‘Marley' Still Top Dog With $24M Weekend Box Office

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.

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The 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.

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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 $60,500 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.

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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.

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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