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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'Mummy Returns' to No. 1 -- the No. 2 Biggest Opening Ever -- With a Tomb-Smashing $70.1 Million

6 May, 2001 By: Ed Ochs

Packing 'em in like, well, mummies, Universal's The Mummy Returns not only dominated the pre-summer box office runway this weekend, but beat 1999's Star Wars Episode 1's record for the biggest non-holiday weekend opening ever with an estimated $70.1 million -- and almost caught the all-time biggest weekend opener in box office history, 1997's The Lost World with $72.1 million.

The next Mummy benchmark to watch for lies far beyond the $100 million mark, which the PG-13 effects-driven action movie will leave in the dust next weekend: The Mummy -- which opened on the same May weekend two years earlier with $43.4 million -- eventually grossed $155.3 million domestically and an earth-shaking $414 million worldwide.

The stunning debut of the The Mummy sequel does not guarantee that all summer sequels from here on in will be winners, but it does prove that, at least in Hollywood, mummies love the month ofMay. Avoiding the curse of The Mummy Returns, the other studios wisely calendared their big openings away from this release date. Good action-adventures are hard to beat, which is why there was no major challenge this weekend and Mummy had such an easy time taking over the box office. Nice touch wooing WWF fans, too, by topping the cast with The Rock as Scorpion King. He'll probably get his own Scorpion King movie out of this.

Having nothing to do with the high price of gasoline, Warner Bros.' Drivenseems to running out of fuel quickly, crossing the finish line the second time around the track at a telescopically distant No. 2 with $6.1 million -- a one-week wonder.

Outside of Spy Kids closing the weekend with a total gross to date of about $98.6 million, the performance of the rest of the top 10 can best be wrapped up in the dominance of The Mummy Returns -- literally. The tomb-hunting yarn starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz out-grossed all other movies in release, combined.

Now The Mummy Returns will enjoy a full three-week romp at the top before Pearl Harbor attacks on Memorial Day holiday weekend, the official start of summer. Until then, the returns are in, and it's Mummy by a millennium.

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