‘Cat’ Tops Weekend Box Office by Whisker
LOS ANGELES – The Cat in the Hat came back to narrowly beat Eddie Murphy at the box office over a Thanksgiving weekend dominated by family flicks.
“Dr. Seuss’ the Cat in the Hat” earned $25.6 million from Friday to Sunday to finish as the No. 1 movie, a whisker ahead of Murphy’s spooky comedy “The Haunted Mansion.”
The 10-day total for “The Cat in the Hat,” starring Mike Myers as the mischievous feline, hit $77 million. “The Haunted Mansion” earned $25.3 million, and has grossed $35 million since its debut Wednesday.
Will Ferrell’s “Elf” held up well with $22.2 million, lifting its four-week sum to $130.1 million. “Elf” became the 24th movie released in 2003 to top $100 million, tying last year’s record of 24 films over that mark.
“Thanksgiving is the perfect time for family films, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “If you’ve got the kids home and you have family activities going on, what better way to keep the family together than going to the movies?”
In initial box office reporting early Sunday, The Haunted Mansion had the top spot, but Universal revised its numbers upward to put “The Cat in the Hat” in the lead. Rankings could change again when final numbers are reported Monday.
Universal spokesman Jeffrey Sackson said a company publicist had released incorrect weekend numbers early Sunday. The company called reporters to correct the error once it was discovered, he said.
The family films held off a rush of new movies for adults. Billy Bob Thornton’s “Bad Santa,” about a foul-mouthed boozer who poses as a mall Santa to rob department stores, debuted at No. 6 with $12.5 million from Friday to Sunday and $16.8 million since opening Wednesday.
Ron Howard’s Old West thriller “The Missing,” starring Cate Blanchett as a pioneer woman who enlists her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) to track her abducted daughter, premiered at No. 7 with an $11.7 million weekend and $16.5 million since its Wednesday debut.
The sci-fi adventure “Timeline,” about a team of archaeologists hurled back in time to a deadly 14th century battle, opened in eighth place with $8.5 million for the weekend and $12.6 million since premiering Wednesday.
If figures hold when final numbers are released Monday, this would be Hollywood’s second-best Thanksgiving weekend ever. The top 12 movies took in $209.5 million from Wednesday to Sunday, ahead of the $208 million haul for the previous No. 2 Thanksgiving weekend in 1999.
The best Thanksgiving weekend ever was in 2000, when “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” paced the industry to a $232.2 million haul.
Based on Disney’s theme-park attraction, “The Haunted Mansion” stars Murphy as a real-estate salesman stuck with his family in a big old house full of ghosts. Playing in 3,122 theaters, “The Haunted Mansion” averaged a solid $8,104 a cinema from Friday to Sunday.
Like “The Cat in the Hat” the previous weekend, “The Haunted Mansion” found a solid audience despite bad reviews. Critics tend to judge family flicks too harshly, said Disney head of distribution Chuck Viane.
“They’re sometimes put up against a much more critical standard than they should be,” Viane said. “You have people who want everything to be so artistic. That’s not what family movies are about. They’re about enjoyment and laughter and having fun.”
Three films did well in limited-release debuts. Jim Sheridan’s semi-autobiographical “In America” ó about an Irish family adapting to life in New York City ó had a weekend haul of $202,730 in 11 theaters, averaging $18,430 a cinema.
“The Cooler,” a black comedy starring William H. Macy as a Las Vegas loser paying off casino debts by working as a “jinx” on other gamblers, grossed $130,000 in 11 theaters, averaging $11,818.
The madcap French animated flick “The Triplets of Belleville” took in $114,636 in six theaters for a $19,106 average.
Here are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Dr. Seuss’ the Cat in the Hat,” $25.6 million.
2. “The Haunted Mansion,” $25.3 million.
3. “Elf,” $22.2 million.
4. “Gothika,” $12.71 million.
5. “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” $12.7 million.
6. “Bad Santa,” $12.5 million.
7. “The Missing,” $11.7 million.
8. “Timeline,” $8.5 million.
9. “Love Actually,” $8.2 million.
10. “Brother Bear,” $4.9 million.
‘Cat’ Tops Weekend Box Office by Whisker