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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Hitchhiker's tops US box office
Trillian, Marvin and Ford Prefect
Marvin the robot accompanies the hitchhiker across space
The long-awaited big screen adaptation of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy launched itself to the top of the North American box office at the weekend.

The movie, based on Douglas Adams' cult book, took $21.7m (14.2m) in its opening three days.

The much-hyped sequel XXX: State of the Union could only manage third place after another strong week from The Interpreter, which slipped to two.

The Interpreter took $14.2m (7.5m), while XXX took $13.7m (7.2m).

Despite the strong start from the Hitchhiker's film the North American box office is still struggling, with overall ticket sales falling for a 10th consecutive weekend.

"It's a pretty dismal situation right now," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

NORTH AMERICAN TOP FIVE
1. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2. The Interpreter
3. XXX: State of the Union
4. The Amityville Horror
5. Sahara
Source: Exhibitor Relations

"There just hasn't been anything to get the public excited."

It is hoped the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith on 19 May will boost cinema business.

The fourth most popular film of the weekend was the updated Amityville Horror, which has been roundly panned by critics.

It took $8.1m (4.3m) over the weekend.

In fifth spot was desert adventure Sahara, starring Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey, with takings of $4.6m (2.4m).

Higher hopes

The debut of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was hailed a success by producers Touchstone, which is owned by Disney.

"It's totally fresh and unlike anything in the marketplace right now," said Disney's executive Chuck Viane.

But there was disappointment with the impact of XXX, which sees rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube replace Vin Diesel in the lead role.

"We're disappointed," said Rory Bruer of distributors Sony.

"Up to the very end, we were very hopeful it would do better."


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