Expectedly, the action-packed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines debuted in the top spot, terminating the competition with a $44 million* haul over the weekend. Since its release July 2, T3's five-day cume is $72.5 million.
The third Terminator installment did much better than its predecessor Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which opened in July 1991 at $31.7 million and set a new record for its star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not had a hit film in years. His previous best opening was Batman & Robin with $42.8 million in 1997, the Associated Press reports.
"The nervousness is gone. Finally the baby's born, and it's in the public's hands," the film's co-producer Andrew Vajna told Reuters. T3 was reportedly budgeted at between $150 million and $175 million.
T3 didn't manage to beat Men in Black II's July 4 record, however, which became the biggest Independence Day opener ever last year with $52.1 million. T3 stands as the fourth biggest Fourth of July opener; the 1997 Men in Black comes in second with $51 million and the 1996 Independence Day takes third with $50.2 million. The 2000 The Perfect Storm rounds out the top five with $41.3 million.
But never underestimate blonde power. The other notable newcomer this weekend was Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, which giggled its way into second place with a total of $22.9 million, and since opening July 2, has seen $39.1 million over a five-day period. The sequel clearly out-pinked the original Legally Blonde, which opened July 2001 at $20.3 million.
The heavenly Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle zoomed in at No. 3 with $14.2 million, while the delightful Finding Nemo kept its head above water in fourth place with $11 million. The mean green The Hulk rounded out the top five with $8.2 million. The other wide release this week, the animated swashbuckler Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas made it to the list at No. 6 with a disappointing $6.8 million.
This Fourth of July weekend's overall take of $126.9 million from its top 12 films couldn't quite surpass last year's record-breaking haul of $139.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
Warner Bros.' R-rated Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines debuted in first place with an ESTIMATED $44 million at 3,504 theaters. Its per theater average of $12,570 was the highest of any film opening wide this week. Since opening last Wednesday, its five-day cume is $72.5 million.
The third installment picks up ten years after John Connor stopped Judgment Day and saved mankind from mass destruction. Now, Skynet is at it again, sending the T-X, the most sophisticated cyborg killing machine, back through time to finish the job. Connor's only hope for survival is to join forces with his former assassin: The Terminator.
Give the girl two snaps! MGM's PG-13 rated Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde opened in the second spot with an ESTIMATED $22.9 million at 3,350 theaters ($6,836 per theater). Since opening July 2, its cume is $39.1 million.
In this sequel, Harvard's fave hot-pink grad goes to Washington to defend animal rights and keep four-legged critters out of the hands of evil cosmetics testers.
Sony Picture's PG-13-rated Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle dropped two places to third in its second week with an ESTIMATED $14.2 million (-62%) at 3,485 theaters (+26 theaters; $4,075 per theater). The sequel, which has the angels using their special talents to keep valuable information from getting into the wrong hands, has made $67.2 million so far.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G-rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo fell a spot to fourth place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $11 million (-21%) at 2,901 theaters (-431 theaters; $3,790 per theater). Its cume is approximately $274.9 million.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 The Hulk fell three notches into fifth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $8.2 million (-56%) at 3,291 theaters (-383 theaters, $2,492 per theater). Its cume is approximately $117 million.
DreamWorks' animated PG-rated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas debuted in a weak sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.8 million at 3,086 theaters ($2,492 per theater). Since opening July 2, it's taken in $10 million.
Inspired by the ancient tales of the Arabian Nights, Sinbad, the most daring and notorious rogue ever to sail the Seven Seas, is faced with his greatest challenge of all--forgoing his self-serving ways to save the life of his best friend.
Fox Searchlight's R-rated sci-fi thriller 28 Days Later dropped a few points in its second week to come in at No. 7 with an ESTIMATED $6 million (-40%) at 1,407 theaters (+147 theaters; $4,314 per theater). With only a $8 million production cost, the contemporary thriller about a fast-spreading virus that causes human rage on the people it infects has more than doubled its investment with a cume of $20.6 million.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13-rated actioner The Italian Job moved down a notch to eighth place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (-22%) at 1,584 theaters (-437 theaters; $2,699 per theater). Its cume is approximately $84 million.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 Bruce Almighty dropped three rungs to No. 9 in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-35%) at 1,929 theaters (-722 theaters; $2,074 per theater). Its cume is approximately $228.7 million.
Universal Pictures' PG-13-rated car culture sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious showed the least improvement this week, diving five spots down to 10th place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-61%) at 1,779 theaters (-1038 theaters; $1,349 per theater). Its cume is approximately $119.3 million.
Focus Features' PG-13 rated mystery Swimming Pool managed to open with a respectable showing of an ESTIMATED $289,964 in 13 theaters, averaging $22,305 per theater. Also opening July 2, its total five-day cume is $375,809.
The story revolves around an uptight British mystery author who takes some time off to stay in the South of France. Her relaxed vacation is interrupted, however, by the arrival a sexually charged young woman, and their growing relationship sets off an increasingly unsettling series of events, including a possible real-life murder.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $126.9 million, up 12 percent from last week's take of $112.5 million but down 8 percent from this weekend last year, when key films grossed $139.1 million.
Last year, Sony's PG-13 rated Men in Black II premiered at the top of the heap with $52.1 million over the three-day weekend, with a five-day total of $87.2 million at 3,557 theaters ($14,661 per theater); Sony's PG-13-rated Mr. Deeds dropped to No. 2 in its second week with $18.4 million at 3,231 theaters ($5,698 per theater), while Buena Vista's PG-rated animated adventure Lilo & Stitch stayed in third in its third week with $12.6 million at 3,222 theaters ($3,922 per theater).