'Men in Black II' has explosive July Fourth debut

— "Men in Black II" grabbed fistfuls of little green dollars at the box office as the alien-busting sequel debuted with $54.1 million in its first weekend, slightly more than the original took in.

That set a new record for a Fourth of July weekend, topping the $51.1 million the original "Men in Black" took in that weekend in 1997. But factoring in admission-price increases, the sequel sold fewer tickets than the original.

The overall box-office also set a new July Fourth record. The top 12 films alone grossed an estimated $219 million from Wednesday to Sunday, compared with $198.2 million for the top 50 movies over the five-day July Fourth weekend in 1996, the previous record holder.

On top of its $54.1 million Friday to Sunday total, "Men in Black II" has grossed $90 million since opening Wednesday, compared with $84.1 million for the original in its first five days.

"Men in Black II," which reunites Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as dark-clad agents for an agency that polices alien activity, packed theaters despite generally poor reviews.

The film bumped last weekend's No. 1 movie, "Mr. Deeds," to second place with $18.8 million in its second weekend. That pushed the 10-day total for "Mr. Deeds" to $74 million.

"Like Mike," an NBA basketball fantasy starring teen rapper Bow Wow, opened solidly at No. 3 with $13.1 million from Friday to Sunday. The movie has taken in $20.1 million since premiering Wednesday.

The weekend's other new wide release, "The Powerpuff Girls Movie," debuted a distant No. 9 with a weak $3.6 million for the weekend and $6.1 million since its Wednesday opening.

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

1. "Men in Black II," $54.1 million.

2. "Mr. Deeds," $18.8 million.

3. "Like Mike," $13.1 million.

4. "Lilo & Stitch," $12.7 million.

5. "Minority Report," $12.4 million.

6. "The Bourne Identity," $9.1 million.

7. "Scooby-Doo," $7 million.

8. "The Sum of All Fears," $3.8 million.

9. "The Powerpuff Girls Movie," $3.6 million.

10. "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," $2.9 million.


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