Mulitplexes ahoy! Legions of swashbucklers lined up to see ''Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl'' this weekend, as the Disney theme-park-ride-inspired film claimed the top spot at the box office with $46.4 million, according to studio estimates.
''Pirates'' earned another $24 million last Wednesday and Thursday, so its five-day opening tally is an impressive $70.4 million, just $2 million shy of ''Terminator 3'''s five-day take last weekend. Credit ''Pirates''' teen-friendly PG-13 rating, and the combined star power of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. Stronger-than-expected reviews and audience response also helped, and should keep the film afloat for the next few weeks as well.
Far behind in second place was the week's other big new release, ''The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,'' another period action film. ''LXG,'' costarring Sean Connery and Shane West, managed a $23.3 million debut, about half of ''Pirates''' booty over the same three-day period.
Last week's top film, ''Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,'' fell 55 percent as expected to $19.6 million in its second weekend, bringing its two-week total to a decent $110.5 million. At this rate, it's doubtful ''T3'' will top ''T2'''s $205 million take. And ''Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde'' also dipped as predicted, slipping 45 percent to $12 million. With its two-week total now at $62.9 million, this sequel will also have trouble matching the success ($97 million) of its predecessor.
But ''Finding Nemo'' continued its incredible run, falling only 26 percent to $8.2 million in its seventh week. It's actually the first weekend the family smash didn't see a gross in the double digits, but the animated film still stands as the year's No. 1 release so far with $290.8 million. Can it dethrone ''The Lion King'' ($312.9 million) as the top animated grosser ever? We'll know in a few weeks.