LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Despite regular calls from theater owners for a "12-month releasing year," the studios avoid opening movies at certain periods -- and early January is certainly one of them.
Of course, that's good news for "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," which is likely to log a third round at No. 1 during the first box office weekend of 2008.
The Nicolas Cage adventure has earned $143 million to date in North America, and appears well on its way to $200 million-plus. A 50% drop from its most recent Friday-Sunday grosses would result in a roughly $18 million haul this weekend.
The one major new release "One Missed Call," a Warner Bros. thriller starring Edward Burns and Shannyn Sossamon, is unlikely to gross higher than the upper single-digit millions.
Fox's kids movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and Warner Bros.' sci-fi thriller "I Am Legend" rounded out the top three last weekend. Fourth-ranked "Charlie Wilson's War" could grab a spot on the medal podium this weekend. After a slow start two weeks ago, Universal's Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts political comedy performed strongly in its second round and has earned $42 million to date.
A few early awards-season favorites will expand, including Fox Searchlight's fifth-ranked "Juno," almost doubling its theater count to about 1,900 venues. Some see "Juno" as this year's "Little Miss Sunshine," the studio's 2006 overachiever. The teen comedy has earned $31.5 million after four weekends.
Focus Features' "Atonement" could return to the top 10 after doubling its theater count to about 600 runs. The studio has held off scheduling an even bigger expansion for the period drama to allow publicity about the film's leading seven Golden Globes nominations to circulate.