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‘T4’ Can’t Stop Scorching ‘Smithsonian’

”Battle of the Smithsonian“ grosses $70m in four days; ‘Terminator Salvation” takes $67m in five.

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” grossed $70 million on Memorial Day weekend, beating out “Terminator: Salvation”…and it wasn’t even close.


The four-day total of $70 million for Fox’s “Museum 2” beat “T4’s” five-day total. Warner Bros.’ “T4” finished the holiday weekend with $67.2 million, including $13.3 million from midnight screenings on Wednesday and all day Thursday. "Museum 2" opened on Friday. 


The comedy adventure’s win represents the biggest Memorial Day opening for a PG-rated film and the best debut for a live-action feature starring Ben Stiller.


The overall box-office hardly set any records. This weekend was almost equal to last year’s Memorial Day grosses, when “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” led with $126.9 million. Overall, the box office is up 14% year-to-date from 2008.


“This weekend did not break any significant box-office records — something we have become used to seeing in this year,” said Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com. “Nonetheless, of the past nine weeks this was the eighth ‘up’ weekend versus last year.” 


It seemed “T4” would hit $70 million after garnering $3 million from Wednesday midnight screenings alone. But “Museum 2” hit McG’s sequel hard right out of the gate. The family-friendly comedy beat “T4’s” Friday take by $500,000 and “Museum 2’s” ticket sales increased 30 percent on Saturday. By Sunday, the sequels were neck in neck: “Museum 2” has grossed $53.5 in three days and “T4” had grossed $56.3 million in four days.


Fox banked on families frequenting “Museum 2,” but non-family audiences also flocked to film: On Sunday, Fox reported that 52 percent of the film’s ticket-buyers were non-family. Early tracking last week indicated that “T4’s” audience would be mostly young men.


“Comedy rules, particularly in our times right now,” Fox senior VP Chris Aronson said. " ‘Terminator’ is very dark and apocalyptic. People have enough dark and apocalyptic in their lives right now.”


Representatives for Warner Bros. have not returned TheWrap’s requests for comment.


T4’s debut came very close to $68 million five-day opening of “Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines” in 2003.


While North American audiences opted for comedy, overseas audiences went for the thriller “Angels & Demons.”


Ron Howard’s “Da Vinci Code” prequel grossed an impressive $60.4 million in its second weekend overseas; “Museum 2” made $50.1 million in 93 markets.  According to Sony, “Angels” has racked up $280 million worldwide so far and will hit $300 million by Wednesday. “T4” will open in international markets in two weeks.


Back in North America, "Star Trek" proved its staying power by landing in the No. 3 spot with $29.4 million — a 47 percent drop in sales for its third weekend.


Paramount said the film continues to perform within their estimates, and “Trek’s” audience is largely female and under 25.


"Angels" followed “Trek” with  $27.7 million domestically — a 53 percent drop in ticket sales from its debut last weekend.


Memorial Day weekend’s other debut “Dance Flick” landed in the No. 5 spot with $13.1 million, a far cry from the Wayans Family’s “Scary Movie” series, the first of which debuted with $42.3 million in 2000.


"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" exited the top five for the first time since it hit theaters four weeks ago. The mutant adventure grossed $10 million this weekend — a 46 percent drop from last weekend.


“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” came in at No. 7 with $4.8 million, followed by “Obsessed,” which garnered another $2.5 million.


Now in its ninth week in release, “Monsters vs. Aliens” maintained its place in the top ten. The animated adventured took in $1.9 million followed by “17 Again’” with $1.2 million.


Jim Stern, CEO of Endgame Entertainment, had quite a weekend on the indie front. Three of the company’s films — “The Brothers Bloom,” “Easy Virtue” and “Every Little Step” — are in the top ten for biggest per-theater averages this weekend.


“Virtue” — a period comedy starring Jessica Biel, Kristen Scott Thomas and Colin Firth — opened this weekend with a per-theater average of $14,614, right behind “T4’s” $15,248 average and “Museum 2’s” $17,000 average. “Virtue’s” total take was $146,140 in 10 theaters.


“Brothers” — Rian Johnson’s $20 million sophomore film — averaged just over $10,000 per theater and “Step’s” average was nearly $3,000. “Brothers,” which expanded from four to 52 theaters this weekend, has grossed $527,000 since its limited release last weekend. “Step,” which debuted April 17 in eight theaters, has garnered $738,000 cumulatively.


Elsewhere in the indie world, Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” debuted in theaters with 214,000 in 30 theaters and Disney’s documentary “The Boys” opened with $19,400 in five theaters.