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'Marley & Me' remains top dog with $24M weekend

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[January 05, 2009]  LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and their little dog have not lost their box office bite.

The family tale "Marley & Me," starring Aniston and Wilson as owners of an adorably mischievous pooch, took in $24.1 million to finish as the No. 1 movie for a second straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

CivicThe 20th Century Fox flick raised its total to $106.5 million since opening Christmas Day.

With no new wide releases, the weekend shaped up largely like the previous one, with Disney's Adam Sandler comedy "Bedtime Stories" in second place with $20.3 million.

Rounding out the top five again were Paramount's Brad Pitt romantic drama "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with $18.4 million, MGM's Tom Cruise World War II saga "Valkyrie" with $14 million and the Warner Bros. Jim Carrey comedy "Yes Man" with $13.9 million.

In a season loaded with wartime stories, two more Nazi-themed films opened in limited release.

Paramount Vantage's "Defiance" debuted with $121,000 in two theaters for a whopping average of $6,500 a cinema. By comparison, "Marley & Me" averaged $6,862 in 3,505 theaters. "Defiance" stars Daniel Craig in the story of Jewish brothers who form a band of freedom fighters against the Nazis in Eastern Europe.

ThinkFilm's "Good" opened with $9,300 in two theaters, averaging $4,650. The film casts Viggo Mortensen as an upright German academic gradually seduced into the Nazi fold as World War II approaches.


Hollywood finished 2008 with solid returns. Domestic movie revenues totaled $9.63 billion for the year, just shy of the $9.68 billion record set in 2007, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

Factoring in 2008's higher admission prices, the number of tickets sold fell to 1.35 billion, down 4.3 percent from the year before.

That was a solid result given hard economic times, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers.

"The movie industry is totally holding its own in the face of the recession, increased competition from other entertainment options and emerging technologies," Dergarabedian said.

The new year was off to a good start, with the top 12 movies taking in $130.1 million, up 7.4 percent from the same weekend in 2008.

"Marley & Me" remained the pet picture for audiences looking to relax and unwind over the holidays, said 20th Century Fox distribution executive Bert Livingston.

"A picture doesn't stay No. 1 for two weeks without getting great word of mouth," Livingston said. "It's a feel-good movie. That's what people want to see right now."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

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  1. "Marley & Me," $24.1 million.

  2. "Bedtime Stories," $20.3 million.

  3. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," $18.4 million.

  4. "Valkyrie," $14 million.

  5. "Yes Man," $13.9 million.

  6. "Seven Pounds," $10 million.

  7. "The Tale of Despereaux," $7 million.

  8. "Doubt," $5 million.

  9. "The Day the Earth Stood Still," $4.9 million.

  10. "Slumdog Millionaire," $4.8 million.


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Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.

[Associated Press; By DAVID GERMAIN]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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