'Scorpion King' Rules Box Office

Mathyus (THE ROCK), trained in the deadly arts, defends the people against an evil ruler.
"The Scorpion King" and its wrestler star reigned at the box office for a second straight weekend with $17.6 million, but not for long as a much anticipated comic book hero spins his way into theaters.

"Spider-man" opens next weekend and is expected to put an early spin on the summer blockbuster season.

"This is one of the most anticipated movies of the year," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "It's a total summer movie. It's exactly what people want in summer."

"Scorpion King" distributor Universal wisely chose to slip its action flick into the lineup two weeks ahead of "Spider-man." Starring pro wrestler The Rock in a spinoff of "The Mummy" franchise, "The Scorpion King" debuted with $36.1 million last weekend, a record for a film opening in April.

The movie has taken in $60.8 million in its first 10 days.

The thriller "Changing Lanes" held the No. 2 spot for the second straight weekend with $9 million, pushing its 17-day total to $44.6 million.

This weekend's main new films had weak debuts.

The romantic comedy "Life or Something Like It," starring Angelina Jolie as a shallow TV journalist coping with a street soothsayer's prediction that she's about to die, opened in third place with $6.65 million.

Playing in 2,606 theaters, "Life or Something Like It" averaged an anemic $2,552 a cinema, compared with $5,103 in 3,449 theaters for "The Scorpion King." "Jason X" averaged $3,461 in 1,878 theaters.

"Jason X," a sci-fi update of the "Friday the 13th" horror franchise, opened at No. 4 with $6.5 million.

Box-office receipts for slasher films tend to tumble steeply after opening weekend because the hardcore horror crowd already has come and gone.

The overall box-office rose for the 11th straight weekend. The top 12 movies grossed $69.8 million, up 27 percent from the same weekend last year.

Domestic movie revenues are running 15 to 16 percent ahead of the pace last year, when Hollywood had a record annual total of $8.4 billion.

In limited release, Val Kilmer's thriller "The Salton Sea" opened strongly, grossing $175,000 at 15 theaters for a healthy $11,667 average. Kilmer plays a jazz trumpeter on Los Angeles' mean streets seeking revenge over his wife's murder.

The documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys," a film-festival hit about the birth of extreme skateboarding in the 1970s, debuted in 20 theaters with $111,170 for a $5,559 average.

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

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