Los Angeles — Moviegoers gave their blessing to the "The Da Vinci Code" over the weekend, spending an estimated $77 million to see the Tom Hanks religious thriller.
While the film didn't set a domestic box office record, it was the largest weekend opening of the year so far and became the second largest worldwide release after "Star Wars: Episode III." It garnered some $224 million worldwide, according to Sony Pictures.
The movie's performance, combined with the family film "Over the Hedge" debuting in second place with $37.2 million, was a welcome contrast to the last two weekends that saw disappointing results from "Poseidon" and "Mission: Impossible III."
The total box office was down about 2.8 percent from the same weekend last year, according to studio estimates released Sunday. But that's a tough comparison given that last year's numbers included the record-setting debut of "Star Wars: Episode III."
"'Da Vinci' opening this big just tells you that people do want to go to the movies, they just need the right movie to go," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
The film received mixed reviews and protesters picketed outside a number of theaters, upset over the story's suggestion that Jesus Christ was married and had a child. But the controversy did little to deter moviegoers, who packed theaters in almost every country the film debuted.
The animated film "Over the Hedge" had a strong showing with its $37.2 million as part of a counter-programming strategy from distributor Paramount Pictures. While the opening was slightly low for a computer-animated family movie, the studio believes the film will hold its own next weekend as children have the Memorial Day holiday off.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters:
1. "The Da Vinci Code," $77 million.
2. "Over the Hedge," $37.2 million
3. "Mission: Impossible III," $11 million.
4. "Poseidon," $9.2 million.
5. "RV," $5.1 million
6. "See No Evil," $4.4 million
7. "Just My Luck," $3.4 million.
8. "An American Haunting," $1.7 million.
9. "United 93," $1.4 million.
10. "Akeelah and the Bee," $1 million.