The Prestige, a film about rival magicians, put on a magic act of its own over the weekend as it debuted at No. 1 with an estimated $14.8 million, well above analysts' expectations. "I think we surprised a lot of people," Disney's distribution president, Chuck Viane told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. [The film had received mixed reviews, with Jan Stuart in Newsday calling it "demonically entertaining," while Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer remarked that it represented "some clunky cinematic sleight-of-hand." In between those two reactions was A.O. Scott of the New York Times who wrote that it's "a movie generous enough with its showmanship and sleight of hand to quiet the temptation to grumble about its lack of substance."] At the same time, the critically acclaimed Clint Eastwood war drama Flags of Our Fathers, which had been expected to win the box-office competition handily, opened in third place with $10.2 million. Martin Scorsese's crime drama The Departed, held on to second place with about $13.7 million. Two other films had lackluster debuts, 20th Century Fox's Flicka, which opened with $7.7 million, to tie (with The Grudge 2) for fifth place with $7.7 million, and Sony's Marie Antoinette, which premiered in eighth place with $5.3 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. The Prestige, $14.8 million; 2. The Departed, $13.7 million; 3. Flags of Our Fathers, $10.2 million; 4. Open Season, $8 million; 5. Flicka, $7.7 million; 5. (tie) The Grudge 2, $7.7 million; 7. Man of the Year, $7 million; 8. Marie Antoinette, $5.3 million; 9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, $3.9 million; 10. The Marine, $3.7 million.