''National Treasure'' gets richer | EW.com


''National Treasure'' gets richer

Nicolas Cage sequel is No. 1 again, leading a strong weekend at the box office for holdovers. Meanwhile, ''There Will Be Blood'' makes some noise in limited release

Diane Kruger, Nicolas Cage, ...

(Robert Zuckerman)

On the final weekend of the year, National Treasure: Book of Secrets continued to uncover a bounty of box-office riches, beating out a slew of solid holdovers (I’m talking about you, Alvin and Will Smith) and upstart indies (There Will Be Bloodwhoa!) to finish a strong No. 1 for the second consecutive week.

Nicolas Cage’s family-friendly adventure sequel remained in the top spot by grossing $35.6 mil during the Friday-to-Sunday period. That brought its 10-day sum to an impressive $124 mil, making it the 27th release of 2007 to cross the century mark. For Cage, the blockbuster returns provided a sweet bookend to a comeback year that began with his $115.8 mil smash Ghost Rider. Prior to that, his previous hit release was 2004’s National Treasure, which earned $173 mil domestically — a total that Book of Secrets now seems almost certain to pass. In other words: Get ready for Part 3, people!

As expected, there was still plenty of good cheer left to go around on this post-Christmas weekend, as most releases either gained at the box office or suffered minimal declines — exactly what you’d expect for the middle of a two-week stretch when many Americans have been on vacation. (Indeed, the box office was up a substantial 14.3 percent over the same frame a year ago.) Alvin and the Chipmunks (No. 2) added $30 mil to its surprisingly huge haul, which now totals $142.4 mil. Will Smith’s I Am Legend (No. 3) scared up an additional $27.5 mil to come within a zombie’s bite of the $200 mil mark (it’s got $194.6 mil and counting). Charlie Wilson’s War (No. 4) rounded up $11.8 mil, a 22 percent increase. And after tripling its theater count, independent sensation Juno jumped into the top five with a rockin’ $10.3 mil tally.

Then again, while the holdovers were singing ”Jingle Bells” and “Auld Lang Syne,” the major Christmas Day openers struggled. Alien vs. Predator - Requiem (No. 6) fared best among the yuletide newbies, banking a decent $10.1 mil over the weekend. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep grossed a soft $9.2 mil at No. 7, however, and Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters disappointed with $6.3 mil at No. 11.

Among smaller releases, the Jack Nicholson dramedy The Bucket List averaged a nice $20,188 in 16 theaters, and the Guillermo del Toro-produced Spanish-language thriller The Orphanage scored a solid $12,118 average in 19 venues.

But the big winner was Paul Thomas Anderson’s historical epic There Will Be Blood, which banked a whopping $185,525 in just two theaters in New York and L.A. — a $92,763 average that ranks as one of the best ever. Combine said box office success with all the critical praise being heaped on the movie and its stars, Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano, and There Will Be Blood appears to be moving into awards season with all the force of a gushing oil well. Happy new year, everyone!

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