‘Happy Feet’ dances atop box office
LOS ANGELES – A dancing penguin was king of the Thanksgiving birds among movie-goers. The animated penguin romp “Happy Feet” remained the No. 1 movie with $37.9 million in ticket sales from Friday to Sunday, while the James Bond adventure “Casino Royale” stayed in second place with $31 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Over the Wednesday-to-Sunday holiday period, “Happy Feet,” from Warner Bros., took in $51.5 million while Sony’s “Casino Royale” did $45.1 million.
Disney’s thriller “Deja Vu,” starring Denzel Washington as a police officer bouncing back in time to try to prevent a deadly ferry explosion, led new movies with $20.8 million for the weekend and $29 million since opening Wednesday.
The 20th Century Fox comedy “Deck the Halls,” with Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito as neighbors feuding over excessive Christmas lights, debuted at No. 4 with a $12 million weekend and $16.9 million since it premiered Wednesday.
It was a sturdy but unremarkable holiday weekend overall, with the top 12 movies taking in $208.1 million from Wednesday to Sunday, down 3.4 percent from last year, when ” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” took in $81 million to lead Hollywood to its second-best Thanksgiving ever. The best Thanksgiving period was in 2000, when the top 12 films grossed $232.1 million.
A flurry of movies debuted or expanded from limited release, led by writer-director Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby,” weaving together the stories of 22 characters gathered at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
“Bobby,” from MGM and the Weinstein Co., came in at No. 9 over the weekend with $4.9 million.
Warner Bros. debuted director Darren Aronofsky’s fantasy “The Fountain,” starring “Happy Feet” co-star Hugh Jackman as a man who lives a 1,000-year adventure. “The Fountain” had a $3.7 million weekend to finish at No. 10.
New Line’s “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” with Jack Black and musical partner Kyle Gass in a spoof of how their folk-rock duo came to be, opened at No. 11 with $3.3 million over the weekend.
Christopher Guest’s Hollywood satire “For Your Consideration” pulled in $2 million in its first weekend of wide release.
Debuting in limited release, Fox Searchlight’s “The History Boys” took in a solid $100,721 in just seven theaters. Adapted from the Tony-winning stage play about British teens angling for acceptance to Oxford and Cambridge, the film gradually expands to nationwide release through Dec. 22.
While “Happy Feet” started out mainly a family film, good reviews and word-of-mouth pulled in more adults without children, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros.
Along with ravishing computer-animated visuals, the adult appeal of “Happy Feet” includes a positive environmental statement and wall-to-wall pop tunes reinterpreted by its vocal cast, led by Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, Jackman and Robin Williams.
“I think it’s just a good message, and it’s just well made. And we all like the music,” Fellman said. “Happy Feet” raised its 10-day total to $100.1 million.
With a 10-day domestic total of $94.2 million and a worldwide haul of $224 million, “Casino Royale” is on course to pass 2002’s “Die Another Day ($161 million domestically and $432 million worldwide) to become the top-grossing Bond flick, said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony.
Here are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Happy Feet,” $37.9 million.
2. “Casino Royale,” $31 million.
3. “Deja Vu,” $20.8 million.
4. “Deck the Halls,” $12 million.
5. “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” $10.4 million.
6. “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” $10 million.
7. “Stranger Than Fiction,” $6 million.
8. “Flushed Away,” $5.8 million.
9. “Bobby,” $4.9 million.
10. “The Fountain,” $3.7 million.
‘Happy Feet’ dances atop box office