Moviegoers gave fits to box-office prognosticators over the weekend, showing up in record numbers for a Christmas holiday and overturning analysts' predictions of which films would prove to be successful and which would fail. While most had forecast that the Adam Sandler family comedy Bedtime Stories would come out on top, it was easily overtaken by Marley and Me. And while the Tom Cruise historical thriller Valkyrie was supposed to flop with less than $10 million in ticket sales, it actually wound up with three times that figure. Even more impressive were the results for films in limited release that are contending for Oscar consideration, with Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino leading the field as it averaged $27,652 in each of 84 theaters in its third week. After two down weeks, the box office tallied $179.58 million for the top 12 films, 5.87 percent ahead of last year.

The top ten films over the weekend/holiday, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date) 1. Marley and Me , 20th Century Fox, $36,357,586/$50,748,566, (New); 2. Bedtime Stories, Disney, $27,450,296/$38,029,113, (New); 3 . The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Paramount, $26,853,816/$38,725,647, (New); 4. Valkyrie , MGM, $21,027,007/$29,520,979, (New); 5. Yes Man, Warner Bros., $16,657,046/$22,587,046, 2 Wks. ($49,798,560); 6. Seven Pounds , Sony, $13,203,236, 2 Wks. ($38,762,647); 7. The Tale of Despereaux, Universal, $8,932,625/$10,903,665, 2 Wks. ($27,448,085); 8. The Day The Earth Stood Still, 20th Century Fox, $7,697,799/$10,466,553, 3 Wks. ($63,480,184); 9 . The Spirit, Lionsgate, $,6,463,278/$10,305,501, (New); 10. Doubt, Miramax, $5,339,742/$6,760,322, 3 Wks. ($8,484,863).

30/12/2008