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