'Four' Snaps Hollywood Downturn

In this photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox, "The Fantastic Four" are seen from left, The Human Torch (Chris Evans), The Thing (Michael Chiklis), The Invisible Girl (Jessica Alba), and Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Grufford). (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox)
The latest superhero movie may have been just fantastic enough to snap Hollywood's longest modern losing streak at the box office.

The comic-book adaptation "Fantastic Four" raked in $56 million during its first three days, apparently helping to end a swoon in which domestic movie revenues had been down 19 weekends in a row compared to last year's.

The top 12 films took in $141 million, up 2.25 percent from the same weekend in 2004, according to industry estimates Sunday.

Numbers often drop slightly when studios release final figures, but this past weekend still should come in ahead of last year's, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"It took four superheroes to end this slump, and Hollywood is grateful," Dergarabedian said. "Comic book movies, if properly marketed, are exactly what mainstream audiences want to see in their summer movies."

The movie bumped the previous weekend's top film, "War of the Worlds," into second place with $31.3 million. "War of the Worlds" raised its 12-day domestic total to $165.8 million.

"Fantastic Four" far surpassed industry projections of an opening weekend of $40 million or less. 20th Century Fox, which released the film, had expected a debut "in the high 30s," said Bruce Snyder, the studio's head of distribution.

Based on the Marvel Comics series that debuted in the early 1960s, "Fantastic Four" stars Ioan Grufford, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans as astronauts who gain superpowers after exposure to a cosmic storm.

If Sunday's estimate holds, it would come in ahead of the opening weekend of fellow Marvel adaptation "X-Men," which debuted in 2000 with $54.5 million. Marvel's first "Spider-Man"movie had a record opening weekend of $114.8 million in 2002.