X marked the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, as ''X2: X-Men United'' stormed into multiplexes and grossed a phenomenal $85.9 million in its first three days, according to studio estimates.
The ''X-Men'' sequel, starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart, sold enough tickets to score the fourth-biggest opening weekend ever, behind ''Spider-Man,'' which holds the record with $114.8 million, and the two ''Harry Potter'' films, which earned $90.3 million and $88.4 million. And it blew away the opening tally of the first ''X-Men,'' which grossed $54.5 million three summers ago. Sequels usually perform better than their predecessors, but not this much better.
What does this mean for ''X2'''s future? Well, the first film made 35 percent of its total gross in its first weekend. Even if ''X2'' has already earned 40 percent of its eventual total, that still means it'll end up in the $215 million range. In other words, a third ''X-Men'' seems likely. (Though since the title ''XXX'' has already been taken, they'll have to call it ''X3.'') ''X2'''s strong performance also cements the first weekend of May as the start of the Hollywood summer; last year, ''Spider-Man'' debuted the same weekend. After the box office slump of the last four months (down 12 percent from last year), the industry needed a hit like this badly.
As expected, ''The Lizzie McGuire Movie'' claimed second place (though a very distant second) with $17.1 million. With ''X2'' largely a male draw, Hilary Duff's legions of female fans were apparently excited to see their Disney Channel heroine on the big screen. The film made back its reported $15 million budget in just three days.
Last week's top three films each slipped two slots this week. The John Cusack thriller ''Identity'' fell 41 percent to $9.5 million, bringing its 10-day total to $30.3 million, while Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler's hit comedy ''Anger Management'' declined 43 percent to $8.5 million -- it now stands at $115.4 million. Even the family flick ''Holes'' dropped 48 percent to $6.5 million, increasing its total to $45 million. Looks like most kids ditched their parents for ''X2'' this weekend.