'Scorpion's' Days at No. 1 May Be Numbered


"The Scorpion King" ruled the box office for a second consecutive weekend with $17.6 million, but its reign is likely to end with the arrival of another hero that's part man, part bug.

One of the most hotly awaited comic-book adaptations ever, "Spider-Man" opens next weekend and is expected to put an early spin on the summer blockbuster season. "It's a total summer movie," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"Scorpion King" distributor Universal 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" premiered 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.

"We gave ourselves two full weeks with a lot of visibility and no real competition out there," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. "It turns out to have been a very successful strategy."

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

This weekend's main new films had weak premieres.

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.

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

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

Box-office receipts for slasher films tend to tumble steeply after opening weekend because the hard-core horror crowd already has come and gone. "Life or Something Like It" might hold up better because its largely female audience liked it and competition is scarce for movies about women, said Rick Myerson, general sales manager for 20th Century Fox, which distributed the film.

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 for his wife's murder.

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

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

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

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