'War Of The Worlds' Invades Box Office, Captures #1

Steven Spielberg film earned $77.6 million over the holiday weekend.

Americans celebrated their country's independence this July 4 weekend by watching Earthlings and aliens duke it out for control of the world in the summer blockbuster "War of the Worlds."

The Steven Spielberg-helmed film easily took control of the box office this long weekend, earning $77.6 million, according to early estimates, to debut at #1. The retelling of the classic H.G. Wells novel scored the second-best four-day opening over a July 4 weekend since 2004's "Spider-Man 2" which earned $115.8 million, according to The Associated Press.

In "War of the Worlds," we watch as one family struggles to survive the massive alien invasion of Earth. Tom Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a formerly self-involved father who has to fight to save his children (including Rachel, played by Dakota Fanning) from the tripod-shaped aliens hell-bent on destroying the planet (see [article id="1504903"]" 'War Of The Worlds' Has History Of Freaking Earthlings Out"[/article]).

The film itself tore the Dark Knight down from his throne atop the box office. "Batman Begins," which held the #1 spot for two weeks, was relegated to the #2 position with more than $18.6 million. With Christian Bale starring as Batman (see [article id="1504050"]"Bale Says Splitting Headache Helped Him Give Batman Dark Edge"[/article]), the film explores the origins of the hero's story, from witnessing the murder of his parents to his vow to become a force of good in Gotham City.

Two significantly more selfish characters held onto the #3 spot once again this week. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as a married couple of assassins charged with the task of killing each other (see [article id="1503791"]"Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Discuss Long-Harbored Fantasies"[/article]), pulled in $12.7 million its fourth week in theaters.

All the nose-twitching and magic broomstick-wielding in the world, meanwhile, couldn't help "Bewitched" hang on to the #2 spot. Starring Will Ferrell as an actor cast to play the lead role of Darrin in a film version of the classic TV series and Nicole Kidman as the real-life witch set to play his wife (see [article id="1504340"]" 'Bewitched' Nicole Kidman Nose What To Do With Witchcraft"[/article]), the feature fell to the #4 spot, pulling in $10.8 million.

"Herbie: Fully Loaded" fell one notch from the #4 spot where it debuted last week. The Disney movie about a car with a need for speed and its driver, the daughter of a NASCAR star (see [article id="1504444"]"Lindsay Lohan Advises Herself To Say 'No' More"[/article]), took the #5 spot and earned more than $10.5 million.

"Madagascar" held court at #6 again this week. The family-friendly animated flick about a group of animals who make a break from the Central Park Zoo earned $7 million.

Rounding out the box-office top 10 are "Rebound" starring Martin Lawrence, which debuted at #7 with $6 million; "Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith," which fell from #7 to #8 with $5 million; "The Longest Yard," which slipped from #8 to #9 with more than $3.5 million; and "George A. Romero's Land of the Dead," which tumbled from #5 to #10 after just two weeks in theaters, taking in over $3.2 million.

Overall, ticket sales were down from the corresponding weekend last year, making this the 19th consecutive week of slumping box-office earnings.

Next week, look for "Fantastic Four" and "Dark Water" to debut on the box-office top 10. Also opening in limited release is "Murderball," a documentary about a wheelchair rugby team.

Check out "Set Visit: War Of The Worlds" for a behind-the-scenes look at this week's #1.

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