Legend, indeed! Warner Bros.' Will Smith starrer I Am Legend became the highest grossing December picture of all time, says Variety, with an estimated opening haul of $76.5 million from - while Twentieth Century Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks left its critics in the dust, debuting at an estimated $45 million.
Solidifying Smith's status as one of the world's most bankable stars, Legend is the new lord and master of the Christmas timeframe, beating out previous record-holder The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which opened to $72.6 million in December 2003.
Alvin, showing strength across all age groups despite less-than-warm reviews (the New York Post's Lou Lumenick wrote that is was like "being hit over the head with a mallet every 10 seconds for 90 minutes"), enjoyed the second-highest December opening ever for a film rated G or PG, after Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which opened to $65.5 million in 2005. Alvin is the eighth highest-grossing December film ever.
Early estimates had the weekend up as much as 37 percent over the same period last year, when the Smith's drama Pursuit of Happyness opened to $26.5 million.
Celine closes 5-year Vegas run
After five years and 717 shows, Celine Dion called it a wrap as 100,000 rose petals showered the stage of her 4,100-seat Caesars Palace arena in Las Vegas. While adoring fans stood and cheered through Saturday night's performance, she interspersed songs with emotional monologues about how she almost backed out in 2000 when, at 39, she became pregnant and "had a life for the first time."
But, she said, her husband-manager, Rene Angelil, told her that too much money and too many people were involved. Not only would the Colosseum cost $95 million to build, her initial three-year, $100 million contract broke records for a live entertainer.
Since opening in March 2003, Dion's show, A New Day . . . grossed more than $400 million and was seen by nearly three million fans. Tickets for the final show were for sale on eBay for as much as $1,899.
Dion now starts preparing for a Valentine's Day tour launch in South Africa, while Bette Midler's "The Showgirl Must Go On" prepares to take over at Caesar's on Feb. 20.
Mack and Mary
Rep. Mary Bono (R. Calif.), who was married to singer-turned-politician Sonny Bono and replaced him in Congress after he died in a skiing accident, has married Rep. Connie Mack (R., Fla.) in a private ceremony in Asheville, N.C., her sister told the Associated Press.
Bono, 45, replaced her late husband in Congress in a special election in 1998. Mack, 40 and divorced, is the son of the Florida senator of the same name and great-grandson of Hall of Fame baseball manager of the same name.