Many Americans decided to celebrate Independence Day by taking in another big effects film about an alien invasion. Steven Spielbergs War of the Worlds earned an estimated $77.6 million over the weekend, bringing its gross to around $113 million since opening last Wednesday. Distributed by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, this latest retelling of the classic H.G. Wells sci-fi yarn featuring visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic also dominates the overseas box office, having earned more than $102 million in 78 countries.
Warner Bros. Batman Begins posted a distant second with an estimated take of $18.6 million over the holiday weekend. The expensive superhero actioner about the genesis of DC Comics Dark Knight is in the black with a three-week domestic draw of approximately $154 million and another $114 million overseas. Eventual home video sales alone should guarantee a continuation of the franchise as producers gear up to put sequels in the pipeline.
Now four weeks out of the gate, Mr. and Mrs. Smith from 20th Century Fox is still alive an kicking in third place. The Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie action vehicle added approximately $12.7 million to its domestic take, which stands at an estimated $146 million. Sonys modern update of Bewitched follows $10.8 million, bringin its two-week cume to around $40.3 million, less than half of its reported budget.
Earning around $10.5 million over the weekend, Disneys kid pic, Herbie: Fully Loaded, edged out DreamWorks animated Madagascar for a top-five spot. Madagascar settles for No. 6 with an estimated $7 million and a six-week total nearing $172.5 million.
With War of the Worlds doing bang-up business at the box office, Universal Pictures announced today that Spielberg has begun production on his yet untitled historical pic focused on the massacre of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
While the holiday period saw no wide-release challengers for Spielbergs latest epic, that will change this coming weekend as 20th Century Fox releases its big-screen adaptation of Marvel Comics Fantastic Four. The superhero effects feast features work by Soho VFX, Meteor Studios, Giant Killer Robots, Stan Winston Digital, CobaltFX, Pacific Title, CaféFX, Hydraulx, Pixel Magic, Kleiser-Walczak, SW Digital, CIS Hollywood.