'Museum' tops 'Terminator' Friday


Fox's Ben Stiller comedy "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" looks likely to win the holiday weekend's boxoffice wars after prevailing in Friday skirmishes.

"Smithsonian" rung up an estimated $15.3 million on Friday to top all domestic competition including Warner Bros.' scifi actioner "Terminator Salvation," which registered $14.8 on the day. "Salvation" bowed Thursday with $13.4 million, yielding a $28.2 million cume through its first two days of release.

"Smithsonian" was a slight favorite headed into the Memorial Day-stretched frame to finish No. 1 among Friday-through-Monday match-ups. But as a PG-rated pic, the family-targeted release hadn't been expected to outpace "Salvation" in daily grosses until Saturday.

On the other hand, 11% of U.S. students aged 7 to 13 were off from school on Friday, and in some markets that percentage was as high as 50%. Those youngest moviegoers -- too young for "Salvation," with its PG-13 rating -- packed "Smithsonian" auditoriums and lifted its daily gross notably.
The modest Thursday-to-Friday uptick for "Salvation" casts doubt on whether the Sam Worthington-Christian Bale starrer can reach $70 million over its first five days as projected. "Salvation" is the fourth installment in the "Terminator" franchise and first in almost six years.

Sony holds most of the international distribution rights on "Salvation," which will open in the bulk of foreign territories in two weeks.

Sony's book-based thriller "Angels & Demons" -- starring Tom Hanks, directed by Ron Howard and co-produced by Imagine Entertainment -- ranked third among the Friday grossers with $6 million and a $66.1 million cume.

Paramount's scifi prequel "Star Trek" finished fourth with $5.8 million and a $190.1 million cume.

Par's comedy spoof "Dance Flick" from the Wayans brothers was fifth in the Friday rankings with a first-day tally of $3.9 million.