Big Ape Swings Through the Weekend Box Office

OK, so "King Kong" didn't exactly storm out of the gates following its release last Wednesday, but the lovestruck gorilla enjoyed a rather impressive 3-day weekend all the same. The monkey's mega-movie grabbed just over $50 million over the weekend, giving it a total tally of $66.2 million from over 3,500 screens.

Variety's Ben Fritz sums up the Kong-quest rather nicely: "The big ape is already catching a second wind.

Swinging to a respectable weekend after a weaker-than-expected start on Wednesday, "King Kong" grossed $50.1 million Friday-Sunday; five-day cume was $66.2 million. "King Kong" averaged $14,055 per play at 3,568 locations.

Universal is pinning its hopes on "Kong's" strongest stat: a 40% jump from Friday to Saturday. That's significantly better than any of the "Lord of the Rings" pics, all of which also opened Wednesday a week before Christmas.

"This movie is setting its own pattern," asserted Marc Shmuger, U vice chairman in charge of worldwide marketing and distribution. "It's a new one for those of us in the business and who study it. Who knows where it could go?""

Pulling in at second place, with a pretty impressive $31.1m second weekend, is Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which has now earned $112.5m from the moviegoers. Third place went to the newly-arrived ensemble comedy "The Family Stone," which netted $12.7m from 2,400 theaters.

Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of old pals: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" ($5.9m, $252.5m total) and "Syriana" ($5.4m, $22.3m total).

Next week sees the arrival of five new wide releases: "Fun with Dick and Jane" and "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" on Wednesday, "The Ringer" on Friday, and "Rumor Has It" and "Wolf Creek" on Sunday ... which means there will be a little for something for everyone at the multiplexes.

As always, you can check out a closer look at the weekend numbers by visiting the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

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