A Sweet Weekend for Charlie and Harry

Despite some mixed reviews, Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, took in a sweet $55.4 million over the weekend, putting a big fat smile on the faces of Warner Bros. execs. New Line’s Vince Vaugn-Owen Wilson comedy, Wedding Crashers, also did well with an estimated $32.2 million in domestic ticket sales.

Charlie’s opening is the best for a PG-rated feature released in July, and it’s also the best opening for a Johnny Depp feature (surpassing the healthy numbers for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003).

Based on the classic book by Raold Dahl, Charlie showcases a dazzling array of visual effects courtesy of Cinesite (Europe), Digital Domain, Framestore CFC, Neal Scanlan Studio and The Moving Picture Company. The vfx-laden feature set another impressive record this weekend: It also marked the best IMAX debut with $2.2 million over its three-day release period, beating out last October’s The Polar Express which clocked in with $2.1 million.

Meanwhile, the Marvel superheroes of Fantastic Four had to deal with a 59% drop in their second weekend as the feature grossed over $22.7 million. Nevertheless, don’t shed any tears for the fab foursome, since the movie’s total take has already passed the $100.1 million benchmark. Rounding out the top five were Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds with $15 million in ticket sales ($192.2 million grand total cume ) and Warner Bros.’ Batman Begins with $5.6. million ($182.7 million since release date).

This season’s popular CG-animated animals of DreamWorks’ Madagascar aren’t showing any signs of screening fatigue either. Holding to the No. 10 spot at the box-office, the film took in $2.1 million, bringing its eight-week total to a beast-worthy $183.8 million.

And in case your head isn’t reeling with all these numbers, how about J.K. Rowling and her small book about the boy wizard which came out at 12:01 Saturday morning? Well, Scholastic reports that the sixth book of the series sold a whopping 6.9 million copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in its first 24 hours of release. Which goes to show that you can never underestimate Muggles’ appetite for magic.