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"Meet the Fockers" tops again at box office

January 02, 2005

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Moviegoers embraced the dysfunctional family comedy "Meet the Fockers" for a second straight week as the star-studded sequel earned $42.8 million to retain its No. 1 slot at the weekend box office.

The film, which teams Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman, has grossed more than $163 million during its 12-day run, according to studio estimates.

The film's success could help produce record box office revenue for 2004, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the industry's tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"We've had a much stronger than anticipated final week of the year that helped the industry end on a high note," Dergarabedian said.

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Unofficial figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations showed overall revenue for 2004 topped $9.4 billion, up 1.4 percent from the 2003 total of $9.27 billion.

Official year-end figures, as well as three-day weekend totals, were scheduled to be released Monday.

"Meet the Fockers" set records for the biggest gross on New Year's Eve, with $12.2 million, and on New Year's Day, with $18 million. The previous New Year's Eve record was set in 2000 by "Cast Away" with $8.5 million. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" had held the New Year's Day mark with $12.8 million.

With no new major releases the final weekend of 2004, "Meet the Fockers" crushed the competition, including "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," which finished in second place with $14.7 million, and "The Aviator," which earned $11.2 million for third place.

This weekend's top 12 films grossed an estimated $125.4 million, a 4.3 percent increase compared to $120.1 million for the same weekend last year.

"Meet the Fockers" saw just a 7 percent decline at the box office from its opening week. The film has attracted an older audience interested in seeing De Niro, Hoffman and Streisand, as well as younger fans who like Stiller.

Several movies debuted in limited release, including "A Love Song for Bobby Long," "The Merchant of Venice," "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" and "In Good Company," starring Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson. "Good Company" opened Wednesday and grossed $229,000 on three screens nationwide. It will expand to 1,600 theaters on Jan. 14.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" jumped one spot to ninth place, earning $4.8 million over the three-day period and $16.2 million to date.

Disney's animated hit "The Incredibles" passed the $250 million mark Saturday. It was the fourth-highest grossing film of 2004, according to the studio.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. "Meet the Fockers," $42.8 million.

2. "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," $14.7 million.

3. "The Aviator," $11.2 million.

4. "Fat Albert," $10.7 million.

5. "Ocean's Twelve," $9.2 million.

6. "National Treasure," $7 million.

7. "Spanglish," $6.3 million.

8. "The Polar Express," $5.7 million.

9. "The Phantom of the Opera," $4.8 million.

10."Darkness," $4.5 million.

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