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Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Marley and Me

Barry Wetcher/ Fox

The dog days of winter are here to stay, apparently.

For the second time, Marley & Me, the Jennifer Aniston-Owen Wilson-Lab love story, finished atop the weekend box office, with a $24.1 million Friday-Sunday gross, per studio estimates compiled today by Exhibitor Relations.

On Saturday, the movie became the 25th 2008 release to cross the $100 million mark overall, and sometime soon it should become Aniston's highest-grossing Jennifer Aniston movie, not counting Bruce Almighty, which was, after all, a Jim Carrey movie.

Tom Cruise's Valkyrie, meanwhile, was one of several star vehicles that held up well as Christmas weekend turned to New Year's weekend.

The wartime thriller ($14 million), Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories ($20.3 million) and Brad Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($18.4 million) each saw ticket sales drop by less than 35 percent.

In their third weekends, Carrey's Yes Man ($13.9 million) and Will Smith's Seven Pounds ($10 million) held up even better.

Drilling down into the numbers:

  • As pointed out by Box Office Mojo, Yes Man is running slightly ahead of the pace of Carrey's last comedy, Fun with Dick and Jane, which cost about $30 million more to produce.
  • As likewise pointed out by Box Office Mojo, Seven Pounds is running nearly $40 million behind the pace of Smith's last drama, The Pursuit of Happyness. (Both movies' reported budgets were the same: $55 million).
  • Vultures will not be circling Cruise after Valkyrie, after all. The movie, which cost a reported $75-$85 million to produce, has grossed about $61 million to date, and should cover its budget from its domestic gross alone, Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock predicted. "It's going to be a mid-sized hit," Bock said today. Domestically speaking, Cruise hasn't had a movie finish in the black since 2005's War of the Worlds.
  • Here lies The Spirit ($3.3 million), down and out of the Top 10 after just one disappointing weekend. Even worse, the movie averaged only $1,303 at each of its 2,509 theaters. Even the deader-than-dead Australia ($1.2 million) managed $1,503 per theater.
  • Debuting at two theaters, Daniel Craig's Defiance ($121,000) was a bigger blockbuster in limited release than his Quantum of Solace was in super-wide release.  The World War II drama's $60,500 per-screen average was, by far, the weekend's biggest.
  • Other limited-release stars: Revolutionary Road ($979,000 at 38 theaters), Last Chance Harvey ($107,000 at six theaters), Gran Torino ($2.8 million at 84 theaters) and The Wrestler ($431,884 at 18 theaters).
  • The cooling Frost/Nixon ($1.4 million at 205 theaters), Milk ($1.9 million at 309 theaters) and The Reader ($1.6 million at 398 theaters) each could use an Oscar-nomination boost about now. 

Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Marley & Me, $24.1 million
  2. Bedtime Stories, $20.3 million
  3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, $18.4 million
  4. Valkyrie, $14 million
  5. Yes Man, $13.9 million
  6. Seven Pounds, $10 million
  7. The Tale of Despereaux, $7 million
  8. Doubt, $5 million
  9. The Day the Earth Stood Still, $4.9 million
  10. Slumdog Millionaire, $4.8 million