After months of hype thesummer season got underway in fine style over the weekend as Universal's VanHelsing opened top on an estimated $54.2m, brushing aside the Olsen twinstheatrical lead debut New York Minute, which flopped in fourth on$6.2m.
Despite a slew of scathingreviews the $160m monster mash averaged a magnificent $15,165 from 3,575. HughJackman stars as the dashing monster slayer sent to Transylvania to battleDracula, Wolf Man and a host of other aberrations.
Kate Beckinsale, RichardRoxburgh and Shuler Hensley also star and the picture was directed by StephenSommers, whose previous hits The Mummy and The Mummy Returns openedon $43.4m in May 1999 and $68.1m in May 2001 respectively. Both were Universalreleases and went on to gross $155.4m and $202m.
Now all eyes will turn tothe second week to see if Van Helsing can reach $100m as executives havepredicted. It's going to have a fight on its hands: alarming drop-offs were oneof the defining features of last year's summer season and there will also beWarner Bros' Troy to contend with.
Van Helsing was the number one international picture at theweekend and grossed an estimated $53m from 41 countries, which combined withthe domestic for a $107.2m worldwide opening weekend.
New York Minute averaged a meagre $2,075 from 3,006 sites. Theadventure-lite opened to dire reviews and centres on former child video starsMary-Kate and Ashley Olsen - now the grand old age of 17 - as they tumblethrough a series of incidents on a day out in the Big Apple.
Eugene levy and AndreaMartin also star in Dennie Gordon's $30m follow-up to What A Girl Wants.
Predictably Paramount's MeanGirls was knocked from its top berth but demonstrated its quality with asecond place ranking and a $14m haul for $42.4m in its second week.
20th CenturyFox/New Regency's revenge saga Man On Fire slipped one place to third on$7.9m for $56m in its third week, while Columbia/Revolution's 13 Going On 30rounded out the top five on $5.5m for $42.6m after the same amount of time.
Miramax's Kill Bill Vol 2'stheatrical run is slowing down and the martial arts homage added $3m for $57.8min its fourth week.
Next weekend's wide releasesinclude Warner Bros' Iliad epic Troy, which stars Brad Pitt, Eric Bana,Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger; and Sony's romantic comedy Breakin' All TheRules starring Jamie Foxx, Gabrielle Union and Morris Chestnut.
Estimated Top Ten US Apr7-May 9 2004
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date
1 (-) Van Helsing (Universal)UIP $54.2m -
2 (1) Mean Girls (Paramount) UIP $14m $42.4m
3 (2) Man On Fire (Fox/New Regency) Fox International $7.9m $56m
4 (-) New York Minute (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $6.2m -
5 (3) 13 Going On 30(Columbia/Revolution) CTFDI $5.5m $42.6m
6 (4) Laws of Attraction (New Line) NLI $3.5m $11.9m
7 (7) Kill Bill Vol 1 (Miramax) BVI $3m $57.8m
8 (5) Godsend (Lions Gate) Lions GateInternational $2.7m $11.3m
9 (6) Envy (Dreamworks) CTFDI $2.6m $10.1m
10 (8) The Punisher (Lions Gate) Columbia TriStar $1.2m $32.1m