LOS ANGELES -- The high score for the weekend belongs to Lara Croft. Her tally: $48.2 million.
That was the weekend take for Angelina Jolie's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," which opened at No. 1 with the best box-office debut ever for a movie based on a video game.
In second place was Disney's animated adventure "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." Featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox, "Atlantis" took in $20.4 million in its nationwide debut after playing for a week in New York City and Los Angeles.
It was a soft opening compared to Hollywood's last cartoon feature, DreamWorks' "Shrek," which opened a month ago with $42.3 million in its first three days.
"Shrek" held strong this weekend, taking third place with $12.9 million. At $197.2 million, "Shrek" passed "The Mummy Returns" as the year's top-grossing movie and is expected to top $200 million by the middle of this week.
Last weekend's top film, "Swordfish," fell to No. 4 with $12.2 million.
The crime thriller "Sexy Beast," starring Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone, opened strongly in limited release. The film grossed $180,695 in nine theaters in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto, averaging a whopping $20,077 a theater.
The overall box office was way up, with the top 12 movies grossing $127.9 million, a 30 percent increase over the same weekend last year.
Playing in 3,308 theaters, "Tomb Raider" averaged $14,571. "Atlantis" averaged $6,775 in 3,011 locations.
"Tomb Raider" follows Croft's exploits as she battles a secret society for possession of artifacts to control time. Critics generally trashed "Tomb Raider," though many praised Jolie's performance in the title role.
"Angelina was an absolutely superb choice," said Rob Friedman, vice chairman of the motion-picture group at Paramount, which released "Tomb Raider." "She was amazing in the role and worked harder than any person I've ever seen in physical fitness and on the set."
"Tomb Raider" easily topped the previous champ among video-game adaptations, "Pokemon: The First Movie," which debuted with $31 million in 1999.
The first "Tomb Raider" game was introduced in the mid-1990s, and the gun-toting, globe-hopping Croft quickly became a cultural sensation.
For the movie, Paramount sought to broaden Croft's video-game fan base with a marketing blitz of ads and TV specials.
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