Cage, pregnant teen in box office spotlight

Sun Jan 6, 2008 1:33pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nicolas Cage's "National Treasure" sequel was the top draw at North American movie theaters for a third consecutive weekend, while a pregnant schoolgirl delivered another healthy box-office bundle.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" earned $20.2 million in the three days beginning January 4, taking its three-week total to $171 million. The Walt Disney Co adventure is a day or two away from surpassing the $173 million total of 2004's "National Treasure" to become the biggest film of Cage's career. Internationally, the sequel has earned $100.6 million.

Three films vied for the No. 2 position, with Will Smith's sci-fi thriller "I Am Legend" ($16.4 million) narrowly beating the teen comedy "Juno" ($16.2 million) and the kiddie smash "Alvin and the Chipmunks ($16.0 million). Rankings could change when final data are issued on Monday.

Awards-season favorite "Juno" was up two places after accelerating its rollout across North America. Director Jason Reitman's acclaimed comedy stars Canadian actress Ellen Page as a pregnant teen who decides to place her baby for adoption. The Fox Searchlight Pictures release has earned $52 million after five weeks, having cost less than $10 million to make.

It almost doubled its theater count to 1,925 theaters -- a figure dwarfed by the 3,400-plus totals for the other movies in the top four -- and will expand to about 2,200 theaters next weekend, said Peter Rice, president of the News Corp-owned studio.


"Juno" will compete for six prizes on Monday at the Critics Choice Awards, a key barometer of Oscar success. In the event's 12 years, half of the best picture and acting winners have gone on to take the Oscar gold, along with three-quarters of the directing winners. Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" leads the Critics Choice contenders with seven nominations.

Former box-office champ "I Am Legend" was up one spot from last week and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" down two. Their respective hauls rose to $228.7 million and $176.7 million, after four weeks each.   Continued...