first 12 days of release.

“To have this sort of success feels good. It is a perfect holiday picture,” said Sony prexy of distribution Rory Bruer.

Disney prexy of distribution Chuck Viane said, “To have two family movies at the top of the chart is something that in and of itself is really good.”

Fare for younger males is also working.

In its third frame, “Beowulf” grossed an estimated $7.9 million, down 52%, from 3,249 locations. Cume is $68.6 million.

Coming in No. 5, 20th Century Fox’s bigscreen vidgame adaptation “Hitman” grossed an estimated $5.8 million, down 56%, from 2,468 in its second frame; cume is $30.2 million.

After that, it was a return to family pics. Warner Bros.’ “Fred Claus” and “August Rush” were Nos. 6 and 7, respectively.

“Claus” declined 47% to an estimated $5.5 million from 3,420 theaters in its fourth frame; cume is $59.8 million. In its second frame, “Rush” declined 45% to an estimated $5.1 million from 2,310. Cume is $20.3 million.

On the specialty side, Miramax’s “No Country for Old Men” cracked the top 10 in its second weekend in wide release, grossing an estimated $4.5 million from 995 theaters for a per-location average of $4,524. Pic placed No. 8, virtually tied with Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s “Bee Movie.”

In its fifth frame, “Bee” grossed an estimated $4.47 million from 3,150 theaters for a decline of 62% and a cume of $117.6 million.

At No. 10 was Universal’s Denzel Washington-Russell Crowe starrer “American Gangster.” In its fifth frame, the mob-cop drama declined 53% to $4.3 million from 2,699 runs. Cume is $121.7 million.

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