Critics weren't given a chance to see it before it opened this weekend, but Epic Movie managed to beat out a slew of Oscar nominees and leggy holdovers to lead the box office with an estimated $19.5 million in ticket sales. "The marketing department made great [TV and Internet] spots and the young people came," Bert Livingston, senior vice president of distribution at Fox, told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. But the weekend reviews were as awful as the studio had evidently expected. Jason Anderson in the Toronto Globe and Mail suggested that Epic Movie might be "part of a diabolical, Manchurian Candidate-like plot to stunt the intellectual development of American adolescents so that they're sure to vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2016 presidential election. (For Canadians, it'll be Howie Mandel.)" And despite the fact that it also took a beating from many critics, Smokin' Aces debuted in second place with a solid $14.26 million. "It's a very edgy, R-rated, hip and cool movie. It doesn't surprise me," Media By Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. A third newcomer, the chick flick Catch and Release caught $8 million in its release, while a fourth freshman, Blood and Chocolate, bled (or melted) to death with just $2.1 million and failed even to make the top ten. Meanwhile, Fox's Night at the Museum remained a strong contender in its sixth week as it nabbed $9.6 million to up its total to $216.7 million. Overall, the box office was down about 8 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Epic Movie, $19.2 million; 2. Smokin' Aces, $14.3 million; 3. Night at the Museum, $9.5 million; 4. Catch and Release, $8 million; 5. Stomp the Yard, $7.8 million; 6. Dreamgirls, $6.6 million; 7. The Pursuit of Happyness, $5 million; 8. Pan's Labyrinth, $4.5 million; 9. The Queen, $4 million; 10. The Hitcher, $3.6 million.