The Scorpion King kept its box office crown despite dropping 51 percent to $17.6 million.
Changing Lanes held fast in second place with $9 million. Life Or Something Like It opened third to a not so lively $6.7 million. Jason X scared up $6.5 million to open fourth. Murder by Numbers claimed fifth place with $6.3 million.
With only King really driving the marketplace, key films -- those grossing $500,000 or more -- totaled $76.4 million, up nearly 22 percent from last year's $62.6 million. Business fell by about 22 percent from the previous weekend's $98.1 million.
Looking ahead, distribution executives are anticipating that Columbia's kickoff of Spider-Man this Friday (May 3) will generate huge opening weekend grosses. Most insiders expect an opening of at least $70 million and some are speculating about $80 million in ticket sales for the film's first three days.
Between the current success of Scorpion King, the anticipated strength of Spider-Man and the expected blockbuster launch May 16 of 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, the pre-summer should provide Hollywood with a sizzling start to the traditional summer season.
THE TOP TEN
Universal's PG-13 rated adventure spinoff The Scorpion King in association with World Wrestling Federation Entertainment and Alphaville was number one again in its second week, still flexing its box office muscles with an ESTIMATED $17.57 million (-51%) at 3,449 theaters (+ 5 theaters; $5,095 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.8 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Scorpion's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"To have $60 million in 10 days is something to celebrate," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning.
"I think the (marketing) strategy was right. The opening date was right. And now we'll probably coast, hopefully, to $100 million."
What Universal has established, Rocco added, "is that you can take a film that has high visibility and open it any time of the year and have excellent results. Scorpion King is such a huge success for our studio. It's going to be profitable. We launched a new charismatic star (The Rock). We launched a new release date (mid-April) for this type of event film. It was the launch of a new franchise and it could be done off-season. If this is any indication, the industry is in for a gangbuster summer. There are a lot of high profile films and that's good for the business."
Paramount's R rated road rage drama Changing Lanes held at a steady speed in second place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $9.0 million (-19%) at 2,642 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,407 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.5 million.
Directed by Roger Michell, it stars Ben Affleck and Samuel L Jackson.
"It's (on its way domestically to) $65-70 million, I think," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "It's holding very well. It goes back to (the idea that) when you don't have a lot of product coming into the marketplace, whatever is there gets an opportunity to breathe. We'll see what happens this weekend with Spider-Man. We should be a good alternative to that."
20th Century Fox's opening of Regency Enterprises' PG-13 rated drama Life Or Something Like It was an uneventful third with an ESTIMATED $6.65 million at 2,606 theaters ($2,552 per theater).
Directed by Stephen Herek, it stars Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns.
New Line Cinema's R rated horror genre sequel Jason X
kicked off in fourth place to a solid ESTIMATED $6.5 million at 1,878 theaters ($3,461 per theater).
Directed by Jim Isaac, it stars Kane Hodder.
"It was in the range of our expectations," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning.
Noting that the picture was not an expensive negative, Tuckerman pointed out, "We don't have to do very much to break even."
Asked who the audience was, Tuckerman said, "It's under 25, that's for sure. And I saw with my own eyes the other night, it looks pretty close to being 50-50 between men and women."
Castle Rock Entertainment's Murder by Numbers fell two pegs to fifth place in its second week via Warner Bros. with a quiet ESTIMATED $6.31 million (-32%) at 2,663 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,370 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.3 million.
Directed by Barbet Schroeder, it stars Sandra Bullock.
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated family appeal baseball drama The Rookie slid two bases to place sixth in its fifth week with a still strong ESTIMATED $5.4 million (-16%) at 2,543 theaters (+36 theaters; $2,128 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.6 million.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, it stars Dennis Quaid.
20th Century Fox's PG rated animated feature Ice Age fell one notch to seventh place in its seventh week, still holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $4.63 million (-22%) at 2,594 theaters (-226 theaters; $1,782 per theater). Its cume is approximately $165.4 million, heading for $175 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Chris Wedge, it features the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary.
Columbia's R rated thriller Panic Room slipped three rungs to eighth place in its fifth week, holding okay with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (-30%) at 2,463 theaters (-362 theaters; $1,705 per theater). Its cume is approximately $87.7 million, on its way to $90 million-plus in domestic theaters.
Directed by David Fincher, it stars Jodie Foster.
20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises' PG-13 rated thriller High Crimes dropped one level to ninth place in its fourth week with a calm ESTIMATED $3.01 million (-23%) at 2,060 theaters (-349 theaters; $1,460 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.0 million, heading for $40 million.
Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Columbia's R rated romantic comedy The Sweetest Thing, down three notches in its third week with an unsweetened ESTIMATED $2.9 million (-43%) at 2,124 theaters (-646 theaters; $1,365 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.2 million.
Directed by Roger Kumble, it stars Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Castle Rock Entertainment's R rated thriller The Salton Sea via Warner Bros., making waves at 15 theaters with an ESTIMATED $0.175 million ($11,700 per theater).
Directed by DJ Caruso, it stars Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Doug Hutchison and Peter Sarsgaard.
"We had a good opening with Salton Sea," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "Our number one gross was the Archlight (in Hollywood), which in two days grossed $30,000. The Criterion in Santa Monica grossed $18,300. It's off to a good start and we'll see (where it) goes from here. We're going to add a few more cities on May 10 and some more on May 17."
Sony Pictures Classics' PG-13 skateboarding film Dogtown and Z-Boys kicked off at 20 theaters to an energetic ESTIMATED $0.11 million ($5,263 per theater).
Directed by Stacy Peralta, it is narrated by Sean Penn.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend IFC Films' unrated erotic drama Y Tu Mama Tambien went wider in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $1.0 million (even) at 283 theaters (+42 theaters; $3,525 per theater). Its cume is approximately $7.2 million.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, it stars Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
USA Films' R rated romantic comedy Monsoon Wedding added theaters in its 10th week with a still tempting ESTIMATED $0.79 million (+7%) at 239 theaters (+50 theaters; $3,295 per theater). Its cume is approximately $8.2 million.
Directed by Mira Nair, it was produced by Nair and Caroline Baron.
IFC Films' PG rated romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding expanded in its second week with a bigger and fatter ESTIMATED $0.74 million (+24%) at 141 theaters ($5,265 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.6 million.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Lions Gate Films PG-13 rated comedy thriller The Cat's Meow expanded in its third week to a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.47 million at 135 theaters (+124 theaters; $3,445 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.75 million.
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, it stars Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Edward Herrmann, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Tilly.
Paramount Classics' PG-13 rated romantic comedy The Triumph of Love went wider in its second week with a slow ESTIMATED $82,000 at 46 theaters (+28 theaters; $1,790 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.17 million.
Directed by Clare Peploe, it stars Mira Sorvino, Fiona Shaw, Jay Rodan, Rachael Stirling and Ben Kingsley.
Universal's international division reported Sunday morning that About A Boy opened in first place in the U.K. to a terrific $3.9 million for two days on 433 playdates. The film captured a 34 percent share of the U.K. market, performing 20 percent ahead of the studio's past hit Notting Hill and 22 percent ahead of its current hit Ali G Inda House.
The Scorpion King opened in 23 more countries this weekend. Among the film's early results:
In Germany it opened number one with $1.3 million on 668 playdates its first three days.
In Italy it got off to a strong start opening on Wednesday with a holiday on Thursday. In its first two days, it grossed $443,000 on 230 playdates.
In the Netherlands it opened in first place with $225,000 on 84 playdates.
In Spain it opened to $636,000 on 289 playdates in its first two days.
King was number one in Argentina with $43,000 on 50 playdates. It was first in Brazil with $535,000 on 187 playdates, a 36 percent share of the market. In Mexico it finished first with $920,000 on 303 playdates, also a 36 percent market share.
King also enjoyed success in holdover situations. In Australia, it grossed $650,000 on 191 playdates, down 35% from its opening. It ranked second to the opening of We Were Soldiers with $1.0 million on 195 playdates.
In the U.K., King grossed $1.0 million (-32%) on 407 playdates. It was third in the market, behind About A Boy and Bend it Like Beckham, which grossed $1.3 million (-35%) on 395 playdates.
Ali G Inda House, Universal's latest film from Working Title, was 14th in its sixth week of release in the U.K. Its Friday-Saturday gross was $90,000 on 147 playdates. Its cume after 37 days is $14.3 million.
Forty Days and Forty Nights, which Universal is releasing internationally, opened in Australia last Thursday to an outstanding $600,000 on 150 playdates. It moved up one rung to third place Saturday.
E.T. opened Saturday in Japan to an estimated $395,000. Japan is celebrating its Golden Week holiday, which is expected to have a good effect at the box office.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $76.36 million, up about 21.98 percent from last year when they totaled $62.6 million.
Key films this weekend were down about 22.19 percent from the previous weekend of this year's total of $98.13 million.
Last year, Warner Bros. and Franchise Films' opening week of Driven was first with $12.17 million at 2,905 theaters ($4,191 per theater); and Miramax and Universal's third week of Bridget Jones's Diary was second with $7.53 million at 2,532 theaters ($2,973 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $19.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $26.6 million.