HOLLYWOOD, March 24 (UPI) -- The opening of action-adventure "Blade 2" edged animated comedy "Ice Age" with an estimated $33.1 million at 2,707 theaters during the Friday-Sunday period, studio sources said Sunday.
New Line's "Blade 2," with Wesley Snipes reprising his role as a half-human, half-vampire superhero, performed in line with expectations following a strong marketing campaign that highlighted the film's extensive battle scenes with vampires. The original opened in August 1998 with $17.1 million debut at 2,322 theaters and grossed $70.1 million by the end of its run.
20th Century Fox's second weekend of "Ice Age" finished a close second with $31.1 million at 3,345 theaters as it declined 32 percent from its opening. The computer-generated project has topped $88 million in 10 days and established Fox and partner Blue Sky Studios as significant players within the animation industry.
Universal's opening of its 20th anniversary edition of "E.T -- The Extraterrestrial," featuring extensive revamps by director Steven Spielberg, came in a distant but still solid third place with $15.1 million at 3,010 theaters. The original grossed $399.8 million, so the movie has now joined "Titanic," "Star Wars" and "Star Wars Episode 1" as the only films to top $400 million domestically.
The top three films should continue as significant draws for several more weeks with many young adults, teens and children on spring vacation.
overall business was robust with the three top films taking in nearly $80 million. The top 10 total came in at about $116 million -- or nearly double the $64 million in the same weekend last year when "Heartbreakers" led the box office with $11.8 million.
Warner Bros.' second weekend of action comedy "Showtime" finished fourth with $8.2 million at 2,917 locations to push its 10-day total to nearly $27 million as it topped the second weekend of "Resident Evil" with $6.6 million at 2,528 theaters. "Showtime" declined by 45 percent while "Evil" saw its audience fall by a disappointing 63 percent as the film version of the video game lost much of its potential audience to "Blade 2."
Paramount's fourth weekend of "We Were Soldiers" followed with $5.8 million at 2,809 theaters to give it nearly $62 million. Its first 24 days of performance show the continued appetite for military movies after "Behind Enemy Lines" and "Black Hawk Down."
DreamWorks third weekend of "The Time Machine" finished seventh with $5.2 million at 2,809 theaters as the fantasy-adventure dropped 52 percent from its second weekend. "Machine" has hit $48 million in 17 days.
Universal's 14th weekend of "A Beautiful Mind" continued to show significant drawing power as it moved up one spot to eighth with $4.3 million at 1,450 sites. The drama boosted its weekend gross by an impressive $900,000 in a reflection of status as a front-runner for tonight's Academy Awards.
"Mind" has taken in $154.9 million and reached 85th place on the all-time domestic list ahead of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."
Disney's opening of college comedy "Sorority Boys" rolled out unimpressively in ninth place with $4.2 million at 1,801 sites. Rounding out the top 10 was Miramax's fourth weekend of sex comedy "40 Days and 40 Nights" with $2.7 million at 1,631 theaters.
"Blade 2" and "Ice Age" face competition next weekend's openings of Sony's thriller "Panic Room," starring Jodie Foster, Disney's baseball drama "Rookie," starring Dennis Quaid, Paramount's fantasy comedy "Clockstoppers" and Warner's dark comedy "Death to Smoochy," starring Robin Williams.