SUNDAY AM: Holiday spirit ruled the box office, especially for Sony which scored its 13th No. 1 release this weekend and passed $1.573 billion in 2006 box office receipts — setting a new motion picture industry record for U.S. box office in a single year. I’m told Sony’s The Pursuit Of Happyness, even playing in fewer theaters than the competition, pit Will Smith (and his real-life son) against a dragon and spider and won its opening weekend with a big $27 million ticket receipts. The film made $9 mil Fri and $10.5 mil Sat (Sundays are projected). Also strong was the Harry Potter clone Eragon from Fox which debuted in 2nd place with a $23.6 mil weekend — $8.6 mil Fri and $8.7 mil Sat. Charlotte’s Web, the Babe lookalike from Paramount, opened #3 with $12.0 mil, after taking in $3.4 mil Fri and $4.6 mil Sat because of the matinee kiddie bounce. Even after five weeks outs, Warner’s Happy Feet again got the rug rats en masse, jumping from 6th place, with $2 mil Fri, to 4th place, with $3.7 mil Sat, for an $8.5 mil weekend ($149.4 mil cume). Sony’s one-week holdover The Holiday fell from 4th on Fri, with $2.6 mil, to 5th Sat, with $3.2 mil, for a weekend of $8.2 mil, and cume of $25.3 mil. Apocalypto, Disney’s R-rated Mel Gibson Mayan epic, finished 5th Fri with $2.2 mil (-54%) but fell to 6th after Sat’s $3.1 mil, to add a $7.7 mil weekend to its one-week cume of $27.9 mil. After a week, Warner’s Blood Diamond was #7, only making $1.8 mil Fri and $2.5 mil Sat, for a $6.5 mil weekend, despite its star Leo Dicaprio’s Golden Globes nominations and media blitz. It now has a disappointing cume of $18.6 mil. Sony made it three movies in the Top 10 this weekend when the Bond flick Casino Royale made another $1.6 mil Fri and $2.5 mil Sat for 8th place and a $5.7 mil weekend for a new cume of $137.6 mil. Globally, Bond will finish the weekend with $400+ mil, closing in on the biggest 007 ever, Die Another Day at $432 mil worldwide. New Line’s The Nativity continues to underperform, snagging 9th with $1.2 mil Fri and $1.8 mil Sat and what was a $4.5 mil weekend (meager new cume of $22.9 mil). And, No. 10, Warner’s Unaccompanied Minors, took in $1 mil Fri and $1.5 mil Sat its second week out for a weekend of $3.5 mil and new cume of $10 mil. Fox’s Eragon had been tracking strong with boys, and Paramount’s Web strong with girls, while Sony’s Forrest Gump-like feel-good flick looked to draw both sexes and all ages because of subject matter and starrer. Web won the theater count — 3,566 compared to Eragon‘s 3,020 and Pursuit‘s 2,852. Warner’s The Good German platformed in five theaters, making $22,000 Fri and $31,000 Sat for a $78,000 weekend debut. But the Oscar-buzzed Paramount/Dreamworks’ Dreamgirls — platforming in three giant venues in NY, LA and SF, each show sold out — scored an amazing $82,000 Fri, and $146,000 Sat, for a $329,000 opening weekend. For the 8th week of Paramount’s Babel, the Brad Pitt starrer had a 7% increase over last weekend, helped by its Golden Globe nominations. New cume is $18.3 mil.
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