This weekend I saw “Ocean’s Twelve” (it was okay).

‘Lemony Snicket’ Tops Box Office in Debut
LOS ANGELES – “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” brought in $30.2 million of good fortune to debut in first place at the weekend box office.
The film based on the first three children’s books by Lemony Snicket, who is actually author Daniel Handler, knocked the star-driven sequel “Ocean’s Twelve” to second place, according to studio estimates released Sunday.
“Spanglish,” a new Sony film starring Tea Leoni, Adam Sandler and Spanish actress Paz Vega, made its debut at third with an estimated weekend haul of $9 million.
Final figures were to be released Monday.
“Lemony Snicket” tells the story of a trio of orphans who try to defend themselves from greedy Count Olaf, played by Jim Carrey, who pursues the children by concealing himself as a variety of thinly veiled characters.
Playing in wide release at 3,620 theaters, “Lemony Snicket” averaged $8,343 a cinema.
“Jim Carrey and the books are really the primary driving forces behind it and the marketing seems to have worked very well,” said Wayne Lewellen, president of distribution for Paramount.
“The Aviator,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, opened in 40 theaters in New York, Los Angeles and “resort towns” ó near ski resorts and in Hawaii and Palm Springs ó in an attempt to catch vacationing Academy Awards voters, said Mike Rudnitsky, head of domestic distribution at Miramax.
The film earned $831,124 with a per screen average of $20,778.
“The Aviator,” which also features Cate Blanchett as Hughes’ legendary love Katharine Hepburn, will expand to about 1,750 screens on Christmas Day.
Other films in limited release that have been receiving Oscar buzz include Bill Murray’s quirky oceanography tale “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,” and “Million Dollar Baby,” with Hilary Swank portraying a woman who tries to improve her life of hard knocks by training as a boxer.
In its second week, “Life Aquatic” played on two screens in New York and Los Angeles and brought in $100,595, a drop of only 11 percent from its debut weekend. “Million Dollar Baby” has brought in $233,230 since its opening Wednesday with a per screen average of $29,153.
The success of “Lemony Snickets” continues a trend that has seen family oriented films scoring well at the box office, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
“It just seems the family market is insatiable in their need for new entertainment options,” Dergarabedian said.
“The Polar Express,” in particular, has continued to draw in family audiences, earning $8.6 million to bring its cumulative total over six weeks to $123.6 million. “Polar Express” saw only an 11 percent drop in its audience from the week before, while other top films had steeper falls, including “Ocean’s Twelve,” which lost 53 percent, and “Blade: Trinity,” which lost 59 percent and dropped from second to fifth.
Revenues from the top 12 movies were down 25 percent compared to last year, but the numbers were skewed because “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” made $72.6 million during its 2003 debut, Dergarabedian said.
Here are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.
1. “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” $30.2 million
2. “Ocean’s Twelve,” $18.3 million.
3. “Spanglish,” $9 million
4. “The Polar Express,” $8.6 million.
5. “Blade: Trinity,” $6.6 million.
6. “National Treasure,” $6.1 million.
7. “Christmas With the Kranks,” $5.7 million.
8. “The Flight of the Phoenix,” $5.1 million.
9. “Closer,” $3.5 million.
10. “The Incredibles,” $3.3 million.