You really expect a movie headlined by Will Smith -- the consensus Biggest Movie Star in the World -- to at least break $20 million in its opening weekend. You'd have to go back to 2001's Ali to find one that didn't. Instead, Seven Pounds -- poorly reviewed and marketed to emphasize the central mystery in a way that turned out mystifying -- played second fiddle to Jim Carrey's Yes Man, pulling in $16 million to Yes Man's $18.1 million.

The Seven Pounds result is actually not terribly surprising, even given the Will Smith factor -- the movie is a morose downer, with none of the uplifting, holiday-appropriate draw of 2006's affable The Pursuit of Happyness (another Smith-Gabriele Muccino collaboration), and the people looking for that sort of thing have a lot to choose from this time of year, most of it carrying more cred. I'm a bit more taken aback by Yes Man's relatively weak opening. For a high-concept Jim Carrey comedy, opening a good three weeks after the last big light-hearted offering, $18 million is uninspiring. It's in the same ballpark as Fun with Dick and Jane, opening around the same time three years ago, but that one went up against three other comedies opening the same weekend, and was harder to market. I wonder if Jim Carrey's draw might be waning a bit.



Universal's The Tale of Despereaux didn't do much business despite fairly well-known source material. There's no two ways about it: non-Pixar, non-Dreamworks animated features consistently struggle to take off in a big way. Pixar has its miraculous reputation for quality, and Dreamworks can brand and create franchises like nobody's business. Fox has come close to that level of success with the Ice Age films, but no one else this decade has really figured it out.

The Day the Earth Stood Still suffered from deservingly poor word-of-mouth, and will probably top out around $60-65 million. And Slumdog Millionare, as part of its campaign to steamroll the Oscars, crept into the top 10; it's grossed $12 million to date.

1 - Yes Man (Warner Bros.) - $18.16 ($5,288) - $18.16
2 - Seven Pounds (Sony) - $16.00 ($5,801) - $16.00
3 - The Tale of Despereaux (Universal) - $10.51 ($3,385) - $10.51
4 - The Day the Earth Stood Still (Fox) - $10.15 ($2,851) - $48.63
5 - Four Christmases (Sony) - $7.75 ($2,203) - $100.15
6 - Twilight (Summit) - $5.23 ($1,748) - $158.46
7 - Bolt (Disney) - $4.26 ($1,434) - $95.01
8 - Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) - $3.15 ($5,348) - $12.13
9 - Australia (Fox) - $2.33 ($1,051) - $41.95
10 - Quantum of Solace (Sony) - $2.15 ($1,147) - $161.30

Next weekend: Christmas with Bedtime Stories, Valkyrie, Marley & Me, The Spirit, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The folks at Paramount have their fingers crossed for the $150 million Benjamin Button, but the latest Adam Sandler monstrosity will be tough Holiday competition.