J. Lo, Will Ferrell Trail Behind Record-Breaking ‘Sith’

Despite 'Star Wars' prequel's take, box-office earnings were down from last year.

The force was strong with the final episode of the “Star Wars” prequels, as the film pulled in record numbers of moviegoers in its opening four days.

“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” earned $108.5 million in its opening weekend, according to early estimates, and $158.5 million since it debuted on Thursday (see ” ‘Sith’ Smashes Opening-Day Box-Office Records” ). Those numbers helped the final installment obliterate three-day and four-day box-office records, previously held by the first “Spider-Man” flick ($114.8 million) and “The Matrix Reloaded” ($134.3 million), respectively.

In the last of the prequels — the film largely deemed the best of the trio by film critics and fans — we finally find out how Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side (see “Hayden Christensen Says Donning Mask Of Ultimate Evil For ‘Sith’ Was ‘So Cool’ “ ), and we learn the fate of the Old Republic.

None of the other films on the box-office top 10 came close to touching “Episode III.” “Monster-in-Law,” which debuted last week at #1, slipped down to #2 with just over $14.3 million. The film stars Jennifer Lopez as a woman whose previously dismal love life seems to improve when she finds the man of her dreams — until she meets her vindictive mother-in-law to-be, played by Jane Fonda (see “Slap Happy: Jennifer Lopez Takes Off The Gloves For ‘Monster-In-Law’ “).

All the “Kicking & Screaming” in the world couldn’t help Will Ferrell’s new flick challenge the box-office king this week. Following a father who attempts to help his son’s soccer team win the championship title by becoming their coach, the film fell from #2 to #3, taking more than $10.5 million.

“Crash” had a box office mini-miracle of its own this week, rising a spot from #5 to #4. The hard-hitting drama centers on the coming together of disparate people — including a police detective, a housewife, a D.A. and a storeowner — through a car accident. With Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon and Ludacris in starring roles (see “Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges: Movie Star”), “Crash” pulled in $5.5 million.

After debuting at #3 last week, “Unleashed” took a downturn, dropping two notches to #5 with earnings of just over $3.8 million. Jet Li stars in this action film about a slave who grew up with no education and learned just one skill: how to fight. Kept obedient by his owner through a collar around his neck, the slave becomes a vicious killing machine when unleashed.

“Kingdom of Heaven” slipped down to the bottom half of the box-office top 10 after just three weeks in theaters. Starring Orlando Bloom as a man thrust into battle during the Crusades of the 12th century, the film fell from #4 to #6 with more than $3.3 million.

Rounding out this week’s top 10 are “House of Wax,” which slips from #6 to #7 with more than $3.1 million; “The Interpreter,” which holds steady at #8 with $2.8 million; “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which falls from #7 to #9 with more than $2 million; and “Mindhunters,” which hangs on to #10 for the second week in a row with $909,000.

Despite the epic box office earnings of “Sith,” ticket sales were down from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for “The Longest Yard” and “Madagascar” to debut on the box-office top 10.

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