LOS ANGELES – The comic-book adaptation "Ghost Rider" burned the competition at the weekend box office, fending off a rush of new movies to rake in $19.7 million in its second week, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Sony film starring Nicolas Cage as a motorcycle stuntman turned Satanic bounty hunter continued its momentum after debuting last week with $52 million over the four-day President's Day weekend, the biggest opening ever for that holiday.
"It set the bar so high last weekend that for any newcomers, it was going to be real tough film to beat," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
The other new movies included the 20th Century Fox police spoof "Reno 911!: Miami," which opened at No. 4 with $10.4 million and "The Astronaut Farmer," which debuted at No. 9 with $4.5 million. The Warner Bros. film stars Billy Bob Thornton as an ex-NASA astronaut who struggles to build his own rocket.
Disney's "Bridge to Terabithia," based on the children's fantasy novel, slipped to third place with $13.6 million, lifting its total to $46.2 million. Dreamworks' Eddie Murphy comedy "Norbit" rounded out the top five with $9.7 million.
Despite bad reviews, "Ghost Rider" lifted Hollywood out of its box-office slump, with revenues up for the second straight week this year. The top-12 movies grossed $101.8 million, up 1.5 percent from the same weekend last year. However, movie attendance to date this year is down 2.2 percent.
"Ghost Rider" is based on the Marvel Comic books about motorcycle stunt driver Johnny Blaze, played by Cage, who sells his soul to the devil and gains fiery superpowers.
"It's an accessible movie to everyone," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "Not only does it have action and special effects, it also has a tremendous sense of humor to it."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Ghost Rider," $19.7 million.
2. "The Number 23," $15.1 million.
3. "Bridge to Terabithia," $13.6 million.
4. "Reno 911!: Miami" $10.4 million.
5. "Norbit," $9.7 million.
6. "Music & Lyrics," $8 million.
7. "Breach," $6.2 million
8. "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, $5.3 million.
9. "The Astronaut Farmer," $4.5 million.
10. "Amazing Grace," $4.3 million.