‘Da Vinci Code’ Cracks Box-Office #1 With $77 Million

Despite negative reviews, film opens on top in the U.S., earns $224 million worldwide.

The huge audience keen on unlocking the mystery of “The Da Vinci Code” didn’t let critics talk them out of a trip to the cineplex this weekend. The film, which earned an estimated $77 million since opening Friday, bowed at #1 on the box-office top 10.

Based on the bestselling book by Dan Brown, “The Da Vinci Code” also pulled in $224 million worldwide, making it the top earner of the year so far — with the second largest worldwide opening of all time behind “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” according to The Associated Press.

In the film, Tom Hanks stars as Robert Langdon, a symbologist called to the Louvre to look into the murder of a curator whose attacker left behind a trail of symbols and clues. Cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tatou) joins Langdon in his search for answers, and in the process they find a secret society committed to protecting a 2,000-year-old secret (see “Ian McKellen Sticks Up For Evil In ‘Da Vinci Code,’ ‘X-Men’ “ ).

The animated family film “Over the Hedge” also opened Friday, debuting at #2 with more than $37.2 million. The film features the voices of Bruce Willis, Avril Lavigne and Steve Carell as animals whose world changes when houses — and the humans who live in them — spring up near the forest they call home (see “Look Out For Avril, Bruce Willis Digging In Your Trash” ).

The two new releases pushed “Mission: Impossible III” — which held the #1 spot for the last two weeks — down to #3. The action flick that stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, a good-guy spy who faces off with a ruthless villain played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, earned more than $11 million (see ” ‘Mission: Impossible III’: Hunt Is On”) .

The water-logged drama “Poseidon” was similarly knocked down two notches from #2 to #4 with $9.2 million. The film, featuring Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell and the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie, centers on a group of people forced to fight for survival when their cruise ship is capsized by a massive wave (see ” ‘Poseidon’ Actors — Bruised, Battered And Soaked — Say They Barely Survived”) .

“RV,” starring Robin Williams as a father who tries to get his family (including a teenage daughter played by JoJo) to spend some time together by renting an RV to drive across the country, slipped from #3 to #5, earned $5.1 million its fourth weekend in theaters (see “Robin Williams To ‘RV’ Co-Star JoJo: ‘You The Man!’ “ ).

“See No Evil” was the only other new release to impact the latest box-office top 10, bowing at #6 with more than $4.3 million. The horror flick, starring massive WWE wrestler Kane, centers on a crazed killer who kidnaps a teenager and must go up against a group of juvenile delinquents fighting to get her back (see “WWE Star Kane Has Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers In His Sights” ).

Rounding out this week’s box-office top 10 are “Just My Luck,” which fell from #4 to #7 with more than $3.3 million; “An American Haunting,” which dropped from #5 to #8 with more than $1.6 million; “United 93,” which slipped from #6 to #9 with more than $1.4 million; and “Akeelah and the Bee,” down one to #10 with $1 million.

Overall, ticket sales were down from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for “X-Men: The Last Stand” to debut on the box-office top 10.

See everything we’ve got on “The Da Vinci Code”, “Over the Hedge” and “Mission: Impossible III”.

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