Ticket buyers said yes to the debut of Jim Carrey’s new comedy “Yes Man” this weekend, but ticket sales for the week ending December 21 were a bit tepid overall, according to studio estimates.

The film took the number one spot generating $18.2 million, a number considered below projections for Carrey, whose past films have broken box office records. But the numbers reflect the overall economic downturn, as overall ticket sales of some $88 million were almost half of the amount movies generated for the same weekend in 2007. Storms that covered the Northeast and Midwest over the weekend also attributed for some of the poor turnouts.

Superstar Will Smith saw his latest film “Seven Pounds” premiere this weekend in the number two slot with $16 million, but the drama also fell below what analysts predicted. “The Tale of Despereaux,” which features the voice of Matthew Broderick as the animated intrepid mouse, grossed $10.5 million and took third place.

Smaller films with Oscar buzz drew some audiences this weekend. Mickey Rourke’s highly-acclaimed portrayal of “The Wrestler” took in $209,000 from only four theaters for a $52,500 per screen average. The Ron Howard political drama “Frost/Nixon” did $365,000 on 39 screens for a $9,300 screen average. Meryl Streep’s “Doubt” brought in $729,000 on 29 screens for a total to date of $1.4 million, while Kate Winslet’s “The Reader” raked in $100,000 on eight screens. “Slumdog Millionaire” continued its strong run, collecting $3.1 million on 589 screens and lifting its total to $12.1 million.

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Final figures are due today.

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Box Office Grosses
Week Ending December 21, 2008

Rank Title Weekend Total Gross
1 Yes Man (2008) $18.2M $18.2M
2 Seven Pounds (2008) $16M $16M
3 The Tale of Despereaux (2008) $10.5M $10.5M
4 The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) $10.2M $48.6M
5 Four Christmases (2008) $7.75M $100M
6 Twilight (2008/I) $5.23M $158M
7 Bolt (2008) $4.26M $95M
8 Slumdog Millionaire (2008) $3.15M $12.1M
9 Australia (2008) $2.33M $41.9M
10 Quantum of Solace (2008) $2.15M $161M

Source: IMDB.com