‘X2’ Keeps No. 1 Spot at the Box Office

LOS ANGELES – Mutants preserved their power at the box office as “X2: X-Men United” remained the No. 1 movie, taking in $41.4 million in its second weekend.

Eddie Murphy (news)’s family comedy “Daddy Day Care,” in which he plays an out-of-work father who starts a toddler-tending business, opened in second place with $27.6 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

“X2,” the sequel based on the comic book about genetic mutants with superpowers, lifted its 10-day total to $149 million after an opening weekend of $85.6 million, the fourth best of all-time.

By Wednesday, “X2” should pass the $157.3 million that “X-Men” took in during its entire run three years ago, said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox, which released both movies.

The improved box office indicates fans of the comic books drove the first film, while its exposure since then through home video and TV airings has broadened the franchise’s appeal, Snyder said.

“It’s grown in stature, plus this one got the kind of reviews that drove more of an adult audience and a female audience to see it, people who might not normally go to see a comic-book-based story,” Snyder said.

The overall box office was down, with the top 12 movies grossing $103 million, off 11 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Spider-Man” continued to dominate theaters.

Murphy, whose early movie career was built on street-smart action comedies such as “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hrs.”, has bombed in his recent edgier flicks, including last year’s “Showtime,” I Spy” and “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”

His hits lately have come from family movies such as “The Nutty Professor,” “Doctor Dolittle” and their sequels.

“Eddie Murphy is Bill Cosby (news),” said Tom Sherak, a partner in Revolution Studios, which produced “Daddy Day Care” for Sony. “People who grew up with the edgy Eddie Murphy, they’re older now and parents, but they still want to see him. He’s not that urban kid any more, he’s a grown-up, a good father and family man, and he makes these movies that appeal to families.”

Opening “Daddy Day Care” over the family-friendly Mother’s Day weekend helped, and the studio avoided big head-to-head competition by sandwiching it between the opening weekends of “X2” and the upcoming “The Matrix Reloaded,” said Rory Bruer, Sony head of distribution.

“The Matrix Reloaded,” which debuts Thursday, is expected to top the $58 million opening weekend of “Hannibal,” the record-holder for R-rated movies. But the higher rating could make it tough for “Matrix Reloaded” to match the opening of “X2,” which is rated PG-13.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. “X2: X-Men United,” $41.4 million.

2. “Daddy Day Care,” $27.6 million.

3. “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” $7.8 million.

4. “Identity,” $6.3 million.

5. “Anger Management,” $5.5 million.

6. “Holes,” $4.6 million.

7. “A Mighty Wind,” $2.9 million.

8. “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” $2.1 million.

9. “Bend It Like Beckham,” $1.65 million.

10. “Confidence,” $1.5 million.