Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian grossed an estimated $70m over the four day Memorial Day holiday, beating rival opener Terminator Salvation, which took $53.8m.

Opening in 4,096 theatres (for a per theatre average of $17,090) Fox’s Museum (known internationally as Night at the Museum 2) grossed an estimated $53.5m between Friday and Sunday, easily beating the $30.4m three-day opening achieved in December 2006 by the original Night at the Museum.

But the family adventure comedy – which reunites original star Ben Stiller with director Shawn Levy and expands the supporting cast to include Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais and Robin Williams – may still find it hard to match its predecessor’s final domestic tally of $258.9m, to which international markets added another $323.6m. The original played well over the entire Christmas period while the big budget PG sequel will face stiff summer competition in the coming weeks.

  • Terminator Salvation, distributed domestically by Warner, open on Thursday and played in 3,530 theatres (for a per-theatre average of $15,249). Its total estimated gross at the end of the holiday weekend stood at $67.2m for five days. On Friday and Saturday, the fourth instalment of the sci-fi action Terminator franchise took an estimated $43m.

The opening was smaller than that for previous franchise instalment Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which opened over the July 4 holiday weekend in 2003 and took $44m over the Friday to Sunday period and $72.4m over the five days from Wednesday to Sunday. Terminator 3 went on to take $150.4m domestically and $283m internationally.

Produced by the Halcyon Company, the pricey effects-laden sequel has Christian Bale and Sam Worthington starring and McG directing. Although it is missing original franchise star Arnold Schwarzenegger, its PG-13 rating (all three previous Terminator films were R-rated) should have brought it a relatively broad audience.

  • The weekend’s other new wide release, Paramount’s MTV-produced Dance Flick, opened in fifth place with an estimated $13.1m over four days from 2,450 theatres (average - $5,347).

The dance movie spoof – written by Scary Movie director Keenan Ivory Wayans and four other members of the Wayans clan, directed by Damien Wayans, and starring Damon Wayans Jr and Shoshana Bush – performed in line with expectations but continued the downward box office trend for its genre.

  • Among holdover releases, Paramount’s Star Trek grossed an estimated $29.4m over four days from 4,053 theatres (average - $$7,254), for a domestic total so far of $191m. Its Friday to Saturday estimated gross of $22m was down 49% from last weekend.
  • Sony’s Angels & Demons, which opened top last weekend, took an estimated $27.7m over four days from 3,527 theatres (average - $7,854), for a total of $87.8m. Its Friday to Sunday tally of $21.4m represented a drop of 54% from last weekend.
  • Next weekend’s wide releases are: Disney Pixar animation Up, distributed by Buena Vista, with Pete Docter directing and Ed Asner heading the voice cast; and Mandate Pictures horror flick Drag Me To Hell, with Sam Raimi directing and Universal distributing.

Estimated Top 10 North America May 22-25 2009

Film (Dist)/Int’l dist/Est wkd gross/Est total to date

1 (-) Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Fox) Fox Int’l $70m

2 (-) Terminator Salvation (Warner Bros) SPRI $53.8m $67.2m

3 (2) Star Trek (Paramount) PPI $29.4m $191m

4 (1) Angels & Demons (Sony) SPRI $27.7m $87.8m

5 (-) Dance Flick (Paramount) PPI $13.1m

6 (3) X-Men Origins: Wolverine(Fox) Fox Int’l $10.1m $165.4m

7 (4) Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past(Warner Bros) New Line Int’l $4.8m $47m

8 (5) Obsessed (Sony) SPRI $2.5m $66.4m

9 (7) Monsters Vs Aliens(DreamWorks Animation-Paramount) PPI $1.9m $193.5m

10 (6) 17 Again (Warner Bros) WBPI $1.3m $60.6m