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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Kingdom of Heaven tops US chart
Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of Heaven is Hollywood's latest historical epic
Kingdom of Heaven, starring Orlando Bloom, has gone straight to the top of North American box office chart.

Sir Ridley Scott's movie, which depicts the 12th Century battle between Christians and Muslims, took an estimated $20m (10.5m) at the weekend.

It helped push last week's number one, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, into third place, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Horror film The House of Wax, starring Paris Hilton, was number two.

But the takings were not enough to lift Hollywood out of its current box office slump.

Paris Hilton in House of Wax
1. Kingdom of Heaven, $20m
2. House of Wax (above), $12.2m
3=. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, $9.1m
3=. Crash $9.1m
5. The Interpreter, $7.5m
Friday-Sunday. Source: Exhibitor Relations
Takings for the last 11 weekends have been down compared with the same period last year.

Kingdom of Heaven's $20m is seen as a poor performance for one of the summer's first blockbusters.

In the same weekend in previous years, Van Helsing took $52m, X2: X-Men United made $86m and Spider-Man opened with $115m in 2002.

"It was quite an underwhelming week," said Exhibitor Relations president Paul Dergarabedian.

"This is theoretically the first weekend of the summer and it doesn't feel like one."

But the film's studio Fox said it was "delighted" with the performance given its two-and-a-half hour running time, R rating and $56m (29.7m) takings outside North America.

The slump is expected to end next weekend when the final Star Wars film, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, hits screens.

"Believe me, when Star Wars comes out, people will drop everything and come to the theatre," Mr Dergarabedian said.



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