Mutants rule theaters as 'X-men' sequel debuts with $85 million

Monday, May 5, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- The mutants of "X-Men" are stronger than ever, showing even more box office power than in their first outing.

The superhero sequel "X2: X-Men United" debuted with $85.85 million domestically, the fourth-best opening-weekend gross ever and a 58 percent increase over the $54.5 million first weekend of the original "X-Men" three years ago.

Opening in second place was "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," starring Hilary Duff in a big-screen adaptation of her Disney Channel TV series about a young teen coping awkwardly with adolescence. With an audience of mostly young girls, the movie took in a healthy $17 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Receipts for "X2" came in behind the record $114.8 million for "Spider-Man" over the same weekend last year. The first two "Harry Potter" movies had the second and third best openings, $90.3 million for "Sorcerer's Stone" and $88.4 million for "Chamber of Secrets."

Overall, however, Hollywood revenue was down with the top 12 movies grossing $140.8 million, off 7.6 percent compared to the same weekend last year, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"X2" drew about 14.3 million viewers, up 4.2 million from the opening weekend for "X-Men."

Distributor 20th Century Fox blanketed theaters with the sequel, which played in a record 3,741 cinemas, topping the previous high of 3,682 for last year's "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." However, "X2" played on about 1,300 fewer movie screens than the record 8,500 for "Chamber of Secrets."

"X2" reunites director Bryan Singer with his "X-Men" cast, including Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as mutants with superhuman abilities that include telepathy and shape-shifting.

It teams good and bad mutants against a human enemy who has hatched a plan to destroy their race.

In limited release, John Malkovich's directing debut, "The Dancer Upstairs," opened solidly in 13 theaters with $105,300. The film, which expands to more theaters over the next three weekends, stars Javier Bardem as a Latin American policeman tracking a terrorist.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "X2: X-Men United," $85.85 million.

2. "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," $17 million.

3. "Identity," $9.5 million.

4. "Anger Management," $8.5 million.

5. "Holes," $6.5 million.

6. "Malibu's Most Wanted," $4 million.

7. "Confidence," $2.5 million.

8. "It Runs in the Family," $1.55 million.

9. "Bend it Like Beckham," $1.455 million.

10. "Bulletproof Monk," $1.45 million.

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