Decent Bow for Despereaux

Universal’s CG-animated family feature The Tale of Despereaux earned an estimated $10.5 million over the weekend to open at No. 3 at the North American box office. Warner Bros.’ Jim Carrey comedy, Yes Man, took the top spot with around $18.1 million, while the Will Smith drama Seven Pounds from Sony finished second with an estimated $16 million. The weekend before Christmas proved fairly slow, but a blitz of new films should lift the spirits of exhibitors around the nation this week.

Based on Kate DiCamillo’s Newberry Award-winning children’s book and animated by Framestore in London, Despereaux benefits somewhat from a built-in audience, and is expected to do well throughout the holiday period, even as six major releases debut on Christmas Day. Among them is Lionsgate’s big-screen adaptation of the classic Will Eisner comic-book series The Spirit.

20th Century Fox’s The Day the Earth Stood Still saw a steep 66% drop in attendance in its second week. The critically dismissed sci-fi remake brought in another $10.1 million (est.), slipping from the No. 1 spot to No. 4. Made for about $80 million, the Keanu Reeves vehicle has taken in roughly $48.6 million domestically and around $87.2 million worldwide. The vfx-driven pic features digital wizardry by Weta Digital, Flash Film Works, Hydraulx, Cinesite, Digital Dimension, Image Engine and Persistence of Vision, among other vendors.

The Warner Bros./New Line comedy Four Christmases rounds out the top five with approximately $7.7 million for the weekend, bringing its four-week total to about $100 million. Two notches down at No. 7 is Disney’s Bolt, which is nearing the $100 million mark itself. The animated action/comedy, which is screening in stereoscopic 3-D in many theaters, took in an estimated $4.2 million over the weekend to raise its 5-week cumulative take to approximately $95 million. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: Escape2 Africa dropped out of the top ten, landing at No. 12 in its seventh week in theaters. The sequel has grossed about $346 million worldwide.