‘Night at the Museum’ Wins Box Office Battle, No Salvation for ‘Terminator’

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian handily beat Terminator Salvation to lead a decent Memorial Day weekend at the box office. While neither film came close to topping last year’s holiday blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the combined haul from the pair of sequels was comparable to Indy‘s fourth outing.

Smithsonian uncovered a healthy $70.1 million from a mega-wide 4,096 theaters over the Friday-to-Monday holiday frame. The $54.2 million figure from the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period was the largest opening for a live-action family film so far this year and the highest ever for its star, Ben Stiller. This number represents a substantial improvement over the original Night at the Museum, which opened to $42.2 million over the Friday-to-Monday Christmas weekend in 2006. The December release date allowed Night at the Museum to display strong legs finishing with $250.9 million. That total will be hard to match, even with a much heftier opening from Smithsonian, in part, because of direct competition in the weeks ahead from Disney/Pixar’s Up on May 29 and the big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost on June 5. Still, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the family comedy, should be very pleased with the result, which came in above most industry expectations. Smithsonian was able to take advantage of being the first major family film since Monsters Vs. Aliens landed in March.

The news is not quite as rosy for Warner Bros., which continues to see disappointing results from Terminator Salvation. Salvation‘s Friday figure of $14.8 million was a little higher than its Thursday debut, but the sci-fi sequel could not keep its momentum on Saturday as it suffered a 2% drop to $14.5 million. The final figure for the five day extended launch stands at $65.3 million, over $7 million lower than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines‘ first five days despite six years of inflation. The official Friday-to-Monday tally was $51.9 million and $42.6 million from 3,530 theaters Friday-to-Sunday. Even the casting of Christian “Batman” Bale wasn’t enough to reinvigorate the stagnating franchise.

Star Trek posted an impressive hold during its third outing with $22.9 million over the Fri-to-Sun period, a 47% retreat from last weekend. Monday was strong for the reboot, which boosted the four day figure to $29.4 million. Trek  weathered competition from two different fronts. Moviegoers were given another sci-fi option in the form of Terminator Salvation, and, in addition, Smithsonian swiped most of Trek‘s IMAX screens, which have provided a very significant portion of the grosses for Captain Kirk and company. With $191 million in the bank, the Paramount release should complete its journey in the vicinity of $250 million.

Angels & Demons continues to lag far behind its predecessor with a $27.4 million holiday weekend. The $21.7 million figure from Fri-to-Sun was off 53% from its debut compared to 56% for The Da Vinci Code, which opened much stronger. The 11 day bounty for the adult thriller stands at $87.5 million and should finish with around $130 million.

The latest attempt at spoof, Dance Flick, opened with a passable $12.6 million from 2,450 theaters, which includes $2 million from the Monday holiday. The latest from the Wayans clan did not cost too much to make so profitability will still happen, eventually.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine continues to hold admirably since collapsing in its second weekend. The Friday-to-Sunday figure was off 45% and the weekend total including Monday was $9.9 million upping the haul to $165.2 million. $180 million is the target.

In seventh, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past posted the smallest decline among wide releases with a 42% descent. The total climbed to $46.9 million in 25 days. Obsessed was one spot behind with $2.4 million over the four day period upping the cume to an impressive $66.3 million.

Monsters Vs. Aliens took a direct hit from Smithsonian but still hung on for one more weekend in the top ten. The $193.7 million for the DreamWorks Animation is the heftiest of the year so far, although Star Trek will pass it up shortly. The gross will not climb much higher since Up will be taking away most of its digital 3-D screens on Friday. 17 Again captured the final spot in top ten despite dropping 70%. The total for the Zac Efron fantasy comedy is a solid $60.6 million.

On the limited release front, The Brothers Bloom expanded from 4 to 52 theaters and grossed a decent $495,527 raising the total to $618,195. The indie pic will continue to add theaters in the weeks ahead. The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh’s latest arthouse experiment, debuted in 30 specialty theaters and attracted $204,112 from Fri-to-Mon, solid considering it’s already available on pay-per-view. Girlfriend stars adult film star turned Hollywood actress Sasha Grey.

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Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo