Paramount's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events debuted with a sweet estimate of $30.2 million to take first place at the boxoffice on the weekend before Christmas.

The Jim Carrey starrer, based on the books by Daniel Handler and directed by Brad Silberling, enticed families away from shopping and other holiday festivities to deliver the biggest opening in December for a family-targeted feature. Warner Bros. Pictures' Ocean's Twelve was swimming in the second spot with an estimated $18.3 million, down a steep 53% in its sophomore frame. The 10-day total for the A-list ensemble sequel is an estimated $68.7 million, a slim $3 million behind Ocean's Eleven for the same period.

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Sony's Spanglish, a James L. Brooks-directed comedy-drama starring Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni, debuted in the third spot with a moderate estimate of $9 million, a little below expectations.

20th Century Fox's Flight of the Phoenix was the session's only other wide release. But the remake of the 1965 film, starring Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi, never achieved liftoff at the boxoffice as the adventure film opened to a discouraging $5.2 million and eighth place.

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