The ninja turtles are back, and they're winning. The Warner Bros. adventure "TMNT," a computer-animated update of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" comics, cartoons and 1990s live-action movies, debuted as the top weekend flick with $25.45 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Warner also had the second-place movie with "300," which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends. The battle epic set in ancient Greece took in $20.5 million, lifting its total to $162.4 million.
Paramount's "Shooter," starring Mark Wahlberg as an ex-Marine sniper framed for a presidential assassination, led the runners-up among a rush of new movies, opening at No. 3 with $14.5 million.
New Line's family fantasy "The Last Mimzy" premiered in fifth place with $10.2 million. The movie centers on a brother and sister who discover a mysterious box of toys and are endowed with superhuman powers to help them preserve humanity's future.
Fox Atomic's horror sequel "The Hills Have Eyes 2," about National Guard troops who stumble on a clan of mutant cannibals, opened at No. 7 with $10 million.
Adam Sandler had a soft debut for his latest dramatic detour, the post-Sept. 11 drama "Reign Over Me," which came in at No. 8 with $8 million. The Sony release features Sandler as a lost soul whose family died in the Sept. 11 attacks, with Don Cheadle co-starring as an old friend helping him to reconnect with the world.
Lionsgate's sports tale "Pride," starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac in the story of a coach who starts a swim team for impoverished black youths in the 1970s, opened with $4 million to come in at No. 9.
Hollywood continued a recent business upswing, with the top 12 movies taking in $125.7 million. That's up 28 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Inside Man" debuted at No. 1 with $29 million.
The upward trend likely will end next weekend. New movies that include Will Ferrell's comedy "Blades of Glory" and the animated feature "Meet the Robinsons" will have a hard time matching up to "Ice Age: The Meltdown," which opened with $68 million over the first weekend in April last year.
"We're on a roll and on an up streak right now, but it's going to be a real tough comparison for this weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
"TMNT" follows the escapades of four hip turtles who mutate into man-sized reptiles and use their martial-arts mastery to fight bad guys.
"It's sequel time, dudes," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co., which is distributing "TMNT" overseas. "We knew from the inception of this project that that the `TMNT' characters would continue to resonate with audiences across the world."
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. "TMNT," $25.45 million.
2. "300," $20.5 million.
3. "Shooter," $14.5 million.
4. "Wild Hogs," $14.4 million.
5. "The Last Mimzy," $10.2 million.
6. "Premonition," $10.1 million.
7. "The Hills Have Eyes 2," $10 million.
8. "Reign Over Me," $8 million.
9. "Pride," $4 million.
10. "Dead Silence," $3.5 million.