Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan's dueling magician's saga, The Prestige, which features Christian Bale (Batman) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), proved that those two stars don't need to wear tights to grab the top spot at the box office.  With an estimated total of $14.8 million Nolan's period drama won the weekend box office derby with a solid per theater average of nearly $6,500.  Martin Scorsese's The Departed, which is based on the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, dropped only 28% in its third weekend and finished a close second -- with a cumulative now over $77 million The Departed is now clearly the top film of the fall season.


Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers finished in third place with a slightly disappointing total of some $10.2 million.  Eighty percent of the audience for Eastwood's film was over 30, which may indicate a strong performance on DVD, but spells trouble at the box office.  The Grudge 2 tumbled 63%, but was one of three films in the $7 million neighborhood that helped boost the weekend's overall take.  Once again the top 12 films easily topped their counterparts from the 2005 season (for the same weekend), continuing what has been a strong fall season in Tinseltown.


The re-release of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D (see 'The Nightmare Before Christmas Returns'), while limited to just 168 theaters, brought in a very respectable $3.2 million with a whopping $19,535 per theater average.  If the Burton-produced stop motion epic continues this sort of strong performance, it could speed the release of other cult (and/or hugely popular) films in 3-D, and could also stimulate yet another wave of NBX merchandise as new, younger fans discover the 1993 film that defines the 'Goth' style of film design.