MOVIE BUSINESS BETTER THAN EVER THIS CHRISTMAS
In a crowded pre-Christmas frame, Disney's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" uncovered $16.6 million in box office gold on Friday at 3,832 theaters. The sequel's first day haul marked opening day highs for both headliner Nicolas Cage and helmer Jon Turteltaub, whose previous respective records were for last February's "Ghost Rider" ($15.4 million) and 2004's "National Treasure" ($11.1 million).
"Secrets" looks to maintain its lead throughout the weekend with its final three-day take clocking in higher than "Rider's" $45.4 million. "National Treasure" bowed to $35.1 million in November 2004.
Overall, the top 10 films unwrapped a healthy $50 million at the Friday box office, up 28% over the same day a year ago.
While the second Friday for Warner Bros.' "I Am Legend" slowed down 64% from its opening day, the Will Smith starrer collected $10.9 million from 3,620 sites for second place, raising its eight-day total to $114.2 million.
Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" managed to store $8.4 million in third from 3,499 trees, down 37%, for a total cume of $64.3 million.
The theater count for DreamWorks-Paramount/Warner Bros.' horror musical "Sweeney Todd" might have been smaller than other frosh wide openers yesterday, but that didn't hinder the Tim Burton pic from clipping $3.8 million from 1,249 locales for fourth place.
Following "Todd" was Universal's Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts topliner "Charlie Wilson's War" which grossed $2.8 million from 2,575 theaters for fifth.
In sixth, Warner Bros.' Hilary Swank-Gerard Butler vehicle "P.S. I Love" romanced $2.4 million from holiday moviegoers in 2,454.
Sony's music biopic satire "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" generated few guffaws in seventh place, collecting $1.5 million from 2,650 concert halls. Disney's Thanksgiving opener "Enchanted" followed in eighth with $1.3 million from 2,752, down 23%, and a total cume of $95.5 million.
New Line's "The Golden Compass," which has translated more to overseas auds since its release three weeks ago (foreign B.O. $100 million) than stateside crowds, dropped 54% from last Friday to ninth with $1.2 million off 2,953 and a domestic take of $45.6 million.
'INTO THE WILD' TOPS SAG NOMINATIONS
Few sure bets are emerging this year, and SAG presented multiple noms to only four films -- including "American Gangster," "Michael Clayton" and "No Country for Old Men" -- and single mentions to 13 pics.
Nominees for the ensemble-cast prize also include dramas "3:10 to Yuma," "American Gangster" and "No Country for Old Men," along with musical comedy "Hairspray."
SAG also inaugurated stunt awards with noms for the work in "300," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "I Am Legend," "The Kingdom" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."
The accelerated awards season may have taken its toll on late-year openers. Of the big films opening in December, only a handful scored SAG noms. Left out were such pics as "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd" (both earned big noms in last week's Golden Globes), "Charlie Wilson's War," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "The Great Debaters" and "The Savages."
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