Beowulf Big at the Box Office

He … is … Beowulf! And he’s taken the Friday box office, clearing $9.7 million after opening wide in 3,153 theaters across the country. The film, which stars motion-captured animated versions of Angelina Jolie, Ray Wise, and Robin Wright Penn, is scheduled to do pretty well over its 3-day weekend debut, if past successes are any indication. “Beowulf’s” bow beat out 2006’s “Monster House”, which opened to $7.4 million in 3,533 screens on its way to making $22.2 over the weekend. The PG-13 “Beowulf” opened in 400 fewer screens and still made $2 million more than “Monster House”, which bodes well for the film’s 3-day estimated weekend haul.

Coming in second and third were “American Gangster” and “Bee Movie”, respectively. This is the second week that the two films have reversed positions at the box office. In a bit of a surprise, the Natalie Portman children’s movie “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” managed a fifth place opening, clearing $2.6 million from 3,164 screens, and losing out to the Christmas comedy “Fred Claus”, which maintained a tight hold on the four spot.

The weekend’s other openers, the Coen Brothers’ crime pic “No Country for Old Men” landed in seventh place with $892,000 from a limited theatrical run of 148 screens. “Love in the Time of Cholera” came in tenth with $635,000 from 852 screens, while Richard Kelly’s much-discussed “Southland Tales” landed completely out of the Top 10 with $37,485 from a meager 63 screens.

Of course, no one will know how these movies will do until they go wide.