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T3 Wins Independence; Nemo Passes Shrek and Sinbad Sputters

TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES may have won the Independence holiday box office race for Warner Bros., taking in $44M for the weekend and $72.3M for the five-day period (bolstered by the combined VFX of Industrial Light + Magic, Anatomorphex, Pacific Data Images, Pacific Titles & Optical and Stan Winston Studio), but the big story was FINDING NEMO. The Disney/Pixar blockbuster passed SHREK as the computer animation box office leader and THE MATRIX RELOADED as summer king. NEMO caught another $11M in the number four spot (down only 21% in its sixth weekend). That totals nearly $275M, surpassing SHREK's $267.6M. The big question that remains is whether NEMO has the fin power to overtake Disney's THE LION KING, which is the reigning animation leader at $312.8M?

Meanwhile, DreamWorks' SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS fared poorly in its debut at number six, with only $6.8M for the weekend and $10M for the five-day period. Whether it was the lack of drawing power of the legendary source material, the 2D stigma (though there is lots of CG elements) or just bad timing during a lackluster summer, SINBAD failed to lure enough repeat viewers away from NEMO.

Debuting at number two was LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE AND BLUE. The MGM sequel, with Reese Witherspoon reprising her sassy role and VFX supplied by Pixel Magic, hauled in $22.2M for the weekend and $38.5M for the five-day period. Dropping to third place was Sony's CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE (with Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage supplying the bulk of the VFX). The ANGELS took nearly a 63% hit with $14M for a total of $67M. Universal's THE HULK continued its downward spiral with $8.2M. The ILM VFX feast has earned $117M to date.

Fox Searchilight's U.K. zombie flick, 28 DAYS LATER (with VFX by Clear and The Moving Picture Co.), slipped to number seven with $6M. That's still good enough for a whopping $20.5M. Finishing in eighth place with $4.2M was Paramount's THE ITALIAN JOB, whose cume is now $83.8M. At number nine, BRUCE ALMIGHTY is running out of divine steam. The Jim Carrey God-induced comedy took in $4M for a hefty $228.6M to date. Universal's 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS dropped to number 10 with $2.6 M and a grand tally of $119.4 M. Crystal Dowd served as VFX producer and Collin Fowler was VFX coordinator for Illusion Arts. Box office information obtained from