A close finish at the US box office

When the studios release their box office figures for the weekend every Sunday evening, there’s always just the slightest hint of mathematical manipulation going on as the distributors jockey for the top positions in the chart.

But it rarely comes down to such a close contest as this – with dance drama Stomp The Yard currently laying claim to the number one spot with $13.3 million, only to have the Christmas/New Year champ nipping at its heels in second, as Night At The Museum reports $13 million. By the time Monday night (well, Tuesday morning, our time) rolls around, we will have a clear winner, with one of the films standing triumphant over the bruised form of its opponent. But for now Stomp appears to have a slight lead…

Bubbling under at three we find Dreamgirls continuing to find success as it expands its release schedule, though a boost of just one place means that the Golden Globes awards glory hasn’t exactly sent it skyrocketing into US cinemagoers’ must-see lists. Still, that was enough to beat out the week’s one new film, the distinctly dodgy remake of The Hitcher. The latest product of Michael Bay’s retooling facility, the Sean Bean-starring wannabe horror only managed a poor $8.2 million opening.

In fifth, down from third, we find The Pursuit Of Happyness, with Will Smith earning $6.7 million and boosting its running total to $146.5 million. Sixth place is Freedom Writers, which spends another week languishing in the middle of the charts, and made $5.5 million. Rising into the top ten for the first time at seventh is Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. The film, which is only in 609 cinemas compared to the 1,200-plus screens of everyone else in the charts, continues to do well, though it has taken just $10 million so far.

Eighth is The Queen, adding $3.7 million to a royal total of $35 million, which keeps it ahead of Children of Men at ninth. Finally, in 10th place there’s Arthur And The Invisibles, which hasn’t exactly captured the animation market in the US (despite success in its native France), and must be content with $9 million so far.

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