Terminator 3:Rise Of The Machines,the most expensive independently financed movie of all time, paid off for itsbackers Intermedia and parent company IM Internationalmedia AG with anestimated $44.1m opening in the Friday to Sunday period and a total of $72.5msince its first previews last Tuesday night.

The $175m epicsci-fi actioner which is produced by Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar of C2 Pictureswith Intermedia and Hal Lieberman was the box office champion of the holidayweekend for domestic distributor Warner Bros and is the second highest R-ratedopening of all time after Warner's own The Matrix Reloaded earlier this year. Its three day openingplaces it third after Reloaded and Hannibal.

The movie, whichwas directed by Jonathan Mostow and received generally favourable reviews, wasthe biggest July 4 opening for an R-rated film and the biggest for a moviestarring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian superstar plays a terminator sentback in time to protect John Connor (Nick Stahl) from the powerful T-X(Kristanna Loken) which has been sent to kill him.

The first Terminator movie opened through Orion on Oct 261984 and grossed $34m in total domestically. However its cult status andenduring popularity paved the way for Terminator 2: Judgment Day which opened for TriStar/Carolco on July3, 1991, with $52.3m in five days and $31.8m in three. Both of the first filmswere directed by James Cameron, who passed on the third picture.

T3 took $4m on its Tuesday night previewscreenings, $12.5m on Wednesday, $12m on Thursday, $13m on Friday, $17.87m onSaturday and an estimated $13m on Sunday. The film played at 3,504 sites.

Internationaldistribution on T3 ishandled by Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International which opened T3 day and date in four territories overthe weekend - Russia, Colombia,Bolivia and Uruguay - and grossed $3.8m. The film scored the second biggestopening of all time in Russia behind Reloaded taking $3m on 252 prints.

Another sequel -MGM's Legally Blonde 2: Red, White And Blonde - also opened on Wednesday in NorthAmerica and took $39.2m in the five-day period, $22.9m of that in the threedays Fri to Sun. The movie, which sees Reese Witherspoon return as Bel Airsorority girl Elle Woods, beat the $20.3m opening of the first Legally Blonde in July 2001. That film ended upgrossing $96.5m and was a huge hit on video subsequently.

The movie, whichwas directed by Kissing Jessica Stein director Charles Herman Wurmfeld, sees Elle journey fromBoston to Washington DC to fight against animal testing in cosmetics. She isjoined by original castmembers including Jennifer Coolidge and Luke Wilson aswell as newcomers Sally Field and Bob Newhart. At least 70% of the audience wasfemale according to the studio.

The thirdIndependence Day opener, DreamWorks' animated Sinbad: Legend Of The SevenSeas was a flop withjust $10m in five days and $6.8m in the three day weekend period. The movie,which features the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and MichellePfeiffer, is an adventure about the voyage by Sinbad to the dark kingdom ofTartarus to find the stolen Book of Life.

Meanwhile lastweek's wide opener Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle tumbled 62% to bring its total to$67.2m, a drop for the sequel which opened to an underperforming $38m.

Full Throttlenow eclipses The Hulk asthe summer's biggest disappointment. The Hulk dropped another 56% in its third weekendto take $8.2m and bring its total to $117m.

Box office was down again, some 9% on the same weekend last year,marking the fourth consecutive weekend it has been inferior. Last year's July 4weekend which saw the opening of Men In Black II was the biggest of all time, and the boxoffice should look up next weekend with the opening of Disney's familyadventure Pirates Of The Caribbean and Fox's fantasy actioner The League Of ExtraordinaryGentlemen.

The summer'sbiggest success story this weekend became the summer's biggest hit. FindingNemo, which is showingthe kind of longevity other studios can only envy, dropped just 21% to take$11m in its sixth weekend and bring its total to $274.9m. It has now overtaken TheMatrix Reloaded as theyear's biggest grosser and also overtaken Shrek as the biggest 3-D animated picture ofall time.

Opening well onlimited release was Focus Features' Swimming Pool, the Francois Ozon-directed thrillerwhich played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The film,which stars Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier, is mostly in English andgrossed $286,000 in just 13 theatres over three days and $376,000 over fivedays (it opened Wednesday). Its three-day screen average was $22,308.

Estimated TopTen US July 4-6

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

1 (-) Terminator3: Rise Of The Machines(Warner Bros) Columbia TriStar $44.1m $72.5m

2 (-) LegallyBlonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (MGM) 20th Century Fox $22.9m $39.2m

3 (1) Charlie'sAngels: Full Throttle(Columbia) Columbia TriStar $14.2m $67.2m

4 (3) FindingNemo (Disney/Pixar) BVI$11m $274.9m

5 (2) TheHulk (Universal) UIP$8.2m $117m

6 (-) Sinbad:Legend Of The Seven Seas(DreamWorks) UIP $6.8m $10m

7 (4) 28 DaysLater (Fox Searchlight)Fox International $6.1m $20.7m

8 (7) TheItalian Job (Paramount)UIP $4.3m $84m

9 (5) BruceAlmighty (Universal)Spyglass/BVI $4m $228.7m

10 (6) 2 Fast2 Furious (Universal)UIP $2.4m $119.3m