Disney/Pixar's FindingNemo made a splash overthe weekend as it scored the biggest ever bow for an animated film, opening onan estimated $70.6m.
The latest pieceof wizardry from Pixar, the studio behind Monsters Inc and Toy Story, was doused in critical praise andaveraged $20,924 from 3,374 venues.
It is the fifth consecutive number one opening for Pixarand Disney, which currently handles worldwide distribution on all Pixar titles,beating the previous record for an animated bow of $62.5m set by MonstersInc in Nov 2001.
Finding Nemo is also the first Pixar film to bereleased in the summer, a clear recognition by the studio that Pixar titleshave the box office clout to open in the most competitive season.
Albert Brookslends his vocal talents to the role of Marlin, an ocean-dwelling clownfish whosets off to rescue his son from a dentist's aquarium.
Ellen DeGeneres,Geoffrey Rush and Willem Dafoe also star and Finding Nemo was directed by Andrew Stanton.
Universal'scomedy Bruce Almightyadded $35.6m for a staggering total of $135.7m in its first ten days.
Opening in thirdon $19.3m was Paramount's The Italian Job, a remake of Peter Collinson's 1969 crime caper.
It stars MarkWahlberg as a criminal mastermind who stages Los Angeles' biggest ever trafficjam to pull off a gold bullion heist. F Gary Gray directed.
Charlize Theron, Ed Norton, Seth Green and Jason Stathamalso star and the film, which delighted the critics, averaged $7,330 from 2,633sites.
Strong word ofmouth is expected to fuel a strong box office run as the summer progresses.
Down a hefty 62%and two places to fourth was Warner Bros' The Matrix Reloaded, which added just over $15m for $232.1min its third week.
The sci-fi sequel is losing momentum fast and studioexecutives have revised their initial $300m estimates.
They now expectit to finish in the $275m-$280m range, although the film could receive a boostwhen it begins a large screen run in IMAX theatres later this week.
Columbia/Revolution'scomedy Daddy Day Carefell two to fifth place on $6.8m for $81.9m in its fourth week and is expectedto just squeeze past $100m.
NewRegency/Summit Entertainment's horror film Wrong Turn opened on $5m through Fox, tying with studiostablemate X2: X-Men United in sixth place.
Eliza Dushku,Jeremy Sisto and Emmanuelle Chriqui stars in the story of teenagers on the runfrom in-bred cannibals in the West Virginia woods.
The film was directed by Rob Schmidt and averaged $3,102from 1,615 sites. It received fairly poor reviews.
X2, which kicked off the summer season ingrand style five weeks ago, is on the cusp of $200m. It added just over $5m fora $199.3m running total.
FoxSearchlight's arthouse hit Bend It Like Beckham climbed one place to 10th on $1m for$19.2m in its 12th week.
Overall box office climbed 42% against the same period lastyear - a second consecutive week-on-week rise - as the top 12 films combinedfor $165.5m.
Universal willunleash its second giant of the year next week with the street racing sequel 2Fast 2 Furious, whichstars Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson.
Estimated TopTen US May 30-Jun 1, 2003
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimatedweekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) FindingNemo (Buena Vista) BVI$70.6m -
2 (1) BruceAlmighty (Universal)Spyglass/BVI $35.6m $135.7m
3 (-) TheItalian Job (Paramount)UIP $19.3m -
4 (2) TheMatrix Reloaded (WarnerBros) Warner Bros $15m $232.1m
5 (3) DaddyDay Care(Columbia/Revolution) CTFDI $6.8m $81.9m
6 (4) X2:X-Men United (Fox) FoxInternational $5m $199.3m
7 (-) WrongTurn (Fox) SummitEntertainment $5m -
8 (5) TheIn-Laws (Warner Bros)Warner Bros $3.7m $14.4m
9 (6) DownWith Love (Fox) FoxInternational $1.6m $17.2m
10 (11) BendIt Like Beckham (FoxSearchlight) Fox International CTFDI $1m $19.2m