Dreamgirls musical tops US box office for Christmas

The Paramount Pictures musical Dreamgirls sang and danced its way into theaters in a big way this Christmas.

The film, starring Eddie Murphy and Beyonce Knowles, earned $8.7 million (EUR 6.59 million) on Christmas Day according to studio estimates as it expanded from three locations to 852 theaters across the U.S.

That was good enough to move it into the top 10 grossing films for the four-day holiday weekend, knocking the religious-themed "The Nativity Story" to 11th place.

"The response to the movie has been spectacular," Rob Moore, president and chief operating officer at Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc., said Tuesday.

The studio will release the film to about 2,000 theaters in a few weeks, giving the musical a good financial head start, Moore said.

The film, which also stars Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson, also has dreams of Oscar.

"Dreamgirls is an Oscar contender if ever there was one," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "It's a crowd pleaser."

The Ben Stiller comedy "Night at the Museum" retained its No. 1 standing, pulling in $42.2 million (EUR 32 million) over the holiday weekend, including $12.4 million (EUR 9.4 million) on Christmas Day.

The horror flick "Black Christmas" from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer earned a respectable one-day total of $3.3 million (EUR 2.5 million) on its debut Monday. the AP said.

"There's always an audience that wants to be counter to the norm," Dergarabedian said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Wednesday.

1. "Night at the Museum," $42.2 million (EUR 32 million).

2. "The Pursuit of Happyness," $23.1 million (EUR 17.51 million).

3. "Rocky Balboa," $17 million (EUR 12.89 million).

4. "The Good Shepherd," $13.9 million (EUR 10.54 million).

5. "Charlotte's Web," $9.5 million (EUR 7.2 million).

6. "Eragon," $9.3 million (EUR 7.05 million).

7. "Dreamgirls," $8.9 million (EUR 6.75 million).

8. "We Are Marshall," $8.6 million (EUR 6.52 million).

9. "The Holiday," $7 million (EUR 5.31 million).

10. "Happy Feet," $6.6 million (EUR 5 million)

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