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Potter and Bond have plenty to be thankful for

Times Staff Writer

The boy wizard barely pulled his magic over the suave middle-aged spy this weekend, with “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” bringing in an estimated $32.2 million Friday through Sunday, squeaking ahead of James Bond and “Die Another Day’s” $31 million. However, when Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day are included, “Die Another Day” edged ahead with $46.3 million versus $45.8 million for “Potter.”

Both movies are going strong, with “Die Another Day” bringing in $101.6 million in 10 days and “Harry Potter” running its total to $200.2 million in its third weekend.

Holiday moviegoing was dominated by family pictures such as Disney’s “The Santa Clause 2,” which came in third with $12.3 million for the three days. The Tim Allen comedy has brought in $113.9 million since its release five weeks ago. Disney’s animated Wednesday opener, “Treasure Planet,” landed in the No. 4 position, with an estimated $11.9 million over three days, and a five-day total of $16.5 million. Sony’s animated “Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights” rounded out the top five, grossing $10.1 million Friday to Sunday for a five-day total of $15.1 million.

Other debuts fared less well. Despite major publicity, aggressive marketing and generally decent reviews, Steven Soderbergh’s “Solaris” struggled, coming in at No. 7 with $6.7 million. Since its Wednesday bow, the film has collected an estimated $9.4 million on 2,406 screens. “Wes Craven Presents: They” got off to a less-than-scary start with an estimated $5.7 million over three days for a five-day total of $8 million.

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“Clearly the films already in the marketplace dominated the weekend,” said Paul Derga- rabedian of box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Inc. “None of the newcomers were able to compete.... Thanksgiving weekend is one of the biggest family-going weekends.”

Among the well-performing smaller movies, Friday opener “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” directed by Phillip Noyce, grossed $92,000 on only nine screens. “The Quiet American,” also directed by Noyce, rose 15% from its opening and took in $153,000 over the five-day period. The well-reviewed film has taken in $277,447 in 10 days in an Oscar-qualifying run in only six theaters.

Michael Moore’s bluntly witty examination of gun violence in America, “Bowling for Columbine,” pulled in $1.3 million over the five-day period for a total of $11.9 million in five weeks.

Unlike retail sales, which early reports have shown posting gains over 2001, moviegoing was down slightly from last Thanksgiving. Over the five days, the top 12 movies this year grossed an estimated $196.1 million compared with $199.3 million for last year, down about 1%, according to Exhibitor Relations. “It’s not a record-breaking Thanksgiving weekend,” noted Dergarabedian, who said Thanksgiving 2000 was the best to date, when the top 12 films grossed $245 million over the five days. Family films “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Unbreakable,” “102 Dalmatians” and “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie” dominated that year, said Dergarabedian.

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