The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as fanatical entrepreneur Howard Hughes, ranked No. 3 with $7.6 million, topping all of the Academy Awards contenders still rolling out in relatively limited release. Box office numbers are estimates from Nielsen EDI.
Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 25, and strong box office is one key to the coveted best-picture prize.
But "the curious thing about this year"s Oscar race is that no movie will be at a blockbuster level prior to nomination," says Brandon Gray of BoxOfficeMojo .com. "The Oscar doesn"t always go to the most popular movie, but there"s always some nod to the commercial."