Lemony Tops Sour Box Office

While Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events may not rival Harry Potter in terms of widespread popularity and box office draw, the kid lit adaptation from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies tapped into the same audience to become the top movie in North America during a lackluster frame. The darkly comic Jim Carey vehicle pulled in an estimated $30.2 million, knocking Warner Bros.’ Oceans Twelve down a peg to No. 2 with around $18.2 million.

Combining elements from the first three books in the popular series by Daniel Handler, A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the misadventures of the Baudelaire children, who are orphaned when their parents are killed in a fire. A distant relative named Count Olaf (Carey) takes them in with the intention of doing away with them and inheriting their fortune.

Directed by Brad Siberling (Casper), the film features visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) under visual effects supervisor Stephan Fangmeier (Master and Commander: The far Side of the World, The Perfect Storm). Read more about ILM’s work on Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events in the forthcoming February issue of Animation Magazine.

The debut of 20th Century Fox’s Flight of the Phoenix turned out to be an unfortunate event in itself. The remake of 1962 Jimmy Stewart film only managed an estimated $5.1 million and an eight-place finish. The survival actioner stars Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi, with visual effects by Rhythm & Hues, Digital Domain, CaféFX and The Farm.

Warner Bros.’ CG holiday heartwarmer, The Polar Express, continues to perform strong, hauling in another $8.5 million to hold onto the No. 4 slot in its sixth week out of the station. The Robert Zemeckis/Tom Hanks collaboration has earned an estimated $123.5 million to date, but still needs to lay some track in order to catch up with the studio’s reported investment of $170 million.

The Polar Express lagged slightly behind the James L. Brooks-directed family dramedy, Spanglish, which opened at No. 3 with an estimated $9 million. Meanwhile, New Line Cinema’s comic book adaptation, Blade: Trinity, bled out 58% in its second week, dropping from No. 2 to No. 5 with around $6.6 million. The vampire actioner starring Wesley Snipes is likely to mark the end of the franchise, but animation fans may want to note that there are rumors of an animated featurette to be included on the DVD.