A subtitled Mayan adventure with no stars, Apocalypto would have been tough enough sell even if director Mel Gibson hadn't sabotaged his career with drunk, anti-Semitic ravings. And yet, American audiences were more interested in that film than the seasonal romantic comedy The Holiday and the Leonardo DiCaprio message thriller Blood Diamond, making Apocalypto the improbable victor at the box office last weekend. But don't uncork the champagne just yet: At a modest $14.1 million, the film came away with one of the smallest #1 grosses of 2006. As it is, Apocalypto barely outpaced The Holiday's $13.5 million, and the latter film's broad crowd-pleasing appeal could give it more legs over Christmas—provided that people aren't made aware that it's a risible, stomach-turning disaster. Proving that Western Union is always the more effective way to deliver a message—that is, before email and other forms of telecommunication made Western Union telegrams extinct—Blood Diamond took in a paltry $8.5 million, which is barely enough to cover craft services and blowjobs for DiCaprio's entourage. The weekend's other opening, the family comedy Unaccompanied Minors, limped into the field at $6.2 million.
With very little opening in limited release, Volver and The History Boys continued to rule the arthouse circuit with $8500 and $4200 per-screen averages, respectively.
More detailed numbers are available at Box Office Mojo.