'Daredevil' leaps to top of box office

— Movie-goers took Ben Affleck up on his latest dare.

Affleck's "Daredevil," a big-budget gamble on a comic-book character more obscure than "Spider-Man" or "X-Men," paid off nicely with a $43.5 million weekend debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It was the second-best February debut ever behind the $58 million opening of "Hannibal" two years ago. "Daredevil" had the biggest haul ever for a movie opening over Presidents Day weekend, easily surpassing the previous best of $20.3 million for last year's "John Q."

The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," fell to second place but held strongly with $19 million, pushing its 10-day total to $47.7 million. The Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey romance got a boost from Valentine's Day audiences Friday.

Riding the wave of its leading 13 Academy Awards nominations last week, the musical "Chicago" expanded to more theaters and took in $12.6 million, remaining in third place.

In "Daredevil," based on the Marvel Comics hero, Affleck plays a blind attorney with superhuman other senses that allow him to become a deadly crusader for justice by night. The movie co-stars Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday:

1. "Daredevil," $43.5 million.

2. "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," $19 million.

3. "Chicago," $12.6 million.

4. "The Jungle Book 2," $11.9 million.

5. "Shanghai Knights," $11.4 million.

6. "The Recruit," $6.8 million.

7. "Final Destination 2," $6.2 million.

8. "Deliver Us From Eva," $4.4 million.

9. "Kangaroo Jack," $4 million.

10. "About Schmidt," $3.55 million.

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