According to The Hollywood Reporter, Screen Gems' horror entree Underworld: Evolution sat in the top spot in its debut weekend, far and away from the rest of the boxoffice field, sinking its teeth into a sterling estimate of $27.6 million. The opening for the vampire- and werewolf-filled sequel, which brought back Kate Beckinsale and director Len Wiseman for a second turn, surpassed the $21.8 million debut of the original Underworld. The R-rated Evolution, co-produced with Lakeshore Entertainment, exceeded expectations heading into the frame; most industry observers projected an opening in the $20 million-$25 million range. After a close race between Buena Vista Pictures' Glory Road and the Weinstein Co.'s Hoodwinked during the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday session -- the two films switched places when the final numbers came in last week, with Glory on top and a scant $48,000 separating the two pictures -- it wasn't as close this weekend.

With the absence of broad new rollouts, Buena Vista International's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe went unchallenged for the fifth straight weekend as the No. 1 grosser internationally, yielding an estimated $13.3 million at 7,067 screens and throwing off a cumulative boxoffice of $342.6 million to date.

The weekend was notable for the strong showings of Sony Pictures Releasing International's Fun With Dick & Jane and Memoirs of a Geisha. The latter took second place with a weekend estimate of $10.3 million for an international cume to date of $34 million, while Dick & Jane placed third with an estimated $8.6 million in 31 territories at 2,165 screens. Its cume to date is $28.7 million. Geisha, which is handled by various distributors internationally, finished No. 1 in these markets: Spain, with a weekend estimate of $2.5 million at 208 screens; Singapore, with $550,000 at 36 screens; and in Malaysia, $255,000 at 33 screens. With the Chinese New Year holiday period arriving next week, attendance is likely to pick up sharply for Geisha in Asian markets. BVI reports a Japanese market cume for Geisha of $12 million to date.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.