The numbers were all good for the alien-busting sequel, which opened Wednesday with $19 million, took in a further $16.9 million Thursday and then raked in $52.1 million from Friday to Saturday, according to final studio figures Monday--a record for the Independence Day holiday weekend.
The three-day weekend total zaps the previous July 4 holiday record $51 million scooped up by the original Men in Black in 1997 and gives star Will Smith his top-dollar opening ever.
Costarring Lara Flynn Boyle as the evil ET chased by slick suits Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, MIBII became the fifth number-one opener this year for distributing studio Sony. The PG-13-rated action fantasy debuted in 3,557 sites with a $14,661 per-screen average. (MIB--which received better reviews than its follow-up--debuted with a $16,910 average and eventually grossed more than $250 million.)
Sony also released the year's biggest hit, Spider-Man, which surpassed $400 million this weekend after 10 weeks in theaters. The studio is on target to pass the $1 billion domestic sales mark this week, much faster than the previous record, which the studio set in September 1997.
MIBII's arrival dropped Sony's last number one, Mr. Deeds, down to second place after a single week on top. Adam Sandler's rube-comes-into-money comedy fell off 49 percent to $18.4 million, bringing its two-week total to $74 million.
Meanwhile, Like Mike, the hoops flick starring miniature rapper Lil' Bow Wow, laid up in fifth place with $12.2 million between Friday and Sunday and $19 million since its Wednesday debut. The let's-try-to-broaden-the-appeal-of-the-NBA flick, a PG-rated Fox release, averaged $5,054 per its 2,410 sites.
The weekend's other major newcomer could have used some magic shoes, too. The Powerpuff Girls, the big-screen version of Cartoon Network's teeny-weeny girl crimefighters Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, had a teeny-weeny debut, opening in ninth place. The PG Warners release only managed $3.6 million from Friday through Sunday and $6.1 million since it opened Wednesday.
As anticipated, the arrival of MIBII helped boost the total box office, lifting grosses more than 8 percent from last weekend. The estimated $142 million total was also a solid 17 percent above this time last year when Cats & Dogs and Scary Movie 2 vied for number one with $21.7 million and $20.5 million, respectively.
Here is how the top 10 films lined up from Friday to Sunday, as compiled by tracking firm Exhibitor Relations from final studio tallies:
1. Men in Black II, $52.1 million
2. Mr. Deeds, $18.4 million
3. Lilo & Stitch, $12.63 million
4. Minority Report, $12.55million
5. Like Mike, $12.2 million
6. The Bourne Identity, $9.2 million
7. Scooby-Doo, $7 million
8. The Sum of All Fears, $3.7 million
9. The Powerpuff Girls, $3.6 million
10. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, $2.8 million
(Originally published 7/7/02 at 3:10 p.m. PT)