"National Treasure" shines at crowded box office
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nicolas Cage unearthed the No. 1 spot at the North American box office on Sunday with "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," which earned more than the combined totals of four other high-powered newcomers.
The action sequel sold $45.5 million worth of tickets during its first three days, distributor Walt Disney Pictures said. Last weekend's champion, the Will Smith sci-fi thriller "I Am Legend," slipped to No. 2 with $34.2 million, taking the 10-day haul for the Warner Bros. release to $137.5 million.
The Twentieth Century Fox kids movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks," was also down one spot, to No. 3 with $29 million, and a 10-day total of $84.7 million.
Universal Pictures' fact-based political comedy "Charlie Wilson's War" opened at No. 4 with $9.6 million, just ahead of DreamWorks Pictures' Johnny Depp musical "Sweeney Todd" at No. 5 with $9.35 million. Both are leading contenders at the Golden Globes next month, with five and four nominations each, respectively.
Also new were Warner Bros' Hilary Swank romance "P.S. I Love You" at No. 6 with a modest $6.5 million, and Columbia Pictures' musical biopic spoof "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" at No. 8 with a disappointing $4.1 million.
The busy slate of new releases helped propel total sales to $163 million, up 36.5 percent over the same weekend last year, according to Media By Numbers, which collects box office data. The studios were bullish about their films, with Christmas Day and New Year's Day essentially giving them elongated weekends.
CAGE VS. CRITICS
The $45.5 million start for "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" compares with a $35 million launch for 2004's "National Treasure," which went on to make $173 million, the biggest film of Cage's career. It also earned $173 million overseas. Cage spent two weeks at No. 1 in February with "Ghost Rider," which started with $45 million on its way to $116 million domestically. Continued...