‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ storms to record opening

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – “X-Men: The Last Stand” stormed to an estimated $107 million three-day opening, the largest ever for Memorial Day weekend and the fourth-biggest in box office history.

Preliminary estimates were released Sunday for the third installment of the series featuring a cast of mutants with names like Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn).

The 20th Century Fox film opened in 3,690 theaters and grossed a whopping $28,997 per theater.

“People had such a huge awareness of the movie that it just translated into these huge numbers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The film benefited from a huge base of fans who had seen the first two “X-Men” films, plus great marketing and solid reviews, Dergarabedian said.

“This is what the summer is all about,” he said, adding the box office has rebounded well since last year’s slump. “With “Da Vinci Code’ doing better than anticipated … we could not be in a better position.”

Estimates for “The Da Vinci Code” over the start of the holiday weekend were not immediately available. That film, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard, had a solid $77 million opener last weekend.

On the all-time list, “X-Men: The Last Stand” ranks behind only “Spider-Man,” “Star Wars: Episode III” and “Shrek 2” for opening weekend gross. None of the other films opened on a holiday weekend, which usually gives movies a boost.

For Memorial Day openers, “X-Men” crushed the previous three-day high of $72 million, set by “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in 1997.

Final box-office figures were expected Monday.

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