Niagara Gazette

Flicks

April 7, 2008

MOVIES: '21' doubles down to stay on top

LOS ANGELES — The gambling tale “21” kept up its winning streak as it took in $15.1 million to stay on top of the box office for a second-straight weekend, leaving George Clooney’s “Leatherheads” and the family tale “Nim’s Island” to scrimmage for second place.

“Leatherheads” — a 1920s football comedy directed by Clooney, who co-stars with Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski — had a soft opening of $13.5 million, below distributor Universal’s expectations.

20th Century Fox’s “Nim’s Island” was right behind with $13.3 million. The family adventure centers on a bold girl (Abigail Breslin) alone on an island and her e-mail pen pal (Jodie Foster), an obsessive-compulsive, shut-in author.

“Leatherheads” and “Nim’s Island” were so close that their rankings could switch after final weekend numbers are released Monday.

“Leatherheads” is Clooney’s third directing effort, a commercial turn after his acclaimed Edward R. Murrow drama “Good Night, and Good Luck” and the Chuck Barris fantasy thriller “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”

Yet “Leatherheads” earned mixed reviews and mainly drew theatergoers in their 30s and 40s, failing to connect with younger crowds that are the box office’s mainstay, according to Universal.

“I’m disappointed for us, I’m disappointed for George. I think he’s a great guy and think he’s got tons of directing talent,” said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. “I wish I could have that crystal ball and tell you what went wrong.”

He said some parents who might otherwise have gone to see “Leatherheads” may have been tied up taking children to see “Nim’s Island” or the family hit “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”

20th Century Fox, which had been tracking “Nim’s Island” slightly ahead of “Leatherheads,” was pleased with the results of its film, said distribution executive Chris Aronson.

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