"X-Men" stands tall at holiday box office with $120.1 million

The superhero epic "X-Men: The Last Stand" proved magnetic over the Memorial Day weekend, taking in $120.1 million (Ђ93.85 million), the biggest opening ever for the U.S. holiday.

Preliminary estimates also gave the latest installment of the comic book franchise the fourth best three-day opening ever and the best single Friday in movie history with a gross of $45.5 million (Ђ35.56 million).

The film's box office was the second-biggest one-day gross ever after last year's "Star Wars: Episode III."

The movie exceeded expectations, including those of 20th Century Fox, which released it.

"Wow," said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution at 20th Century Fox. "It blew my expectations away. It's rarefied air."

The film was embraced by audiences despite mixed reviews and fears about what would happen to the franchise when director Brett Ratner, best known for the buddy-comedy "Rush Hour" movies, took over the from Bryan Singer, who is directing this year's "Superman Returns."

The movie's climactic tale of a drug company developing a "cure" the mutants appealed across the board.

"There was something for everybody to relate to," Snyder said. "That's what makes 'X-Men' crackle as it does. Everyone has these feelings of being a little bit different."

While moviegoers flocked to see the exploits of mutants such as Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), they also came out to support the two other big summer films, the religious thriller "The Da Vinci Code" and the animated family film "Over the Hedge."

"Da Vinci," starring Tom Hanks, was the second-highest grossing film of the four-day weekend with $43 million (Ђ33.6 million), down 56 percent from last week's impressive opening weekend.

The DreamWorks Animation film "Over the Hedge" took in $35.3 million (Ђ27.58 million), down 30 percent from last weekend.

This year's box office revenue for the top 12 films is running about 6 percent of last year and with potential blockbusters on the horizon, such as the Pixar Animation film "Cars" and "Superman Returns," the industry is poised for a spectacular summer.

"I think this puts to bed the notion that people don't want to go to movies anymore," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"The combination of 'Da Vinci Code' and 'X-Men' proves that people really love to go to the movies, especially in the summer," reports AP.

O.Ch.