Alien smackdown brings Christmas joy to box office

Thu Dec 27, 2007 1:04am EST
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By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Those darn aliens and predators upset the box office hierarchy established during the weekend before Christmas.

Bowing on Christmas Day, Fox's "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem," the second installment in the intergalactic smackdown, took the third-place slot with a single-day gross of $9.5 million.

But while "AVP" flaunted its status as R-rated holiday counterprogramming with the ad line "No Peace on Earth," the day's other new arrivals struck a more hopeful, seasonal note.

The inspirational period drama "The Great Debaters," which MGM is releasing for the Weinstein Co., debuted at No. 6 with $3.6 million but enjoyed a per-theater average that ranked just below the top wide releases.

The Scottish-accented fantasy "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," a Sony release, squeezed into ninth place with $2.4 million.

In exclusive release, Warner Bros.' "The Bucket List," starring warhorses Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, chalked up $161,840 in just 16 theaters for a per-screen average of $10,115, while Sony Classics' release of the animated Iranian history lesson "Persepolis" captured $37,118 on seven screens for a per-screen average of $5,303.

After dipping on Monday as many theaters closed early for Christmas Eve, the overall box office rebounded on Christmas Day. And with so many businesses making do with skeletal staffs through year's end, distributors looked forward to weekend-like business throughout the rest of the week.

Disney's sequel "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," which bowed Friday, easily held on to the top spot for Christmas Day, luring in an additional $13.7 million as the Nicolas Cage adventure hit the $65 million mark.   Continued...

<p>Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in a scene from "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" in an image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures. REUTERS/Handout</p>