''The Christ'' has risen to the top of the box office for a third week in a row. Mel Gibson's ''The Passion of the Christ'' earned another $31.7 million this weekend, according to studio estimates, placing the film in the top 25 grossers of all time.
Slipping 41 percent from last weekend, ''The Passion'' has now grossed $264 million domestically, making it No. 23 on the all-time list, ahead of ''Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'' ($262 million) and just behind ''Shrek'' ($267.7 million). By next week it will have topped ''The Matrix Reloaded'' ($281.6 million) as the highest-grossing R-rated film. At this rate, ''The Passion'' could very well end up earning over $350 million in its initial release, becoming one of the seven most successful films ever.
Johnny Depp's thriller ''Secret Window'' had to settle for second place, premiering with $19 million, behind the $23.4 million debut of his last film, ''Once Upon A Time in Mexico.'' Mostly poor reviews didn't help bring in audiences beyond Depp's core supporters.
Third place went to ''Starsky & Hutch,'' which fell 43 percent to $16 million, followed by Viggo Mortensen's ''Hidalgo,'' which slipped 39 percent to $11.7 million. After 10 days, the two films have earned $51.5 million and $35.5 million, respectively.
Coming exactly one year after the first Cody Banks film, Frankie Muniz's ''Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London'' opened with only $8 million, compared to $14.1 million for its predecessor, which premiered in hundreds more theaters. But at least it performed better than Val Kilmer's drama ''Spartan,'' which couldn't even manage $2,500 per theater, debuting with a poor $2 million.
The big question now: Can ''The Passion'' match ''The Return of the King'' and make it four weeks in a row at No. 1? New releases ''Taking Lives'' and ''Dawn of the Dead'' will be its stiffest competition yet, but anything could happen.