DON'T UNDERESTIMATE WILL

It turns out that even the weekend studio estimate for Will Smith's I Am Legend was too low. Official figures released Monday indicated that the post-apocalypse movie earned $77.2 million, not the $76.5 million that had astonished box-office analysts when the estimate was released Sunday. Entertainment writers found it hard to believe that the film, in which Smith delivers virtually a solo performance, outperformed the "cast of thousands" Lord of the Rings films which had previously set December box-office records. Almost as surprising was the $44.3 million taken in by the kids movie Alvin and the Chipmunks, which received nearly universally bad reviews. On the other hand, New Line's The Golden Compass continued to travel south. The $200-million movie earned just $8.8 million in its second week. The figure amounted to twice what most analysts had forecast.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. I Am Legend, Warner Bros., $77,211,321, 1 Wks, (New); 2. Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fox, $44,307,417, (New); 3. The Golden Compass, New Line, $8,8255,49, 2 Wks. ($40,768,661); 4. Enchanted, Disney, $5,533,884, 4 Wks. ($91,801,187); 5. No Country for Old Men, Miramax, $2,827,530, 6 Wks. ($33,390,003); 6. The Perfect Holiday, Yari Film Group, $2,283,360, (New); 7. This Christmas, Sony Screen Gems, $2,260,812, 4 Wks. ($46,004,292); 8. Fred Claus, Warner Bros., $2,22,1438, 6 Wks. ($68,880,722); 9. Atonement, Focus, $1,806,862, 2 Wks. ($2,918,154); 10. August Rush, Warner Bros., $1,765,319, 4 Wks. ($28,045,110).

EPIC DRAMA BEATS LEGEND IN HONG KONG

Peter Chan's 19th century historic epic The Warlords, starring Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro,had a solid opening in China over the weekend, earning $12.2 million on about 1,000 screens, according to Daily Variety. The film even beat Will Smith's I Am Legend in Hong Kong, as it collected $1.11 million versus $977,000 for Legend. (Warlords faced no significant Hollywood competition on the mainland.) The results were particularly surprising since Smith had recently traveled to Hong Kong to promote Legend. The film also took in an additional $2 million in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

ULTIMATUM IS THE ULTIMATE

DVD sales of The Bourne Ultimatum is expected to pass the $100-million mark today (Tuesday) by selling more than 5.5 million units, according to Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The figure exceeds sales of each of the previous two Bourne movies at this stage of their release. The original Bourne Identity sold 3 million; sequel Bourne Supremacy, 5 million.

GUN-TOTING ACTORS KILLED WHILE MAKING MOVIE

Police in Luanda, the capital of Angola, shot and killed two actors filming a robbery scene and wounded two others, the London Daily Telegraph reported. Director Radical Ribeiro said that he had seen the police vehicle racing toward the location scene. "Suddenly it stopped and people appeared on the back and without asking any questions they started shooting at everybody at close range. I don't know how I escaped, I was just two meters away." He said that although the actors were carrying firearms, they had no ammunition, that police had been notified of the filming, and they had received permits to film in the area.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.