1. Borat - $26.3M - $26.3M
2. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause - $20M - $20M
3. Flushed Away - $19.1M - $19.1M
4. Saw III - $15.5M - $60M
5. The Departed - $8M - $102.2M
6. The Prestige - $7.7M - $39.4M
7. Flags of Our Fathers - $4.5M - $26.6M
8. Man of the Year . - $3.8M - $34M
9. Open Season - $3.1M - $81.3M
10. The Queen - $3M - $10M
Borat goes against many box office experts by taking the top spot with room to spare. You might not think the total is that impressive but the movie comfortably beat The Santa Clause 3, which was expected to take the top spot, and Flushed Away, which was also expected to perform way better than Borat did. Furthermore, Borat was being shown in just 837 locations compared to the 3000+ locations occupied by both Clause 3 and Flushed Away. The movie had a huge screen/ticket average of over $31,000 and has already topped its production budget by over $12M!
It seems Fox severely underestimated the potential of the movie. It was only announced a few weeks ago that Borat would no longer open on 2000 screens but rather open on the aforementioned 837 and then add screens week by week - this was done because they were worried that middle America simply wouldn't "get it". Sacha Baron Cohen has been hyping the movie (in character) to anyone who will listen to him. Early word of mouth was spectacular and reviews were generally very good indeed. Expect the movie to add at least 1000 screens next weekend and secure a second weekend at the top.
Claus 3 opened down $9M in comparison to Claus 2 which opened four years ago. That movie ended up clearing $139M. It's doubtful that this third part will perform as well and this good but not spectacular showing may well signal the end of the franchise. Tim Allen needed a good hit after the disaster of Zoom and the disappointment of The Shaggy Dog back in March.
The first foray into CGI for Aardman opens with a pretty impressive $19M. Curiously this is said to be the movie that caused Ex-Microsoft guy Paul Allen to dump all his Dreamworks shares. With that opening it's hard to see what he saw in the movie that others didn't. Opening better than both Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, this won't cause Aardman to abandon it's claymation roots but could allow them to use CGI as another outlet for their talents.
Saw III takes the expected 50%+ drop that usually haunts horror movies but seeing how it cost just $10M to make and is currently sitting with $60M in ticket sales in the US alone, there will be no cause for concern. Expect Saw IV to be officially announced within the month.
The Departed crossed the $100M mark this weekend and edges closer to becoming Scorcese's biggest theatrical release. Of his films, only The Aviator has taken more money at the box office.
The well received 'The Prestige' sits just half a million dollars shy of recouping its production budget. The movie has performed pretty much as the studio hoped but one has to wonder if a quieter release date and a wider opening might have benefited the movie more, especially in that first key weekend.
Flags of Our Father struggles on but just can't get a break. It had a poor first weekend and has hasn't been able to find its market as bigger & newer movies slotted in above it. Expect the film to end its domestic run with just $35M. Man of The Year, performing a little better than Flags has, will almost certainly see an exit from the charts come next weekend.
Open Season finally faces some competition in the shape of Flushed Away this weekend. It should recoup its production budget before leaving the charts and Sony can rest easy that their first foray into the now hazardous (not to mention increasingly full) world of CGI movies hasn't fallen flat.
Rounding out the top ten is The Queen, now in its six weekend of limited release and its first in the top ten. For the previous five weeks the movie has been on just 150 screens. This week the movie saw its total rise to just 387 screens, allowing it to crack the top ten. The movie has so far taken $10M.
One other movie to note is Babel, which is showing on just 35 screens yet still managed the second biggest screen/ticket taking of any movie in the top 50. The movie opens wider next week.