Warner Bros' family sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed ushered in a new number one at theweekend - not to mention another film featuring a colon and a lengthy title -as it opened on an estimated $30.7m.
Buena Vista's remake The Ladykillers opened second on $13m, a record bow fora film directed by the Coen Brothers, while Miramax's romantic comedy JerseyGirl opened fifth on$8.3m.
The Passion Of The Christ continued to cut a swathe through the box office despiteslipping one place to third, adding $13m for a $315m running total in its fifthweek.
The picture looks good to build on its astounding gross given thatUS distributor Newmarket Films has already sold out advance ticket allocationsfor Easter weekend from Apr 9-11.
In Scooby-Doo 2, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr and Matthew Lillardreprise their roles as the young crime-fighters assisted by a computergenerated Scooby who this time must thwart a mischievous plot hatched by amasked villain and his ghost machine.
It averaged $9,282 average from 3,312 sites and drew averagereviews. Raja Gosnell directed and the picture also stars Lina Cardinelli. The2002 original opened on $54.2m in the summer and went on to gross $153.3m.
In The Ladykillers, a remake of the 1955 Ealing comedy, Tom Hanks leads an ineptteam of thieves who try to kill a redoubtable old lady who discovers one oftheir plots.
Marlon Wayans and Greg Grunberg also star in the picture, whichreceived mixed reviews and averaged $8,212 from 1,583 venues.
Jersey Girl averaged $5,462 from 1,520 sites and was on the receiving end offairly mediocre reviews. Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler star as star-crossed loversand the picture was unencumbered by the presence of Jennifer Lopez, whosecharacter exits the story fairly early on.
"We're off to the races," Rick Sands, chief operating officer ofUS distributor Miramax, told Screendaily.com. "It's a nice piece ofcounter-programming considering the heavy-hitters coming up and it's a greatdate movie."
Sands said the picture will expand into a further 350 screens onFriday and a further 350-500 the following week.
Elsewhere Universal/Strike's horror remake and last week's numberone picture Dawn Of The Dead fell three places to fourth, adding $10.3m for $43.9m in itssecond week.
Buena Vista's Starsky & Hutch slipped three places to seventh in itsfourth week on $6.3m for a $76.9m running total.
Fox Searchlight's drama Never Die Alone, starring DMX as a gangster and DavidArquette as the reporter who investigates his death, opened in 11th place on$3.1m. The movie was a pick-up from production outfit ContentFilm.
Ernest Dickerson directed the drama, which averaged $2,650 from1,160 sites and drew so-so reviews.
Overall box office for the top 12 titles was $110m, up 26% fromthe same period last year.
Next weekend's wide releases include the Dreamworks comedy Envy starring the ubiquitous Ben Stiller andJack Black; Buena Vista's animated feature Home On The Range starring the vocal talents of CubaGooding Jr and Sarah Jessica Parker; Paramount's romance The Prince And Me starring Julia Stiles and Luke Mably;and MGM's Walking Tall,which stars The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) and Neal McDonough.
Estimated Top Ten US Mar 26-28 2004
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekendgross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $30.7m -
2 (-) The Ladykillers (Buena Vista) BVI $13m -
3 (2) The Passion Of The Christ (Newmarket) Icon International $12.5m$315m
4 (1) Dawn Of The Dead (Universal) Strike/UIP $10.3m $43.9m
5 (-) Jersey Girl (Miramax) Miramax Intl $8.3m -
6 (3) Taking Lives (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $6.5m $21.7m
7 (4) Starsky & Hutch (Warner Bros) Warner Bros/BVI $6.3m $76.9m
8 (6) Hidalgo (Buena Vista) BVI $5.4m $56.5m
9 (7) Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Focus Features) Focus Features $5.4m$16.7m
10 (5) SecretWindow (Columbia) CTFDI$5.4m $40.7m