Harry, Bond finish neck and neck at the box office -- For the regular three-day weekend, ''Chamber of Secrets'' squeaks ahead to reclaim No. 1 with $32.2 million
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Who was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, James Bond or Harry Potter? That depends on how you look at it.

Over the regular three-day portion of the weekend, ”Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” emerged victorious with $32.2 million, according to studio estimates, reclaiming the top spot after a week at No. 2. But if you factor in grosses from Wednesday and Thursday, ”Die Another Day” actually topped ”Harry” with $46.3 million, compared with ”Chamber of Secrets”’ $45.8 million. Bottom line: It was darn close.

Focusing on the three-day numbers, ”Harry Potter” became the second film to reclaim the No. 1 position this year, after Mel Gibson’s ”Signs” did the same late this summer. Its 24 percent drop from last week can be attributed to Thanksgiving’s tradition of being a family moviegoing holiday. Most impressively, the film crossed the $200 million mark in its 17th day of release, becoming the fifth fastest film to do so, behind ”Spider-Man,” the two recent ”Star Wars” films, and the first ”Harry Potter,” but quicker than ”Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

But James Bond shouldn’t hang his head. Slipping only 34 percent from last week’s debut, ”Die Another Day” earned an additional $31 million this weekend, bringing its 10-day total to $101.6 million (the quickest Bond movie to reach that benchmark).

The third-place film was a huge surprise: Tim Allen’s Christmastime comedy ”The Santa Clause 2” actually moved up a notch with $12.3 million — a 20 percent increase from last week — bringing its total to $113.9 million. Looks like audiences are really getting into the holiday spirit about now. Most shockingly, ”Santa Clause,” which was in its fifth week, outperformed the opening of another Disney film, ”Treasure Planet,” which debuted with a very disappointing $11.9 million, one of the worst Disney animated openings in recent memory. In 2000, ”The Emperor’s New Groove” only managed a $9.8 million debut. And last year’s disastrous ”Final Fantasy” premiered with a similar $11.4 million. The lesson here: Moviegoers simply aren’t interested in sci-fi animated movies, or in even more general terms, cartoons starring humans. By contrast, recent animated hits like ”Shrek,” ”Monsters, Inc.” and ”Lilo & Stitch” featured mostly non-human characters, like animals, ogres, and other critters.

But how embarrassing would it have been for Disney if Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah cartoon, ”Eight Crazy Nights,” had opened better than ”Treasure Planet”? Well, it almost happened. After outperforming ”Planet” on Wednesday and Thursday, Sandler’s potty-humor-filled flick grossed $10.1 million over the weekend, landing in fifth place.

The rest of the weekend’s new releases didn’t fare so well. George Clooney’s sci-fi drama ”Solaris” tanked with only $6.8 million, topped off by a solid F grade across the board from audiences young and old, male and female, according to CinemaScore. Fans enticed by the sight of Clooney’s butt were obviously disappointed to find a slow, cerebral sci-fi film in its place. Meanwhile, Wes Craven’s ”They” debuted with a poor $5.7 million, and the star-free action thriller ”Extreme Ops” earned only $2.3 million. ”Extreme Flops” would have been more like it.

Wes Craven Presents: They
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