December 06, 2004 09:00 AM

National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage, is proving to be just that for its studio, taking the box-office crown for the third straight time this weekend and generating an estimated $110.2 million in 17 days.

In limited release, the sophisticated battle of the sexes, Closer, starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen, opened strong, despite reviews that either loved or hated it.

The new martial-arts epic House of Flying Daggers from director Zhang Yimou (Hero), a strong contender for the foreign-language Oscar, also performed well in limited release.

Part of the reason for the strong continued performance of National Treasure, which is not expected to make anyone’s Top 10 list, is that no new movies opened wide this weekend.

Expect that to change on Friday, however, with the arrival of Ocean’s Twelve, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Roberts.

As for Oliver Stone’s $150 million historical epic Alexander, with Colin Farrell, business was down 65 percent this second weekend, after a weak opening to begin with. North American gross to date stands at a lousy $29.7 million. Definitely not great.

The weekend’s Top 10, according to studio estimates, are as follows:

1. National Treasure, $17.1 million
2. Christmas With the Kranks, $11.7 million
3. The Polar Express, $11 million
4. The Incredibles, $9.2 million
5. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, $7.8 million
6. Closer, $7.7 million
7. Alexander, $4.7 million
8. Finding Neverland, $2.9 million
9. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, $2.8 million
10. Ray, $1.9 million

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