Zombies Drive Jesus From Top Of Box Office

'Dawn of the Dead' rakes in $27.3 million over the weekend.

In a scenario only a Hollywood producer could have dreamt up, a remake of a

1970s cult horror movie about zombies attacking humans in an abandoned shopping

mall drove Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" from the top of the box-office heap.

The $26 million "Dawn of the Dead" remake easily cruised to a #1 finish with

an estimated $27.3 million take over the weekend, according to studio

estimates. The surprisingly strong finish for the Sarah Polley/ Ving Rhames popcorn

flick meant that Gibson's run at #1 was stopped at three weeks. The controversial

retelling of the final 12 hours in the life of Christ lost 40 percent of its

audience, but slipped only one spot on $19.2 million in estimated grosses,

bringing its to-date domestic total to $295.3 million.

Angelina Jolie couldn't scare up quite as much business, as her FBI crime

drama "Taking Lives" debuted at #3 with $11.4 million. The only other new release

to debut in the top 10 was the Jim Carrey romance "Eternal Sunshine of

the Spotless Mind," which came in at #6 on $8.6 million in receipts in limited

release. The film was written by quirky "Being John Malkovich" scribe Charlie

Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, best known for his innovative videos for

the likes of the White Stripes and Björk.

"Starsky & Hutch" had another strong weekend, taking home $10.7 million, good

enough for fourth place. The four-week total for the Ben Stiller/ Owen Wilson flick

stands at $67.8 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are "Secret Window" at #5 with $9.6 million;

"Hidalgo" at #7 with $8.5 million; "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London" at

#8 with $6 million; "50 First Dates" at #9 with $4.3 million and "Confessions

of a Teenage Drama Queen" at #10 with $1.5 million.

Thanks to the strong debuts and the continuing draw of "The Passion," the top

12 films grossed $110 million, a 33 percent uptick from the same weekend last

year.