The Top Five

#1 "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" ($57.4 million
#2 "Ocean's Thirteen" ($19.1 million)
#3 "Knocked Up" ($14.3 million)
#4 "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($12 million)
#5 "Surf's Up" ($9.3 million)

In 46 years, they've frequented the Negative Zone and the Crossroads of Infinity, the Microverse and the far reaches of outer space, now the first family of crime fighting is taking a return visit to the top of the box-office heap. With $57.4 million over three days, a tad more than its predecessor made two years ago, first place for the "Fantastic Four" is beginning to feel about as comfy as the Baxter Building on a breezy, calm New York morning.

While "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" earned just $1.3 million more during its opening weekend than the original, the "Silver Surfer" figure is somewhat more impressive this time around, coming after the first film's failure in the eyes of the critical and geek community.

Advance criticism of "Rise of the Silver Surfer" swirled like a giant cloud of galactic negativity in the months leading up to its release, but box-office prognosticators could have learned a thing or two from Dr. Doom or Galactus. As they've done so many times in the past, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing ultimately banded together and clobbered the competition, pulling out a win just as victory seemed lost.

Also fantastic was the Judd Apatow comedy "Knocked Up," which fell only 26 percent in its third weekend, to leap frog "Pirates" and come in third place with $14.3 million. With $90 million, the R-rated romp will no doubt cross the magical $100 million blockbuster barrier next week.

Or, about the same time, roughly, as "Shrek the Third" crosses $300 million. While amazingly impressive, the total hauls for "Shrek" and "Pirates" (which currently stand at $297 and $273 million, respectively) will fall about 25 percent short of the second films' gross in each series.

Among other new releases, "Nancy Drew" failed to find much an audience, finishing in seventh place with $7.1 million, while "DOA: Dead or Alive" was dead on arrival. The movie about deadly female fighters managed only $232,000.

How'd We Do?

We went back and forth all week at the office, arguing whether fans would flock to "Fantastic Four," or whether the failure of the first flick would lead to a follow-up flop. But critics and dust clouds be damned. By correctly predicting that "Rise of the Silver Surfer" would make about as much as the original (his guess was $60 million — see "Fantastic Four' Sequel Counting On Silver Surfer To Deliver Box-Office Gold"), Josh Horowitz wins the weekend and pads his overall lead over Larry Carroll (who, for the record, was only $3 million off).

Prognosticator (Weeks Won)
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor (18)
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer (9)
Celebrity guests (6)

In Perspective

Let this be a lesson to movie studio executives everywhere — if you want to open a movie to enormous numbers, all it takes is 40-plus years of character development and back story. (Not to mention three generations of devoted fans). Marvel comics scored another hit this weekend, putting them on pace for their eleventh $100 million movie since "X-Men" broke through in 2000. Not including "Spider-Man" (which would otherwise dominate), here are their top five weekend openings.

#1 "X-Men: The Last Stand" ($102.6 million)
#2 "X2" ($85.6 million)
#3 "Hulk" ($62 million)
#4 "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" ($57.4 million)
#5 "The Fantastic Four" ($56 million)

Next Week

It seems like we say this every week (it is the summer, after all) but yet another blockbuster heads our way next weekend with the release of "Evan Almighty." Will audiences flock to this semi-sequel two-by-two, or will the most expensive comedy ever made get caught out in the rain? Its competition includes "1408," a Steven King adaptation starring John Cusack — the scariest movie of the year (really!) — and "A Mighty Heart," a drama about the kidnapping of journalist Daniel Pearl, starring Angelina Jolie.

Check out everything we've got on "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,", "Ocean's Thirteen," and "Knocked Up".

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