Rank Title Weekend Gross Total Gross Weeks in Release
1 Borat $26,375,000 $26,375,000 1
2 Santa Clause 3 $20,000,000 $20,000,000 1
3 Flushed Away $19,100,000 $19,100,000 1
4 Saw III $15,500,000 $60,077,000 2
5 The Departed $8,000,000 $102,282,000 5
6 The Prestige $7,784,000 $39,414,000 3
7 Flags of our Fathers $4,500,000 $26,631,000 3
8 Man of the Year $3,821,000 $34,004,000 4
9 Open Season $3,100,000 $81,386,000 6
10 The Queen $3,010,000 $10,087,000 6

Sometimes you get lucky. In hindsight, Fox’s decision to open Borat on just 800 or so screens is a brilliant move – the core audience saw the movie this weekend in packed theaters, the kind of moviegoing experience that translates into serious Monday morning buzz. Add to that the inevitable angle of news stories – “Borat’s a phenomenon!” – and you have a movie that should carry over into week 2 nicely, even after doubling its screens (although I would expect a dip in gross next weekend anyway). This strategy has set Borat up to be a film with major legs, a movie that’s probably going to play through the rest of the year and now seems quite likely to bring in 100 million plus, a nice investment on the 18 million the film cost. Meanwhile, Universal, who just bought Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen’s next film, Bruno, for 42 mil, has to be very happy.

Two kiddie pics battle it out for the number two slot, and somehow Tim Allen’s shitfest Santa Clause 3: Cynical Attempt to Keep Raking in the Dough, but Did You Realize That Juliet From Lost is in This, You Know, the Girl Who Had the Hot Chain Link Fence Sex Scene With Angelina Jolie In Gia? came out on top of Flushed Away, the new film from Aardman, the folks behind Wallace and Gromit. I guess that Dreamworks thought they could nail Tim Allen, but in hindsight they should have opened the picture on any other weekend – especially now that Warner Bros’ apparent CGI juggernaut Happy Feet is pending.

The Departed continues to perform, perform, perform, even as it loses theaters. Meanwhile Flags of our Fathers gained screens, but it turns out nobody wants to go see Weepy the Injun. The Prestige does OK, but I can’t help but feel that the film is a little bit of a disappointment, and that it cements Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as guys who can’t really open movies on their own (or in concert, I suppose).

Who is still going to see Man of the Year? How does this movie cling to the top ten? Truly one of our great electoral mysteries, but monarchists have it easier as the veddy good The Queen busts into the top ten as a couple of hundred theaters are added. Looking good, Dame Helen Mirren – and I mean that. You were smokin’ at the New York Film Festival Pan’s Labyrinth party. Grrrrowl!

Next week a whole bunch of movies whose screenings I missed open, including Stranger Than Fiction, the new Will Ferrell movie where he discovers he’s a character in a novel. Also opening is A Good Year, the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe movie nobody is talking about. I don’t think any of these will knock Borat off the top of the charts.