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Merry Christmas, Will Smith! Seventy-six million smackeroos for I Am Legend. I kid you not– it was a huge, record-smashing weekend for that movie and for Smith, beyond everyone’s wildest expectations. The studio had only hoped for $50 million, and would have been thrilled just to get that. They are more than thrilled now. I Am Legend was a big, smashing success for Warners.

And merry Christmas to you, too, David Seville! Alvin and the Chipmunks not only did well, they made $45 million dollars!!! Those numbers are incredible, because NO ONE thought that movie would do any business at all. I think a lot of people out there thought this movie was a bad idea and a potential big flop. Instead, it’s another huge hit this weekend. I heard the tracking for the movie had been better than expected.

On to the records that fell. I Am Legend smashed several this weekend. The $76 million take for Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the best December opening EVER, topping ALL The Lord of the Rings movies, King Kong, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King held the old December record at $72.6 million, from 2003. That’s over, now. I Am Legend also set the Friday record for December at $30.1 mil, and the Saturday record for December at $28.8 mil.

This was also the biggest open ever for a Will Smith movie, topping I, Robot’s $62 million. The best quote I read was reported on the AP wires with Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers, delivering this memorable line: “It’s no wonder Will Smith feels so lonely. Everyone else on Earth is in the movie theater.”

By the way, my own predictions once again went up in smoke. So much for my “late-night TV promotion” theory about how bad weather would hurt business, or how the Writers Strike would hurt business. Will Smith didn’t need any promotion from these late-night talk shows, and Alvin and the Chipmunks didn’t need it, either. The movie theaters were jammed, even in these places getting cold temperatures. Business this week was up 39 per cent from the same period a year ago, thanks entirely to the big business from I Am Legend and Alvin. Those two together made a combined $121.5 million dollars this weekend!

I knew my predictions were in trouble the moment I walked into the theater Friday to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. The place was packed with kids and teenagers. Apparently these silly creatures still have a lot of fans. We’ll get a sequel for sure, now, where we’ll see the Chipmunks get girlfriends. Just like on their freaking Saturday morning show! In fact, these three dudes Alvin, Simon and Theodore may yet get another television cartoon show out of this.

By the way, the movie really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. The filmmakers didn’t ruin these characters or turn these Chipmunks into punks, and they remembered the Chipmunks’ history and put in some of their classic songs. But I thought the flick could have been a lot better — it was very average to me. I think they really missed an opportunity to make a great true-story type of movie chronicling the Chipmunks and their rise to fame — sort of like these Elvis documentaries or something like that. (Keep in mind, these silly creatures really did have a number one Christmas Song record. They didn’t make that storyline up for the movie. I’m sure people watching that movie will find that one hard to believe, too.)

I notice that business for a lot of the other movies in the top 10 was not that good, though. The Golden Compass took a 65 per cent dive, for example, down to $9 mil. And a take of $1.8 mil was all it took for Atonement to make it into the Top Ten in the limited number of theaters it was in (117 to be exact). So it was sort of feast or famine at the theaters this weekend.

Here are the weekend totals, courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Release Studio Estimate
I Am Legend $76,535,000
Alvin and the Chipmunks $45,000,000
The Golden Compass $9,025,000
Enchanted $6,004,000
No Country for Old Men $3,000,000
The Perfect Holiday $2,552,000
Fred Claus $2,305,000
This Christmas $2,300,000
Atonement $1,853,000
August Rush $1,785,000

Anyway, that should do it for now. We’ll see you later this week for more of the REJECT REPORT!


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