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Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto' edges 'The Holiday'

David Hinckley
New York Daily News

Mel Gibson rebounded from this summer's firestorm over his anti-Semitic tirade during a drunken driving arrest to score a No.1 box-office hit this weekend with the ultraviolent epic "Apocalypto."

"Apocalypto," spoken entirely in an ancient Mayan dialect, earned $14.2 million - a relatively modest sum that was still enough to push it past the new chick flick "The Holiday" at $13.5 million and the animated penguin-fest "Happy Feet" at $12.7 million.

"Apocalypto," a tale of warring Mayans that featured no prominent actors and was heavily promoted by Disney, gives Gibson back-to-back hits in ancient tongues, following the huge success of "The Passion of the Christ."

There had been speculation that "Apocalypto" might suffer from the aftereffects of Gibson's much-publicized meltdown, for which he has apologized repeatedly.

"The Holiday," with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black, is a sentimental tale of two women searching for romance at Christmas.

"Blood Diamond," an action thriller featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, opened in fifth place with $8.5 million, while the goofy new teen comedy "Unaccompanied Minors" was sixth with $6.2 million.

The top 12 movies of the weekend earned $86.6 million, well below the $115.2 million for the same weekend last year.

Next weekend's openings include "Charlotte's Web," a mostly animated film with Dakota Fanning; the dragon fantasy thriller "Eragon"; and Will Smith in a heartwarming drama, "The Pursuit of Happyness."

The much-anticipated musical "Dreamgirls" is also opening in three cities, including New York.

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

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