X marked the spot for 20th Century Fox over the weekend as the hugely anticipated comic book sequel X2: X-Men United raised the curtain on the summer season in spectacular style, storming to number one on an estimated $85.9m.
Bryan Singer's follow-up to his 2000 worldwide smash X-Men also grossed an astonishing $69.3m international bow for a $155.2m worldwide opening weekend. The film opened in 93 territories in what is the largest global launch ever staged by a distributor.
Both domestic and worldwide scores are already more than half their corresponding totals for the original, which finished on $157.3m and $294.3m respectively.
This weekend's domestic opening dwarfed the $54.5m recorded by the original three years ago and drew 14.3million viewers, some 4.2million more than X-Men.
X2 becomes the fourth highest opener of all time, behind Spider-Man ($114.8m, 2002), Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone ($90.3m, 2001) and Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets ($88.4m, 2002). It also scored the second highest May bow ever behind Spider-Man.
Opening in an unprecedented 3,741 theatres, beating the previous mark of 3,682 set by The Chamber Of Secrets, X2 averaged $22,948 and received excellent reviews.
The story boasts several new additions to the ranks - both good and evil - as Dr Charles Xavier's heroic warriors fight a dastardly plot to eliminate the world's mutants. Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and Famke Janssen returned tolead an all-star cast, with Alan Cumming among the newcomers. Fox and Marvel Studios joined forces on the $110m co-production, which cost considerably more than the original.
Elsewhere, Buena Vista's smart piece of counter-programming paid dividends as The Lizzie McGuire Movie opened second on a creditable $17m.
Aimed at the teen market and based around a popular television series that has scored with this demographic, the $25m Disney Channel spin-off follows the trials and tribulations of a young teenager as she is mistaken for a pop star while on a school trip to Italy.
Lizzie McGuire averaged $6,017 from 2,825 venues but failed to impress the critics. Hilary Duff stars along with Adam Lamberg, Ashlie Brillault and Clayton Snyder and the film was directed by Jim Fall.
Last week's number one opener, Columbia's serial killer thriller Identity, fell two places to third on $9.5m for a $30.3m running total. Stablemate Anger Management fell two to fourth, adding $8.5m for $115.4m in its fourth week.
The only new entry in the top 10 was Fox Searchlight's Bend It Like Beckham (handled for international sales by The Works), which climbed four places to ninth on $1.5m for a terrific $10.9m in its eighth week on release.
Overall the top 12 films grossed $140.8m, which represents a 7.6% drop compared to the same weekend last year - although that was the weekend when Spider-Man opened.
Next week's only major release is the Columbia/Revolution comedy Daddy Day Care, starring Eddie Murphy. Opening on limited release are Focus Features' The Shape Of Things, the Working Title-produced Neil LaBute drama which premiered at Sundance this year; and IDP's I Capture The Castle, based on Dodie Smith's acclaimed novel of love in 1930s England.
Estimated Top Ten US May 2-4, 2003
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) X2: X-Men United (Fox) Fox International $85.9m -
2 (-) The Lizzie McGuire Story (Buena Vista) BVI $17m -
3 (1) Identity (Columbia) CTFDI $9.5m $30.3m
4 (2) Anger Management (Columbia/Revolution) CTFDI $8.5m $115.4m
5 (3) Holes (Buena Vista) BVI $6.5m $45m
6 (4) Malibu's Most Wanted (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $4m $28.9m
7 (5) Confidence (Lions Gate) Lions Gate International $2.5m $8.5m
8 (9) It Runs In The Family (MGM) BVI $1.6m $5.1m
9 (13) Bend It Like Beckham (Fox Searchlight) The Works $1.5m $10.9m
10 (6) Bulletproof Monk (MGM) Lakeshore International $1.5m $21.6m