'Lara Croft' battles into box office lead

— The high score for the weekend belongs to Lara Croft. Her tally: $48.2 million. That was the weekend take for Angelina Jolie's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," which opened at No. 1 with the best box-office debut ever for a movie based on a video game.

In second place was Disney's animated adventure "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." Featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox, "Atlantis" took in $20.4 million in its nationwide debut after playing for a week in New York City and Los Angeles.

It was a soft opening compared to Hollywood's last cartoon feature, DreamWorks' "Shrek," which opened a month ago with $42.3 million in its first three days.

"Shrek" held strong this weekend, taking third place with $12.9 million.

At $197.2 million, "Shrek" passed "The Mummy Returns" as the year's top-grossing movie and is expected to top $200 million by the middle of this week.

Last weekend's top film, "Swordfish," fell to No. 4 with $12.2 million.

The crime thriller "Sexy Beast," starring Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone, opened strongly in limited release. The film grossed $180,695 in nine theaters in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto, averaging a whopping $20,077 a theater.

The first "Tomb Raider" game was introduced in the mid-1990s, and the gun-toting, globe-hopping Croft quickly became a cultural sensation. With a PG-13 rating, "Tomb Raider" likely siphoned off many young movie-goers who might have gone to see the PG-rated "Atlantis."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures are to be released today.

1. "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," $48.2 million.

2. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," $20.4 million.

3. "Shrek," $12.9 million.

4. "Swordfish," $12.2 million.

5. "Pearl Harbor," $9.5 million.

6. "Evolution," $6.5 million.

7. "The Animal," $5.7 million.

8. "Moulin Rouge," $5.2 million.

9. "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" $2.8 million.

10. "The Mummy Returns," $2.4 million.


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