Five years after Men in Black took the world by stormmoviegoers clearly still have a taste for alien-zapping, wise-cracking,sharp-dressed secret agents as Men in Black II squashed the competition to set a record five-day haul for the July 4holiday weekend of $90m, according to studio estimates released today. TheColumbia picture took $54.1m for the Friday-to-Sunday period to add toWednesday and Thursday's $35.9m haul, beating the previous three-day markset by the original in 1997, which was also directed by Barry Sonnenfeld andstarred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and went on to make $250m. The previousfive-day record for the holiday weekend was $85m set by IndependenceDay, which coincidentally also featuredSmith fighting the good fight against extra-terrestrials in a lead role.

Despite some poor reviews, audiences flocked to see Smithand Jones do their slapstick routine with all manner of bizarre creatures asthey eliminate 'the scum of the universe'. Critics were unimpressedby the effects-laden extravaganzaand decried what they regarded as a lack of originality and poor gags. Columbiawon't be unduly bothered: the movie averaged $15,209 from 3,231 sites asthe studio continued its annus mirabilis with a 50% audience share over theweekend and a 1-2 top spot with the Adam Sandler comedy Mr Deeds. After the success earlier this year of PanicRoom and the mega-hit Spider-Man, which took $2.2m to nudge past the $400m mark butremains the fifth biggest movie of all time, the studio is set to pass its own$1bn speed record later this week and better its 1997 mark by two months.

The aforementioned Mr Deeds slipped one place to two, with $18.8m in three days - averaging $5,818 from 3,231 venues - and $26.3min five, bringing its estimated cumulative total to $74.1 after ten days onrelease. Like Mike, a new releasefor Fox, enjoyed good reviews and opened in third with $13.1m forFriday-to-Sunday and $20.1m over five days. The movie stars hip hop performerLil' Bow Wow as a short basketball player who develops incredibleon-court skills after he dons a pair of magic sneakers. Buena Vista'sanimated romp Lilo & Stitchdropped a place to fourth with $12.7m over three days to give it a superbrunning total of $103.1m after three weekends on release. Sci-fi thriller MinorityReport slipped three to finish fifth forFox with $12.4m and now has a strong cumulative total of $96.8m for a dark,contemplative movie that eschews the lowest common denominator.

The only other new release was the teenage animated adventureThe Powerpuff Girls Movie for WarnerBros. Despite decent reviews, the Cartoon Network series adaptation opened adisappointing ninth with $3.6m from three days and $6.1m from five.

Overall box office was up 17% on the same weekend lastyear as the top 12 pictures grossed $142m for the three-day period and $219mover five. Next week'sreleases see Jamie Lee Curtis return in the eighth Halloween instalment Halloween: Ressurection and Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey slaying dragons for Buena Vista in Reign of Fire.


Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimatedweekend

gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Men in Black II(Columbia) Columbia TriStar $54.1m $90m

2 (1) Mr Deeds(Columbia) Columbia TriStar $18.8m $74.1m

3 (-) Like Mike(20th Century Fox) Fox $13.1m $20.1m

4 (3) Lilo & Stitch (Buena Vista) BVI $12.7m $103.1m

5 (2) Minority Report(20th Century Fox) Fox/DreamWorks $12.4m $96.8m

6 (5) The Bourne Identity (Universal) UIP $9.1m $89.1m

7 (4) Scooby-Doo(Warner Bros) Warner Bros $7m $137.6m

8 (7) The Sum Of All Fears (Paramount) UIP/Mutual $3.8m $111.9m

9 (-) The Powerpuff Girls Movie (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $3.6m $6.1m

10 (8) Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Warner Bros) Warner Bros

$2.9m $61m