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'Lemony' wedged in first; 'Ocean's' No. 2

Brian Fuson
The Hollywood Reporter
Dec. 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Paramount's "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" debuted with a sweet estimate of $30.2 million to take first place at the boxoffice on the weekend before Christmas. The Jim Carrey starrer, based on the books by Daniel Handler and directed by Brad Silberling, enticed families away from shopping and other holiday festivities to deliver the biggest opening in December for a family-targeted feature.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Ocean's Twelve" was swimming in the second spot with an estimated $18.3 million, down a steep 53 percent in its sophomore frame. The 10-day total for the A-list ensemble sequel, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Matt Damon, is an estimated $68.7 million, a slim $3 million behind "Ocean's Eleven" for the same period.

Sony's "Spanglish," a James L. Brooks-directed comedy-drama starring Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni, debuted in the third spot with a moderate estimate of $9 million, a little below expectations. But on the plus side, most of Brooks' films have tended to have a much higher multiple than the average picture. "As Good as It Gets" opened to $12 million and ended at $147 million - a multiple of 12, where the industry average hovers around three.

20th Century Fox's "Flight of the Phoenix" was the session's only other wide release. But the remake of the 1965 film, starring Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi, never achieved liftoff at the boxoffice as the adventure film opened to a discouraging $5.2 million and eighth place. It was a mostly older, male audience, which gave the film solid marks, according to exit polls.

Warners' enduring "The Polar Express" continues to stay on an admirable track at the boxoffice, dipping a scant 11 percent this weekend while losing nearly 400 theaters in its sixth session. The animated Christmas-themed film placed fourth with an estimated $8.6 million, advancing the cume-to-date to about $123.6 million.

The second weekend for New Line Cinema's "Blade: Trinity" sliced off an estimated $6.6 million, down a sharp 59 percent. The horror-actioner, starring Wesley Snipes, has brought in roughly $35.4 million to date.

Sony's "Closer" moved into wide release this weekend with the addition of 468 theaters, taking the count to 1,090 on its third session. The Mike Nichols-helmed ensemble drama placed ninth with an estimated $3.5 million, taking the cume to $19 million.

Jim Carrey plays the guardian of the three Baudelaire orphans, who rely on their smarts to outwit the cruelly clever count, who is after their fortune in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.


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