Somewhere, some studio executive is trying to figure out how to do a sequel to ''The Passion of the Christ.'' Mel Gibson's lightning rod of a film grossed another $51.4 million this weekend, according to studio estimates.
That's only a 39 percent drop from ''The Passion'''s $83.8 million debut, and brings its two-week total to an unbelievable $212 million. As of now, ''The Passion of the Christ'' stands as the No. 48 top-grossing film of all time, just behind ''Austin Powers in Goldmember'''s $213.3 million. (Bet you never thought you'd read the words ''Christ'' and ''Goldmember'' in the same sentence.) Before long, ''The Passion'' will outgross Gibson's most successful film as an actor, ''Signs,'' which earned $228 million in 2002.
Far behind in second place was Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson's update of ''Starsky & Hutch,'' which still opened impressively with $29.1 million, helped in part by the comedy duo's knee-slapping appearance on the Oscar telecast. That figure is just above the debut of Stiller's recent comedy ''Along Came Polly,'' which premiered with $27.7 million just seven weeks ago.
The weekend's other new wide release, ''Hidalgo,'' also opened well, with $19.6 million. The period drama, starring Viggo Mortensen, certainly got a boost from all the hype afforded to Mortensen's other recent project (you might have heard of it -- something involving a ring and a king).
Rounding out the top five, as expected, were ''50 First Dates,'' which slipped 39 percent to $7.7 million, and Ashley Judd's ''Twisted,'' which fell 44 percent to $5 million. After four weeks, ''Dates,'' starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, has earned $99.4 million. Two million bucks per date? Not bad at all.