Universal's gamble to acquire the Hellboy franchise after Revolution Studios released the 2004 original got off to a good start as Hellboy II: The Golden Army launched at number one on an estimated $35.9m.

Sony's Hancock slipped to second place while New Line's classic adventure tale Journey To The Centre Of The Earth opened well in third on $20.6m and Fox's Eddie Murphy comedy Meet Dave flopped in seventh on $5.3m.

Overall box office dropped 16% against the same weekend last year when Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix launched on $77.4m. The top 12 pictures this weekend accounted for $145m.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army stars Ron Perlman as Dark Horse Comic's infernal creation on a quest to save Earth from monsters. Selma Blair and Doug Jones also star.

Guillermo del Toro's fantasy action sequel pushed Sony's superhero tale Hancock starring Will Smith off its perch as last weekend's champion added $33m for $165m.

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth stars Brendan Fraser and insiders said approximately 30% of theatres screened it in 3D after their locations were equipped by RealD. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth is the first release to have been authored in 3D and audiences clearly wanted to sample the experience: the 3D venues accounted for roughly 57% of the domestic gross.

Paramount's Kung Fu Panda in eighth place crossed $200m in its sixth weekend and stands at $202m. Buena Vista/Pixar's Wall-E in fourth added $18.5m for $162.8m in its third weekend, while Universal's Wanted in fifth grossed 411.6m for $112m after three.

Next weekend's wide releases are: Warner Bros' The Dark Knight starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine and Aaron Eckhart; Universal's musical adaptation Mamma Mia! with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan; and Fox' animated family release Space Chimps.

Estimated Top 10 North America Jul 11-13, 2008
Film (Dist)/Int'l dist/Est wkd gross/Est total to date

1 (-) Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) UPI $35.9m -
2 (1) Hancock (Sony) SPRI $33m $165m
3 (-) Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (New Line) NLI $20.6m -
4 (2) Wall-E (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $18.5m $162.8m
5 (3) Wanted (Universal) UPI $11.6m $112m
6 (4) Get Smart (Warner Bros) WBPI $7.1m $111.5m
7 (-) Meet Dave (Fox) Fox Int'l $5.3m -
8 (5) Kung Fu Panda (Paramount) PPI $4.3m $202m
9 (8) Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl $2.4m $11m
10 (7) Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (Paramount)
PPI $2.3m $310.5m