HOLLYWOOD, July 28 (UPI) -- The opening of "Austin Powers in Goldmember" easily dominated the nation's box office with an estimated $71.5 million at 3,613 theaters for the Friday-Sunday period, studio sources said Sunday.
New Line's third version of its Mike Myers' spy spoof performed in line with expectations following a massive publicity campaign stressing the unique cast of characters and the large numbers of jokes. "The timing is perfect for a big summer movie that delivers on its promises," said industry analyst Arthur Rockwell of Rockwell Capital Management.
The forecasts for "Goldmember" had been set at the high end due to the surprisingly impressive numbers generated in 1999 by "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," which opened with $57.4 million and wound up its run with $205.4 million. Rockwell said "Goldmember" is likely to pull in solid numbers for the rest of the summer.
"The market has been primed for this movie," he added. "You couldn't get away from it if you were a moviegoer."
The opening was the sixth largest in U.S. box office history, trailing only "Spider-Man" with $114.8 million, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" with $92.7 million, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" with $90.3 million, "Star Wars Episode 2 -- Attack of the Clones" with $80 million and "Pearl Harbor" with $75.2 million.
But the rest of the slate posted only moderate numbers with DreamWorks' third weekend of "Road to Perdition" in second with $11 million at 2,250 theaters, pushing its 17-day total to $65.6 million. That was enough to edge Sony's second weekend of "Stuart Little 2" with $10.7 million at 3,282 sites, giving the expensive sequel a disappointing $34.8 million after 10 days.
Sony's other sequel, "Men In Black 2," followed in fourth with $8.7 million at 3,542 locations as its total soared to $173.6 million, or $78 million short of the final total for the 1997 original.
Paramount's second weekend of "K-19: The Widowmaker" continued to post downbeat numbers in fifth with $7.3 million at 2,830 theaters as the pricey submarine adventure saw its 10-day total reach just $25 million.
The weekend's other new entry, Disney's theme-park-attraction-turned-comedy "The Country Bears," finished with an unimpressive sixth place rank with $5.2 million at 2,553 sites. "It seemed as if 'The Country Bears' was a little bit of overkill for the family market and the concept seemed a little fuzzy," said Rockwell, noting that "Stuart Little 2," opened only the week before.
Sony's fifth weekend of "Mr. Deeds" followed in seventh with $4.2 million at 2,309 screens to lift its 31-day figure to $116.1 million.
A trio of films battled for the final three spots in the top 10, led by Disney's third weekend of "Reign of Fire" with $3.3 million at 2,005 locations, followed by 20th Century Fox's sixth weekend of "Minority Report" with $3.1 million at 1,365 sites and IFC's art-house hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with $3 million at 569 sites to lift its 15-week total to $35.4 million.
With no standouts beyond "Goldmember," overall business was off for the weekend as the top 10's total of $128 million fell $12 million short of the year-ago period, when "Planet of the Apes" opened with $68.5 million. Year-to-date grosses have hit $5.35 billion, an impressive 16 percent ahead of the same time last year.
Box office should remain robust next weekend with Disney's opening of mystery-adventure "Signs," with Mel Gibson exploring crop circles. Also opening will be Sony's comedy "Mast of Disguise" with Dana Carvey and Paramount's "Martin Lawrence Live" concert movie.
On the art-house circuit, Focus' opening of the Robert Evans documentary "The Kid Stays in the Picture" grossed a strong $88,799 at four theaters. Paramount Classics' comedy "Who is Cletis Tout?" took in a moderate $67,000 at 19 sites while Sony Classics opening of comedy "Happy Times" performed well with $34,575 at six screens.