Toronto Star

No Secret what leads box office

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Nicolas Cage may be running out of storage room for his loot.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, with Cage as a history buff on the trail of a lost city of gold, was the No. 1 box office draw for the third straight weekend with $20.2 million (all figures U.S.), according to studio estimates yesterday.

Three other hits crowded behind: Will Smith’s sci-fi smash I Am Legend, teen-pregnancy comedy Juno, followed by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Book of Secrets raised its domestic North American total to $171 million in three weeks, putting it just $2 million shy of the total that 2004’s National Treasure rang up during its entire run.

Juno, featuring a star-making turn from Halifax native Ellen Page as a whip-smart pregnant teen, has emerged as an independen­t film sensation, grabbing critical praise and building momentum as Hollywood’s awards season progresses.

“It’s the coolest little success story coming out of 2007,” said Paul Dergarabed­ian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers. “It’s playing like a mini-blockbuste­r right now.”

The film has three nomination­s for next Sunday’s Golden Globes, among them Best Musical or Comedy and an acting honour for Page.

With $52 million already in the bank, Juno is on its way to becoming Fox Searchligh­t’s biggest hit ever, approachin­g Little Miss Sunshine at $59.9 million and Sideways at $71.5 million.

“I think the time of year has had a magnifying effect. All the top 10 lists,” Fox Searchligh­t president Peter Rice said.

“When the press writes that it’s one of the best movies of the year combined with a movie people love, I think those are the defining factors.”

The weekend’s only new wide release, the fright flick One Missed Call, managed to pull in the horror-movie crowd despite universal loathing by critics. Starring Edward Burns and Shannyn Sossamon, it’s a tale of people whose gruesome deaths are preceded by cellphone messages recording their final moments.

The first weekend of 2008 was promising for Hollywood, continuing a holiday box office surge that followed a weak fall season. The top 12 movies took in $123.9 million, up 18.5 per cent from the first weekend of 2007.

Breaking into the top 10 as it expanded to more theatres was the tragic romance Atonement, which leads the Golden Globe field with seven nomination­s.

Below are the weekend’s top 10 movies in U.S. and Canadian theatres, with estimated box office totals in millions U.S. National Treasure I Am Legend Juno Alvin & the Chipmunks One Missed Call Charlie Wilson’s War P.S. I Love You The Water Horse Sweeney Todd Atonement The Associated Press

$20.2

$16.4

$16.2

$16

$13.5

$8.2

$8

$6.3

$5.4

$5.1

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