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An impressive debut for ''Stomp the Yard''

Three days into the four-day holiday weekend, the college dance movie ”Stomp the Yard” is on top; meanwhile, ”Dreamgirls” is finally in wide release, but only makes it to No. 4

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Stomp the Yard, Columbus Short, ...
Stomp the Yard: Alfeo Dixon

It’s three-quarters of the way through the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, and by all accounts Stomp the Yard is running away with the box office race. For the first three days of this four-day span, the new college dance flick has emerged an easy No. 1, earning an impressive $22 million for a strong $10,726 per-theater average. It all comes on the strength of a very nice A- CinemaScore review from audiences that were 60 percent women and 59 percent under age 25 — and, as you know, young women are the most coveted viewers in all of movie-marketing-dom.

Now, if you were expecting to read a cheap ”Stomp the Yard stomped out the competition at the box office this weekend!” sort of pun, you won’t find it here. Rather, I should probably go with something along the lines of what my good friend Erica blurted out when she learned of the weekend’s grosses: ”While some were stomping the yard this weekend, EW.com box office savant Joshua Rich was just sticking his foot in his mouth.” She’s referring, of course, to the fact that I underestimated STY‘s might and predicted that it would finish in second place behind Dreamgirls. But, alas, it’s not to be. (And, alas, I’m not sure I like Erica anymore.)

Jennifer Hudson & Co. have managed to earn only $8.1 mil in their first wide-release weekend, and that gross has landed them way down in fourth place, behind the long-legged star-driven hits Night at the Museum (No. 2 with $17.1 mil) and The Pursuit of Happyness (No. 3 with $9.1 mil), and just ahead of solid second-week player Freedom Writers (No. 5 with $7.1 mil). For the record, I still believe that Dreamgirls will win the Golden Globe tomorrow night, and it very well might catch a second wind when the Oscar nominations are announced a week from Tuesday. But with its box office momentum slowing, the time may also be right to start revising my early estimate that the musical could approach the $170.7 mil that Chicago made four years ago. The fabulous Ms. Hudson may be telling you she’s not going, but, well, her movie may be going away a little sooner than expected. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The weekend’s other new releases, meanwhile, are likely to finish under the top five. (And, as my ex-good friend Erica would be quick to tell you, I fumbled these predictions, too. Mea culpa.) Justin Timberlake’s crime drama Alpha Dog (No. 7) has grossed $6.1 mil, and with a lowly B- CinemaScore, its prospects for the rest of the long weekend are far from rosy. Primeval (No. 8) has brought in a paltry $6 mil, and it’s followed not so closely behind by Arthur and the Invisibles (No. 9 with $4.3 mil) and Curse of the Golden Flower (No. 18 with $2 mil).

The lesson here is: If you’re a fan of any of these movies and you want me to start saying nice things about them, you might want to consider heading out to the multiplex and buying a few hundred thousand tickets as soon as you can. There’s still one day left to make a difference. In the meantime, have a great rest-of-the-holiday-weekend, my friends.