Itwas another strong weekend at the North American box office, with overallticket sales for the top 12 films up 39% from the same weekend last yearcontinuing an upward trend on 2003 for the sixth consecutive weekend.

RevolutionStudios' well-reviewed comic book actioner Hellboy directed by Guillermo Del Toro opened at number onewith a $23.5m gross through Columbia Pictures.

Thefilm, which stars Ron Perlman as the bright red, cigar-chomping demon workingfor good in a world of evil, was shot in Prague last year on a budget in the$65m region. It co-stars Selma Blair, Rupert Evans, John Hurt and JeffreyTambor. Playing in 3,208 sites, the film averaged $7,761, the highest figure inthe top ten.

Inat number two for the weekend was MGM and Hyde Park Entertainment's remake of70s action classic Walking Tallwhich has been refashioned as a vehicle for The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson. The$15.3m opening was lower than The Rock's last movie The Rundown ($18.5m) last year; playing on 2,836 sites, themovie averaged $5,395.

Johnsonplays a tough lawman back from an un-named war who is horrified to find hishometown overrun by drug-dealers. He sets out to clean up the town. Kevin Braydirected.

Lastweekend's number one film Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed fell to third slot with $15.1m, bringing its ten-daytotal to $50m. It still managed to beat Disney's latest 2-D animated movie HomeOn The Range which came in at fourwith a disappointing $14m although the studio is hoping it will pick up as thefamily movie of choice over the upcoming Easter holidays.

HomeOn The Range, a farmyard comedyfeaturing the voices of Roseanne, Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilly, Cuba Gooding Jrand Randy Quaid, played in 3,047 sites, scoring an average of $4,595, which wasjust higher than Scooby Doo 2.

Thefourth wide new entry at five was Paramount's The Prince & Me which was co-financed by Lions Gate Films. Aromantic teen fantasy pic, the movie took $10m. In 2,682 sites, it averaged$3,279, the lowest average of the four new films. Starring Julia Stiles and UKnewcomer Luke Mably, it was, like Hellboy shot partly in Prague. MarthaCoolidge directed.

Newmarket Films and Icon,meanwhile, upped the screen count for The Passion Of The Christ in anticipation of a big weekend over next week'sEaster holiday. It is now playing in 3,408 theatres.

Christ is upagainst some wide competition next weekend from five new entries - BuenaVista's long-delayed The Alamostarring Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Quaid, Miramax's family fantasy EllaEnchanted featuring Anne Hathaway,Fox's raunchy teen comedy The Girl Next Door starring Emile Hirsch, Fox Searchlight's urbancomedy Johnson Family Vacationwhich is a vehicle for Cedric The Entertainer and Warner Bros/FranchisePictures' sequel The Whole Ten Yards featuring Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry.

Estimated TopTen US Apr 2-4, 2004

Film(Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date

1 (-) Hellboy (Columbia/Revolution) Columbia TriStar$23.5m --
2 (-) WalkingTall (MGM) 20thCentury Fox/Hyde Park $15.3m --
3 (1) Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $15m $50m
4 (-) Home OnThe Range (Buena Vista)BVI $14m --
5 (-) ThePrince & Me(Paramount) Lions Gate International $10m --
6 (3) ThePassion Of The Christ(Newmarket) Icon International $9.9m $330.1m
7 (2) TheLadykillers (BuenaVista) BVI $7m $23.4m
8 (5) JerseyGirl (Miramax) MiramaxIntl $5.1m $15.8m
9 (4) Dawn OfThe Dead (Universal)Strike/UIP $4.4m $51.6m
10 (9) EternalSunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Focus Features) Focus Features $3.6m $22m