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DreamWorks Animation’s action comedy “Monsters vs. Aliens,” which features creatures from 1950s flicks in a showdown with invading extraterrestrials, launched itself into the No. 1 spot with a $58.2 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
It was the biggest debut so far in 2009, topping the $55.2 million first weekend of “Watchmen” in early March.
Opening in second place was Lionsgate’s ghost story “The Haunting in Connecticut” with $23 million in ticket sales.
The previous weekend’s top movie, Summit Entertainment’s apocalyptic thriller “Knowing,” slipped to third with $14.7 million, raising its 10-day total to $46.2 million.
The big opening for “Monsters vs. Aliens” boosted Hollywood revenues after a couple of down weekends.
“Monsters vs. Aliens” was the latest success story for digital 3-D projection. While the 2,080 3-D screens accounted for just 28 percent of the roughly 7,300 on which the movie played, they made up 56 percent of its total box-office haul, said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks Animation.
Tickets for 3-D movies typically cost a few dollars more than the 2-D version.
Thanksgiving weekend movie crowds gobbled up the Reese Witherspoon-Vince Vaughn holiday comedy “Four Christmases,” which premiered at No. 1 with $31.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The film raised its total to $46.7 million since opening Wednesday.
In terms of revenue, it was Hollywood’s second-biggest Thanksgiving period ever. The top 12 movies took in $223.7 million from Wednesday to Sunday, trailing only the $232.2 million haul over 2000.
“Twilight,” which had a huge No. 1 opening the previous weekend, took a steep 62 percent decline from its $69.6 million premiere.
Based on Sunday’s estimates, Disney’s animated “Bolt” had a slight lead on second place with $26.6 million for the weekend, to $26.4 million for “Twilight.”
In San Francisco, Focus Features’ film “Milk,” directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn as slain Supervisor Harvey Milk, set a box-office record at the Castro Theatre. From Wednesday through Friday, the single-screen theater grossed $109,440 on “Milk,” breaking the previous three-day record of $50,584 set in May by “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” according to film promoters Terry Hines and Associates.
The film opened nationally on 36 screens, two of which, the Sundance Kabuki and the Embarcadero, didn’t begin showing the film until Friday. “Milk” opened at No. 10 nationwide with $1.4 million in just 36 theaters. The film had a strong average of $38,375 a cinema, compared with $9,571 in 3,310 theaters for “Four Christmases.”
The weekend’s other new wide release, “Australia,” opened at No. 5 with $14.8 million for the weekend and $20 million since premiering Wednesday.