Box-office receipts for The Pursuit of Happyness were the source of happiness for Sony execs over the weekend as the film raked in $27 million in ticket sales, well ahead of expectations. The film, starring Will Smith, became the 13th Sony film to premiere as the No. 1 film at the box office this year, extending a record for the studio. Sony has earned more than $3 billion in worldwide box-office sales this year, divided almost equally between domestic and overseas receipts. Twentieth Century Fox's Eragon finished in second place with $23.5 million, at the high end of analysts' expectations. Most had predicted that it would take the weekend crown. Paramount's live-action version of Charlotte's Web placed third with $12 million. But the two films that battled it out for box-office domination last week -- Mel Gibson's Apocalypto and the Leonardo Dicaprio starrer Blood Diamond, suffered substantial drops, with Apocalypto plunging to sixth place with $7.7 million and Diamond to seventh with $6.3 million. In limited release, Paramount opened Dreamgirls in three theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco ahead of its national release on Christmas. With ticket prices for the advance screenings set at $25, the film earned an astounding $360,000 -- an average of $120,000 per theater. Overall, the box office took in 8.3 percent less than it did a year ago, with the top 12 films earning $112.2 million, according to Media by Numbers.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. The Pursuit of Happyness, $27 million; 2. Eragon, $23.45 million; 3. Charlotte's Web, $12 million; 4. Happy Feet, $8.5 million; 5. The Holiday, $8.2 million; 6. Apocalypto, $7.7 million; 7. Blood Diamond, $6.3 million; 8. Casino Royale, $5.7 million; 9. The Nativity Story, $4.7 million; 10. Unaccompanied Minors, $3.7 million.