With a jaw-dropping $70.1 million debut, The Mummy Returns came and conquered not only all its weekend competition, but several impressive box-office records. And, of course, the action-adventure sequel ushered in the 2001 summer moviegoing season quite nicely, too.
We didn't see anyone camping out for The Mummy Returns, but astonishingly, the sequel to 1999's The Mummy, which was itself a surprise hit, out-earned Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace ($64.8 million) as the biggest non-holiday debut in movie history.
"What we have is lightning in a bottle … and it's a really good way to start the summer movie season," Peter Adee, Universal's president of marketing, told Reuters.
The Stephen Sommers-directed sequel also set records for individual Friday and Saturday takes, $23.4 million and $26.8 million, respectively.
Jurassic Record Still Holds The Lost World: Jurassic Park is still the best overall opening weekend champ; it debuted with $72 million during the Memorial Day holiday weekend in May 1997. Its sequel, Jurassic Park III, stands a chance of beating that record when it debuts later this year.
Mummy a Bona Fide FranchiseThe Mummy, an amped-up spin on the classic Universal horror series, took the industry by surprise two years ago when it opened with $43.4 million, so much so that none of its leads had any deals in place for the quickly green-lit sequel. However, Brendan Fraser was glad to reprise his role as the Indiana Jones-like adventurer Rick O'Connell. Also returning for the sequel are Rachel Weisz, Oded Fehr, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, and Patricia Velasquez, while wrestling star The Rock made his film debut as an Egyptian warrior. Universal is already at work on a Mummy spinoff starring The Rock, called The Scorpion King, but there are currently no plans for a third Mummy film.
Stallone Driven to Distant Second Meanwhile, last weekend's top film, the Sylvester Stallone auto-racing thriller Driven, slipped to a very distant No. 2 with $6.1 million, taking its 10-day haul to $21.6 million. A spokesman for Warner Bros. predicts that it will max out in the mid-$30 million range.
Spy Kids, which came in at fourth place this weekend with $4 million, now stands at $98.5 million after 38 days. The family film will pass the $100 million mark by next weekend and end up near $110 million, said a Dimension spokesman.
Satisfied Mummy fans — 90 percent of moviegoers gave it an "excellent" or "very good rating" and 70 percent said they would "definitely recommend" it to their friends — may guarantee another week at No. 1 for the horror movie update. Next week, it goes up against the modernized jousting action film A Knight's Tale.
Reuters contributed to this story.
The Top 10 films for May 4-6 2001: 1. The Mummy Returns, $70.1 million 2. Driven, $6.1 million 3. Bridget Jones's Diary, $6 million 4. Spy Kids, $4 million 5. Along Came a Spider, $3.8 million 6. Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, $3.2 million 7. Blow, $2.4 million 8. The Forsaken, $1.5 million 8. (tie) Joe Dirt, $1.5 million 10. One Night at McCool's, $1.3 million