Bee Movie stung the competition, topping the U.S. box office in its second weekend. The DreamWorks-Paramount production, which had debuted behind Denzel Washington's crime saga American Gangster, pulled in $26 million over the weekend.
Studio estimates on November 11 had Jerry Seinfeld's animated comedy totalling $72.2 million in total receipts. American Gangster ran a strong second with $24.3 million, raising its two-week total to $80.7 million. "We don't often see a movie start out in the number 2 position then move up to number one," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "It just shows how strong the word of mouth is on this movie and that families are really enjoying it."
While adult audiences helped American Gangster leap to an early lead on Friday, weekend matinee crowds helped Bee Movie take the victory. It's also positioned well for the November 22 Thanksgiving holiday, when children will be out of school.
Two well-publicized new movies had to settle for supporting roles: Vince Vaughan's Christmas comedy Fred Claus opened in third place with $19.2 million, while the political thriller Lions For Lambs, starring Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, and Meryl Streep, premiered in fourth place with $6.7 million.
Directed by Redford, it was the first release on MGM's rejuvenated United Artists banner since Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner took it over last year.
MGM head of distribution Clark Woods said "older audiences don't necessarily come out the first weekend, so we're looking at a very solid run all the way through the Thanksgiving holiday." MGM research indicated just over two-thirds of the audience was 35 or older.
Joel and Ethan Coen's crime thriller No Country For Old Men leapt out of the gate in limited release, taking in $1.2 million in just 28 theaters, for an average of $42,929 per cinema.
One of the year's most acclaimed features, the Miramax release stars Tommy Lee Jones as a weary Texas sheriff, Javier Bardem as a ruthless killer, and Josh Brolin as a man on the run after making off with $2 million from a botched drug deal.