In only its third weekend, Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (with vfx by Keith Vanderlaan's Captive Audience Prods.) passed MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING as the all-time indie box office champ, ringing in $32.1M for a total gross of $264.5M for Newmarket. That puts it fourth on the list of best third weekend performers, behind SPIDER-MAN, TITANIC, STAR WARS: EPISODE I -THE PHANTOM MENACE.
Sony's Johnny Depp thriller, SECRET WINDOW (with vfx by Camera e-Motion, Gray Matter FX, Keyframe Digital Prods. and Les Productions de l'Intrigue), debuted in second with $18.2M. Warner Bros.' STARSKY AND HUTCH dropped to third with $16M for a two-week cume of $51.5M. Disney's HIDALGO (with vfx by ILM) came in fourth with $11.8M and two-week gross of $35.6M. MGM's AGENT CODY BANKS 2: DESTINATION LONDON debuted in fifth place with $8M. Sony's 50 FIRST DATES drew the sixth spot with $5.4M and $106.7M to date. Paramount's TWISTED (with vfx by ILM) grabbed seventh with $3M and a total of $21.1M. Disney's CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN (with vfx by Intelligent Creatures) captured $2.4M and eighth place for a total of $24.9M. New Line's THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (with all those Oscar kudos for Weta Digital) hung around for number nine with $2M and $371M. And Warner Bros.' David Mamet thriller, SPARTAN, debuted in 10th place with $2M.
Meanwhile, NASCAR 3D: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE debuted at number 11 with an astounding $1.4M -- the best start ever for an IMAX original. The first IMAX 3D collaboration between Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX bowed in only 68 theaters for an a whopping per-screen average of $21,579. Box office information obtained from boxofficemojo.com.