Mel Gibson's career avoided the fate of the Mayan civilization over the weekend as his Apocalypto debuted at the top of the box office with an estimated $14.2 million. The film not only overcame the devastating public outcry that was attendant upon Gibson's drunk driving arrest and subsequent anti-Semitic rant, it also overcame mixed reviews from critics and predictions by box office analysts that a film with no recognizable stars and spoken in a foreign language was a certain failure. (New York Observer critic Rex Reed described Apocalypto as "a movie nobody wants to see, featuring hundreds of people nobody has ever heard of, speaking a language nobody can understand.") But if Apocalypto emerged as a solid hit, Blood Diamond, which challenged it for the young male audience, proved to be made of zirconium. To the relief of jewelry-store owners everywhere, the Leonardo Dicaprio starrer about how the diamond trade helped support bloody revolutions in Africa earned just $8.5 million and wound up in fifth place. Debuting in second was the chick-flick comedy The Holiday, which brought in $13.5 million, followed by the fourth week of Warner Bros.' Happy Feet, which took in about $12.7 million to bring its total to $137.7 million. With two new action/adventure films to contend with Sony/MGM's Casino Royale made do with $8.8 million. It has now grossed $128.9 million in four weeks.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Apocalypto, $14.2 million; 2. The Holiday, $13.5 million; 3. Happy Feet, $12.7 million; 4. Casino Royale, $8.8 million; 5. Blood Diamond, $8.5 million; 6. Unaccompanied Minors, $6.2 million; 7. Déjà Vu, $6.1 million; 8. The Nativity Story, $5.6 million; 9. Deck the Halls, $3.9 million; 10. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, $3.3 million.