Dave Karger
November 21, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Nicolas Cage tried to steal something other than the Declaration of Independence this weekend: the No. 1 spot at the box office, that is. And he succeeded.

Cage’s heist thriller National Treasure premiered with $35.3 million in its first three days, easily marking a career best opening for Cage, whose four previous top openings (Gone in 60 Seconds, The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off) all grossed between $23 and $25 million in their first weekends.

Also opening impressively was The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which earned $33.5 million. That’s more than the $30.6 million The Polar Express grossed in its first FIVE days last week.

Faced with such tough animated competition, Pixar’s The Incredibles took a big hit, falling 47 percent in its third weekend to $26.8 million, bringing its total to $177.8 million. The Polar Express, meanwhile, slipped a smaller 35 percent in its second weekend to $15.2 million.

And Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason capitalized on its increased theater count to earn $10.1 million in its second weekend of release. In Reneé Zellweger’s case, looks like it helped to be made of actual flesh and blood.

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