Twentieth Century Fox's Kingdom of Heaven debuted at the topof the North American box office chart this weekend but its $20m estimatedgross fell short of some industry predictions and failed to give the summerseason a hoped for kick start. Warner Bros' House of Wax opened in second spot,but its estimated $12.2m gross was also a bit of a disappointment.

With several holdovers falling off heavily, overall top tenbox office for the weekend now considered the start of the summer season wasdown more than 24% from 2004. Only Lions Gate's Crash beat expectations,opening with a solid $9.1m estimate from fewer than 2,000 theatres.

Fox said it was happy with the performance of Kingdom,Ridley Scott's historical adventure about the Crusades. The film got mixedreviews and was criticized by some religious groups but it still averaged$6,219 from 3,216 theatres. The take may have been limited by a two-and-a-halfhour running time and an R rating that in theory kept younger fans of starOrlando Bloom away.

House of Wax, produced for Warner Bros and Village Roadshowby Joel Silver's Dark Castle, offered younger audiences the ubiquitous ParisHilton in a remake of the Vincent Price horror classic. Reviews werepredictably negative and the rating was also R, but enough fans turned out fora $3,923 average from 3,111 theatres.

Crash, produced by Bull's Eye Entertainment and distributedin the US by Lions Gate, is written and directed by Million Dollar Babyscreenwriter Paul Haggis and boasts an impressive ensemble cast includingSandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle. It got strongreviews and valuable publicity exposure from its story about race relations inLos Angeles. Also R rated, it averaged $4,882 from 1,864 theatres.

Among holdovers, last week's number one, The Hitchhiker'sGuide to the Galaxy, dropped by 57% to an estimated $9.1m gross and fell tothird in the chart. The Buena Vista release averaged $2,914 from 3,133theatres.

Last week's number two, Universal's The Interpreter, held onrelatively well in its third week, dropping 46% for an estimated $7.5m grossand $2,665 average from 2,814 theatres.

Sony/Revolution's XXX: State of the Union fell off by 57%and dropped from third to sixth. Its $5.4m estimated weekend gross produced anaverage of $1,552 from 3,480 theatres.

Next weekend's wide releases are: Universal's Kicking &Screaming, starring Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall; New Line's Monster-in-Law,with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda starring; Miramax's Mindhunters, with LL CoolJ, Val Kilmer and Christian Slater; and Focus Features' Unleashed, whose castis headed by Jet Li, Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins.

Estimated Top Ten US May 6-8 2005

Film (Distributor)/Internationaldistribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Kingdom of Heaven (Fox) Fox Int'l $20m -

2 (-) House of Wax (Warner Bros) Warner BrosInt'l/Village Roadshow $12.2m -

3 (1) The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy(BuenaVista) Spyglass/BVI $9.1m $35.1m

4 (-) Crash (Lions Gate) Syndicate Films Int'l$9.1m -

5 (2) The Interpreter(Universal) UIP $7.5m$54.1m

6 (3) XXX: The Next Level(Sony/Revolution)SPRI/Revolution $5.4m $20.8m

7 (4) The Amityville Horror(MGM/Dimension)Fox International/BVI $3.2m $60.1m

8 (5) Sahara(Paramount) Summit Entertainment $3.1m $61.3m

9 (6) A Lot Like Love(Touchstone)Summit/BVI $3m $18.8m

10 (7) Fever Pitch(Fox) Fox Int'l $2m $39m