LOS ANGELES, Dec. 26 -- A slew of big-budget movies managed to lure moviegoers into theaters in the United States and Canada during the Christmas holidays despite a sluggish economy and bad weather, showed box office figures released Friday.
"Marley & Me," a comedy from 20th Century Fox, had the largest Christmas Day opening in Hollywood's history with estimated ticket sales of 14.75 million U.S. dollars, according to Los Angeles-based box office tracking firm Media by Numbers.
The previous record was 10.22 million dollars for "Ali," the Will Smith-starring biography of boxing champion Muhammad Ali, set on Christmas Day in 2001.
"These are phenomenal holiday numbers," said Bruce Snyder, president of Fox Distribution, which distributed "Marley & Me."
The film starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston tells the story of a family in the making and a dog named Marley who taught them what really matters in life.
Meanwhile, Paramount's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise's WWII thriller "Valkyrie," also performed much better than expected. The two films are expected to have the second- and third-largest Christmas Day opening grosses of all-time.
A record of five films, including Disney family comedy "Bedtime Stories" and Lionsgate's sci-fi action thriller "The Spirit," opened in wide release in North America Thursday as Hollywood studios tried to woo more audience in this Christmas season amid the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.