'Hellboy' walks tall with $23.5 million debut

Monday, April 5, 2004

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- A wisecracking demon from hell took down The Rock for the weekend's box-office title.

"Hellboy," starring Ron Perlman as the comic-book superhero, debuted as the top flick with $23.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The Rock's "Walking Tall," a remake of the 1973 vigilante-justice tale, opened in second place with $15.3 million.

"Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" fell to No. 3 with $15.1 million, lifting its 10-day total to $50 million.

The weekend's other new wide releases followed: Disney's animated cow tale "Home on the Range" at No. 4 with $14 million and Julia Stiles' love story "The Prince and Me" at No. 5 with $10 million.

The overall box office rose for the sixth-straight weekend. The top 12 movies took in $114.5 million, up 40 percent from the same weekend last year.

That string of up weekends began with the blockbuster debut of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ, which continued to hold strongly. "The Passion" came in sixth with $9.9 million, raising its total to $330.1 million.

Distributor Newmarket Films expanded "The Passion" to 3,408 theaters, up about 200, in anticipation of a solid run through Easter next Sunday.

A cult attraction compared to better-known comic books such as "Spider-Man" and "X-Men," "Hellboy" managed to draw a broad audience with its mix of dark humor and nonstop action.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

1. "Hellboy," $23.5 million.

2. "Walking Tall," $15.3 million.

3. "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," $15.1 million.

4. "Home on the Range," $14 million.

5. "The Prince and Me," $10 million.

6. "The Passion of the Christ," $9.9 million.

7. "The Ladykillers," $7 million.

8. "Jersey Girl," $5.1 million.

9. "Dawn of the Dead," $4.4 million.

10. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," $3.6 million.

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