Dec. 13, 2004
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"Ocean's Twelve" Heists Box Office

by Bridget Byrne
Dec 12, 2004, 1:45 PM PT

Ocean's Twelve flat-out soaked the competiton.

George Clooney's and his abettors heisted a whopping $40.8 million over the weekend, according to preliminary studio estimates Sunday.

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Watertight in the face of lukewarm reviews Ocean's Twelve, which adds Catherine Zeta-Jones to a star-studded mix that already included, among others, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon, the PG-13 Warners release scored as the fourth highest grossing December opening ever--topped only by The Lord of the Rings troika.

Swamping screens at 3,290 locations, Ocean's averaged $12,426 per site. Its haul was slightly lower than some box-office analysts had expected but still better than Ocean's Eleven, which set sail in 2001 with $38.1 million and eventually grossed $183.4 million domestically. However, ticket prices are a little higher than back in 2001 so fewer customers checked in this time around.

With audiences swept up by Ocean's, there was little left for Blade: Trinity. For the franchise's third outing, Wesley Snipes and vampire-slaying cohorts only managed to slash up $16.1 million in second place.

What filmmakers promise is the final entry in the comic book-based saga, the R-rated New Line release, which adds eye candy Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds to aid Blade, checked into 2,912 sites, where it averaged $5,537. The film's opening gross didn't match the first Blade, which debuted with $17 million in 1998 and went on to earn $70 million, and only did half the business of Blade 2, which opened in 2002 with $32.5 million on its way to $81.5 million.

The one-two punch of the newcomers knocked Nicolas Cage's National Treasure down to third place after three weeks at number one. But the PG Disney hit only dropped 41 percent to $9.9 million on a $3,115 average at 3,203 locations. The surprise hit's booty now stands at $124.2 million.

Meanwhile, another Disney-backed entry, the indie, the Bill Murray seafaring comedy The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, hooked a huge $57,000 per screen. The R-rated film, costarring Cate Blanchett and Owen Wilson and helmed by Wes Anderson, earned $114,000 from its Los Angeles and New York locations and clearly whetted audience appetite for its wider exposure on Christmas Day.

Also doing well in limited release was Born into Brothels, a documentary about prostitutes' children in Calcutta that was an audience favorite at Sundance and was just voted Best Documentary by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The ThinkFilm release unspooled at just one site, where it earned a solid $11,165.

The overall gross for the wide-release films was $102.8 million, up 30 percent over last weekend and 28 percent higher than this time last year.

Here's a rundown of the top 10 films based on estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations; final figures are due Monday:

1. Ocean's Twelve, $40.8 million
2. Blade: Trinity, $16.1 million
3. National Treasure, $9.9 million
4. The Polar Express, $9.7 million
5. Christmas with the Kranks, $7.6 million
6. The Incredibles, $5 million
7. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, $4.3 million
8. Closer, $3.7 million
9. Finding Neverland, $1.6 million
10. Alexander, $1.4 million

 Related Links
News: Clooney clobbered by Ocean's curse?
Megaplex: Inside dish on Hollywood's hottest flicks
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