By Mack Chico
“Marley & Me,” the story of a mischievous dog who grows up alongside the young couple who owns him, made $37 million in sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters, emerging as the top film in one of Hollywood’s most-competitive weekends.
“Bedtime Stories,” starring Adam Sandler, finished second with $28.1 million, box-office tracker Media By Numbers LLC said today in an e-mailed statement. Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” debuted in third place with $27 million.
Christmas ranks among the busiest times for Hollywood studios in terms of new releases, making this holiday weekend among the most competitive, Media By Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian said in an interview.
Second place’s “Bedtime Stories” stars Sandler as a father whose nighttime tales come to life. It will surpass $100 million in sales, which will be the second Sandler film this year to do so, after “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” Pandya said.
“Benjamin Button,” which finished third, is the tale of a man who ages in reverse and is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film has garnered five Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, including best drama and best actor. The Paramount Pictures movie cost about $150 million, according to Internet Movie Database Inc.
Also debuting this week was Tom Cruise in “Valkyrie,” the story of a German officer in World War II who leads a group trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The movie, the second from Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc.’s United Artists studio, opened in fourth place with $21.5 million. The cast includes Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson.
Last weekend’s No. 1 movie, “Yes Man” from Time Warner, slid to fifth with $16.5 million. Jim Carrey plays a man who transforms his humdrum life by saying “yes” at every opportunity for a year. It has made $49.6 million in two weeks of release.
Rounding out the top 10 in sixth through 10th places, respectively, were “Seven Pounds,” from Sony Corp., at $13.4 million; “The Tale of Despereaux” from General Electric Co.’s Universal Pictures with $9.37 million; Fox’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” at $7.9 million; “The Spirit,” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., opened ninth with $6.51 million; and Disney Miramax’s “Doubt” finished in 10th with $5.68 million.
Receipts for the top 12 movies rose 7.6 percent to $182.5 million from the year-earlier period, Los Angeles-based Media By Numbers said. For the year, box-office sales have dropped 0.9 percent to $9.55 billion. Year-to-date attendance has declined 5.3 percent.
The following table has figures provided by studios to Media By Numbers. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales from Dec. 26 and yesterday and estimates for today.