Los Angeles — The "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened, and Harry Potter has found a fortune inside.
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the second installment in the fantasy franchise based on J.K. Rowling's novels, took in $87.7 million, the third-best debut weekend ever, according to studio estimates Sunday.
"Chamber of Secrets" came in behind the record $114.8 million that "Spider-Man" grossed in its first three days last spring and the $90.3 million haul of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" a year ago.
Though "Chamber of Secrets" opened in a record 3,682 theaters on a record 8,515 screens, distributor Warner Bros. had not expected the movie to set revenue records. Anticipation had been greater for "Sorcerer's Stone" because it was the first big-screen adaptation of Rowling's tales, said Dan Fellman, Warner head of distribution.
Last weekend's No. 1 film, rapper Eminem's semi-autobiographical "8 Mile" dropped steeply after a huge debut. The movie came in at No. 2 with $21.3 million, down 58 percent from its opening weekend of $51.2 million and pushing its 10-day total to $86.4 million.
The weekend's only other new wide release, Steven Seagal's action thriller "Half Past Dead," opened in fifth place with $8.2 million.
The overall box office rose, with the top 12 movies grossing $165.2 million, up 8.5 percent from last year.
The year's surprise blockbuster, the low-budgeted romance "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," is expected to hit $200 million by Tuesday. The film was No. 6 over the weekend, grossing $4.7 million to lift its total to approximately $199.6 million.
The horror hit "The Ring" became the 17th movie of 2002 to top $100 million. The movie was No. 4 for the weekend with $11 million, raising its total to $101.6 million.
"Frida," Salma Hayek's film biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, expanded to more theaters and broke into the top 10 in its fourth weekend. The film grossed $2.9 million, coming in at No. 9.
Director Atom Egoyan's "Ararat" opened strongly in limited release, taking in $162,000 at five theaters for an impressive $32,400 average.
"Ararat" centers on an ensemble of contemporary characters to examine the legacy of Egoyan's Armenian heritage and the dispute over whether Turks were responsible for genocide against Armenians during World War I. Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed, but Turkey says the number is inflated and that Armenians were killed or displaced as the Ottoman Empire tried to quell civil unrest.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released today.
1. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," $87.7 million.
2. "8 Mile," $21.3 million.
3. "The Santa Clause 2," $15.1 million.
4. "The Ring," $11 million.
5. "Half Past Dead," $8.2 million.
6. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," $4.7 million.
7. "Jackass: The Movie," $4.03 million.
8. "I Spy," $4 million.
9. "Frida," $2.9 million.
10. "Sweet Home Alabama," $2.4 million.