I Am Legend shot some much needed seasonal sparkle into the box office with a sensational $76.5m launch that set a new mark for December and gave star Will Smith the biggest opening weekend of his career.

Combined with a strong $45m support act courtesy of Fox's Alvin And The Chipmunks, overall box office for the top 12 titles outstripped the same period last year by 39% and accounted for $153.6m. The number one release this time last year was The Pursuit Of Happyness, which opened on $26.5m and also stars Smith.

Warner Bros' sci-fi horror film is the third big screen adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend after The Last Man On Earth in 1954 and The Omega Man in 1971.

Smith plays a scientist in New York who believes he is the only human survivor of a man-made virus that appears to have wiped out the human race. As he races to reverse the effects of the virus he learns he is not alone.

Alvin And The Chipmunks is based on the 1980s cartoon series. Justin Long and Jason Lee lend their vocal talents.

New Line's The Golden Compass tumbled approximately 65% in its second weekend and added just over $9m for $40.9m, which is way below when studio executives would have hoped to achieve at this stage.

The much anticipated production reportedly cost $180m and executives will hope it picks up momentum as its heads into the holiday season. Thanks to a $90m international running total the worldwide tally stands at $131m.

Buena Vista's Enchanted is fast approaching $100m after four weekends; it ranks fourth on $92.3m after $6m.

Yari Film Group's family film The Perfect Holiday launched in sixth place on $2.9m. No Country For Old Men, released in North America through Miramax, climbed one place to fifth on $3m for $33.6m after six weekends, while Focus Features' Atonement benefited from seven Golden Globe nominations last week as it climbed six places to ninth on $1.9m for $2.9m after two.

Fox Searchlight's comedy Juno climbed six places to 11th on $1.4m for $2.2m after two weekends. Both Juno and Atonement are set to expand over the coming weeks.

Paramount Vantage opened DreamWorks' drama The Kite Runner in limited release and the film grossed $450,970 from 35 theatres, while Sony Pictures Classics opened Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth in six theatres on $27,815.

Next weekend's wide releases are Buena Vista's adventure National Treasure Book Of Secrets starring Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight and Helen Mirren; Fox's action title Aliens Vs Predator - Requiem; DreamWorks-Paramount's Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter; Sony's comedy Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story with John C Reilly; Universal's true-life romp Charlie Wilson's War starring Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julia Roberts; and Warner Bros' romance P.S. I Love You with Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank.

Estimated Top 10 North America Dec 14-16, 2007
Film (Dist)/Int'l dist/Est wkd gross/Est total to date
1 (-) I Am Legend (Warner Bros) WBPI $76.5m -
2 (-) Alvin And The Chipmunks (Fox) Fox Int'l $45m -
3 (1) The Golden Compass (New Line) NLI $9m $40.9m
4 (2) Enchanted (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $6m $92.3m
5 (6) No Country For Old Men (Miramax) Paramount Vantage Int'l $3m $33.6m
6 (-) The Perfect Holiday (Yari Film Group) Syndicate $2.9m $3.6m
7 (4) Fred Claus (Warner Bros) WBPI $2.305m $68.9m
8 (3) This Christmas (Screen Gems) SPRI $2.300m $46m
9 (15) Atonement (Focus Features) UPI $1.9m $2.9m
10 (7) August Rush (Warner Bros) WBPI $1.8m $28.1m