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Box Office Breakdown: Book of Secrets a National Hit

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

This holiday weekend introduced a slew of big-ticket features in our cineplexes.  It also brought us a wide cast of former Oscar-winners competing for our theater dollars.  By Monday, , , , , and Oscar-nominee had all made entries into the Top Ten - but it was who wound up striking gold.

earned $45 million, an increase of $10 million over the 2004 original.  This was the second hit for Cage this year, following the critically-panned Ghost Rider.  In addition to having the weekend’s best gross, Secrets also had the best average of any movie over those three days.  Although ‘s fourth place was respectable (especially for a politically-based film these days), its $3760 per screen take clearly set it apart from this week’s champ.  In contrast, earned an $11,184 average for an impressive 10th place finish.

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Box Office Breakdown: Will Smith a Legend in December

I Am Legend

You have to wonder whether is just a wee bit jealous of his friend’s success…

This weekend, not only smashed the box office debut of Cruise’s , he pounded everything in his path.  - the third adaptation of the 1954 Richard Matheson novel - nearly doubled the take of its nearest competitor while breaking the record for a December release.  Legend’s $77 million debut surpassed the bar set by Oscar-winner .  The final installment in the Lords trilogy brought in $72.6 million back in 2003.

Although was far behind in second place, its $44 million weekend was nothing to sneeze at.  The movie not only exceeded most expectations, it downright embarrassed third place finisher, How could anyone possibly explain freaky-looking chipmunks taking down a large polar bear?  The latter film only added another $8.8 million to its total, putting it a smidge closer to its $180 million budget.  (Granted, it has done better overseas.)

But let’s not be fooled by the large numbers at the top of the charts, the weekend’s most notable turnout was made by #11: .  The comedic charmer earned an impressive $35,686 per screen.  Meanwhile, (which opened in 3566 more theaters) averaged only $21,411.  Take that, Fresh Prince!

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‘The Golden Compass’ vs. Religion: An Opinion

Polar Bears = Evil?

We saw this weekend. I’m a guy who loves movies. And as such, I set out Friday night to go see what was supposed to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the holiday season. I saw The Golden Compass despite negative critical response and Catholic protests and without reading any of the three Philip Pullman books off which the film is based. The film was dazzling, imaginative and certainly innovative. After having seen the movie I checked out the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (as well as a few anti-Compass sentiments online) and simply could not believe the garbage I was hearing.

I saw the movie. I watched the fuzzy talking animals. And I tried, with little success, to connect the dots and see how this film was so evil. I tried to pick out the atheistic sentiments. And I tried - really, really tried - to put myself in the Catholic League’s shoes. And honestly - what is the big freakin’ deal?

Ok, I get it - Philip Pullman isn’t exactly going to win “Christian Of The Year.” The allegory within his His Dark Materials trilogy is not exactly what one might call “God friendly.” But why, in a country based on the principals of religious freedom, is this man, this movie, and everyone behind it, being vilified? I’ve read the arguments and I understand what they are saying, but for the life of me (and with all personal religious beliefs set aside),  I can’t understand how this one film is going to be detrimental to society?

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Box Office Breakdown: The Golden Compass Lacks Luster

Golden Compass

A Narnia-esque adaptation partnered with a holiday release date and an A-list cast should have conjured box office magic for .  Surprisingly, this weekend’s release from brought in barely enough money to cover the film’s catering budget.

Compass, based on Philip Pullman’s children’s series His Dark Materials, was and second disappointing collaboration this year (the first being ).  While it was enough for a first place finish, the $25 million debut was hardly impressive given the film’s $180 million price tag.

In other news, holiday flick remained in third place while the critically-panned bumped up two spaces from last week.  Meanwhile, and did well with their very limited releases.

Be looking for the highly-promoted (and ) to enter next week’s charts.

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In Theaters This Weekend (12/7)

The Golden Compass

Here are some possible suggestions for your upcoming weekend:

  • The Golden Compass (PG-13):  starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue (directed by Chris Weitz)
  • Atonement* (R):  starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saorise Ronan (directed by Joe Wright)
  • Billy the Kid* (NR):  (directed by Jennifer Venditti)
  • Dirty Laundry* (PG-13):  starring Loretta Devine, Rockmond Dunbar, Jenifer Lewis (directed by Maurice Jamal)
  • Grace is Gone* (PG-13):  starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Zach Grey (directed by James C. Strouse)

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Catholic League Seeks Boycott of ‘Golden Compass’

The Golden CompassHollywood are as ubiquitous to the city as would-be starlets – they’re everywhere, and they’re constantly being forced upon us moviegoers. One of the latest adaptations to make it to theaters is , based on the novel Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman. It’s set for release Dec. 7, but already there are several groups feeling upset with the movie’s mere existence. Fans of the book are unhappy with the changes, but “unhappy” doesn’t begin to describe what the Catholic Church seems to be feeling.

Starring Nicole Kidman among others, The Golden Compass doesn’t have a lot to do with religion. And many think that’s very, very bad.  The Catholic League, an U.S. organization, is urging Christians not to see the movie, and has said that Pullman is “a noted English atheist.” They’re calling the movie an attempt to “bash Christianity and promote atheism. To kids.”  In the book, the Church plays a central role, part of a weird group that’s determined to discover the nature of sin by experimenting on children. In the movie, however, the Church isn’t referenced…at all. Kidman, who is Catholic, won’t even be part of any film that’s anti-religious.

Reviews of the movie have already been released, many singing Nicole’s praises, but fans of the book are disappointed in the differences.  Don’t worry.  - a very diluted version of Northern Lights - won’t step on any toes.

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