Columbia's Bad Boys II swaggered its way to the top of the table over theweekend on an estimated $46.7m, some three times bigger than the original's$15.5m bow in 1995.
The sequel reunites directorMichael Bay with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as fast-talking narcotics cops,this time on the trail of a Miami kingpin.
Bad Boys II drew mostly poor reviews but nobody at the studiowill care too much about that.
It averaged a strong $14,657from 3,186 sites and is expected to surpass the original's domestic gross of$65.8m.
The release also earnedproducer Jerry Bruckheimer the distinction of having the top two films at thebox office, as Disney's Pirates Of The Caribbean slipped one place to second on $33.3m for $132.2m in12 days on release.
Overall box office for thetop 12 titles was $137.6m, up around 33% from the same period last year.
That figure owed little tothe top 10's two other openers, however. Universal's spy spoof JohnnyEnglish, already a $100m-plus smashinternationally, opened fourth on a disappointing $9.3m, averaging $4,159 from2,236 theatres.
Rowan Atkinson plays a maladroitsecret agent entrusted with the task of retrieving the Queen's Crown Jewels.Peter Howitt directed in his first since Antitrust in 2001.
Even the added talents ofNatalie Imbruglia and John Malkovich weren't enough to sway the critics, whogave Johnny English so-soreviews.
Opening in eighth on ameagre $5.8m was New Line's pickup How To Deal, a romantic comedy starring Mandy Moore as adispirited teenager who meets the right guy.
Allison Janney and TrentFord also star and How To Dealwas directed by Clare Kilner. It averaged $2,501 from 2,319 venues and receivedmostly poor reviews.
Elsewhere 20th Century Fox'sThe League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen fell one to third in its second week, adding $10.1m for anextraordinarily lacklustre $42.5m.
Warner Bros' T3 fell two to fifth on $9.2m for $127.8m in its thirdweek, while Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo dropped one to sixth on $7.3m for a $303.8m running total in its eighthweek.
Fox Searchlight's 28 DaysLater maintained a strong run in itsfourth week, grossing $2.6m for a $33.4m cumulative score.
On limited release Miramax'sLondon-set drama Dirty Pretty Things opened on five screens over the weekend, grossing $101,000.
Directed by Stephen Frearsand well regarded by the press, the film stars Audrey Tautou and ChiwetelEjiofor as illegal immigrants who try to solve a murder.
Miramax claimed the $20,200pre-screen average is the second highest for a specialised release this summerbehind the documentary Capturing The Friedmans, which averaged a little over $21,700.DirtyPretty Things will expand into thetop 10 markets on Aug 1.
Next week's releases includeParamont's Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life, starring Angelina Jolie; Universal's Oscar hopeful Seabiscuit, starring Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges; andMiramax's Spy Kids 3D: Game Over,starring Antonio Banderas.
Estimated Top Ten US Jul18-20, 2003
Film(Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date
1 (-) Bad Boys II (Columbia) CTFDI $46.7m -
2 (1) Pirates Of TheCaribbean (Buena Vista) BVI $33.3m$132.2m
3 (2) The League OfExtraordinary Gentlemen (20thCentury Fox) Fox International $10.1m $42.5m
4 (-) Johnny English (Universal) UIP $9.3m -
5 (3) Terminator 3: RiseOf The Machines (Warner Bros) CTFDI$9.2m $127.8m
6 (5) Finding Nemo (Disney/Pixar) BVI $7.3m $303.8m
7 (4) Legally Blonde 2:Red, White & Blonde (MGM) FoxInternational $6.1m $75.4m
8 (-) How To Deal (New Line) Focus Features $5.8m -
9 (6) Charlie's Angels:Full Throttle (Columbia) CTFDI $3.7m$89.1m
10 (8) 28 Days Later (Fox Searchlight) Fox International $2.6m $33.4m