'Chicken' rules roost

By David Germain
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The sky is still falling in Hollywood, even though Chicken Little and the Marines have landed.
The box office tumbled again despite solid weekends for the animated "Chicken Little," which debuted with $40.1 million, and the Desert Storm drama "Jarhead," which opened with $28.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

My bad! Chicken Little causes havoc after mistaking a falling acorn for a piece of the sky in Disney's "Chicken Little." - WALT DISNEY PICTURES / Associated Press

At the box office
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Final figures will be released today.

1. "Chicken Little," $40.1 million.

2. "Jarhead," $28.8 million.

3. "Saw II," $17.2 million.

4. "The Legend of Zorro," $10 million.

5. "Prime," $5.3 million.

6. "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story," $4.8 million.

7. "Good Night, and Good Luck," $3.1 million.

8. "The Weather Man," $2.9 million.

9. "Shopgirl," $2.5 million.

10. "Flightplan," $2.3 million.

The films paced Hollywood to a healthy weekend, with the top 12 movies grossing $121.2 million. Yet that was down 10 percent from the same weekend in 2004, when "The Incredibles" alone premiered with $70.5 million. This year's movie attendance is 8 percent behind last year's.
"Chicken Little" and "Jarhead" each came in about $10 million ahead of industry expectations, a sign audiences are getting into the holiday moviegoing spirit. Upcoming releases include "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "King Kong" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
A strong finish for Hollywood could indicate the recent slump resulted from a weak crop of movies earlier this year, rather than analysts' speculation that audiences were skipping movies in favor of home-entertainment options.

"Chicken Little," with Zach Braff as the voice of the fairy-tale fowl that proclaimed the sky was falling, is Disney's first fully computer-animated movie. It was Disney's second-best animated opening, behind "The Lion King" with $40.9 million.

Still, "Chicken Little" received so-so reviews, with some critics saying it's an undernourished story compared with hits made by Pixar or rival DreamWorks.

Along with Pixar's string of hits, DreamWorks cartoons have opened to bigger numbers, including this year's "Madagascar," which grossed $61 million in its first weekend and went on to a $193.1 million domestic total.

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