“Chicken Little” remained No. 1 in the pecking order, taking in $32 million in its second weekend to beat back a flock of new movies.
Debuting in second place was the sci-fi fantasy “Zathura: A Space Adventure,” which grossed $14 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Jennifer Aniston’s first post-“Friends” film — the thriller “Derailed,” co-starring Clive Owen — opened in third with $12.8 million.
Rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s semi-autobiographical drama “Get Rich or Die Tryin”’ premiered at No. 4 with $12.5 million, though it played in fewer theaters than its competitors. The movie has grossed $18.2 million since opening Wednesday.
Also debuting in the top 10 was Keira Knightley’s “Pride & Prejudice,” a new take on Jane Austen’s 19th century classic of romance and class conflict. The film came in at No. 10 with $2.8 million while playing in just 215 theaters, compared to 3,223 for “Zathura,” 2,441 for “Derailed” and 1,652 for “Get Rich or Die Tryin”’.
The overall box office was down, with the top 12 movies grossing $114.7 million, off 15 percent from the same weekend last year, when “The Incredibles” was No. 1 with $50.3 million.
Movie admissions are running 8 percent behind last year’s, but the industry will get a big bump Friday with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth film about the boy wizard.
“This is one of those save-the-day kinds of movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “There were lines around the block for the latest book, “‘The Half-Blood Prince.’ I expect no different for this ‘Harry Potter’ movie.”
With $80.8 million domestically in 10 days, the cartoon tale “Chicken Little” should soar past the $100 million mark by this coming weekend. That’s good news for distributor Disney, whose recent animated slate has been lackluster.
“You can’t crow about things if people aren’t buying tickets to your movies,” said Chuck Viane, Disney head of distribution. “This proves that our animation team, with their commitment and resilience, can deliver.”
“Zathura,” adapted from the children’s book, follows the adventures of two brothers hurled into space by a mysterious board game. Distributor Sony hopes “Zathura” can hang on to a good share of the family audience through Thanksgiving, despite “Chicken Little” and “Harry Potter.”
“History proves there’s room for several of these family-type films. This is the perfect time of year for it,” said Rory Bruer, Sony head of distribution.
“Derailed” was the first release by the Weinstein Co., formed by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who parted ways with their original company, Disney-owned Miramax. The movie stars Aniston and Owen as business execs whose extramarital fling leads to brutality and extortion by a blackmailer.
The movie’s sexuality and disturbing violence are a new thing for Aniston, who has a goody-goody image.
“She’s done a few things in the R-rated realm, but to see her in a sexy light, not the-girl-next-door-light, and have her fans still show up shows how versatile an actress she is,” said Gary Faber, head of marketing for the Weinstein Co.
“Get Rich or Die Tryin”’ stars 50 Cent as a drug dealer aiming to go straight with a music career.
Blacks accounted for three-fourths of the audience, according to distributor Paramount. The studio’s head of distribution, Wayne Lewellen, said the cachet of director Jim Sheridan could help broaden the audience in subsequent weekends.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.