RevengeOf The Sith fought off two strongdebuts to stay atop the charts over a four-day Memorial Day Weekend, whichdespite an impressive aggregate gross saw overall box office fall against theprevious year for the 14th consecutive weekend.
Released through 20th Century Fox, Sith added an estimated $70.8m for a lofty $271.2m running total after two weekends.
The picture looks good to pass Episode II's $310m final total from 2002 and has a good shot atovertaking the franchise record, set by Episode I with $431.1m in 1999.
Fired up by positive reviews and the kind of repeat business that is essentialto any title with $300m-plus aspirations, George Lucas' latest sci-fi saga hasenjoyed a storming run since its global launch last weekend.
Sith's opening day alone produced$50m and last week it tied with Spider-Man 2 in becoming the fastest picture topass $200m in eight days.
Madagascar opened in second placeon $61m. DreamWorks' CGI-animated feature centres on a group of animals from aNew York zoo who must learn to fend for themselves after they are stranded onthe African island in transit.
The vocal talents of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith and DaveSchwimmer, among others, provide the laughs, and Madagascar was directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath. Itdrew mixed reviews.
Opening third on $60m was Paramount's The Longest Yard, a remake of the 1974 dramedy that stars AdamSandler as an incarcerated former American football legend who coaches a teamof convicts in a game against sadistic guards.
Peter Segal's comedy failed to impress the critics and also stars Chris Rock,James Cromwell, William Fichtner and Burt Reynolds, who played the lead in the1974 original. Sony Pictures Releasing International is handling the pictureoutside North America.
New Line's comedy Monster In Lawfell two places to fourth on $11.1m for $60.7m, while Lions Gate's drama Crash continued its notable run despite slipping two tosixth on $6m for $36.1m..
Overall box office for the top 12 titles came to $225.5m, down 5% against thesame weekend last year when Shrek 2and The Day After Tomorrow ruledthe roost.
Next weekend's wide releases are: Universal's boxing drama The CinderellaMan starring Russell Crowe and ReneeZellweger; Lions Gate's thriller High Tension starring Cecile De France and Philippe Nahon; SonyPicture's skateboarding drama The Lords Of Dogtown starring Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch and Nikki Reed;and Warner Bros' adventure Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, which stars Amber Tamblyn and Jenna Boyd.
Estimated Top Ten US May 27-30 2005
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date
1 (1) Star Wars:Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith(Fox) Fox Int'l $70.8m $271.2m
2 (-) Madagascar (DreamWorks) UIP$61m -
3 (-) The Longest Yard(Paramount) SPRI $60m -
4 (2) Monster-In-Law (New Line)New Line $11.1m $60.7m
5 (3) Kicking & Screaming(Universal) UIP $6.6m $44.2m
6 (4) Crash (Lions Gate)Syndicate Films Int'l $6m $36.1m
7 (8) The Interpreter (Universal)UIP $2.6m $69.2m
8 (5) Unleashed (Rogue)EuropaCorp/UIP $2.3m $21.9m
9 (6) Kingdom Of Heaven (Fox) FoxInt'l $2.2m $44.9m
10 (7) House Of Wax (Warner Bros)Warner Bros Int'l/Village Roadshow $1.6m $29.9m