Box Office Breakdown: Memorial Day Weekend Helps Make Ben Stiller into a Superstar! Meanwhile, Terminator Salvation Disappoints

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Perhaps all that talk of a new Terminator trilogy should be put on the backburner for now. While Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was the big winner this Memorial Day weekend, grossing $70 million over the four-day holiday to pace the field, the real box office story is the tepid response to Terminator Salvation. The Christian Bale-headed franchise reboot finished a disappointing second, with “only” $53.8 million for the weekend and just $67.1 million since opening last Thursday, grosses which were not only below expectations, but portend financial troubles to come. As we do each Tuesday, here’s a breakdown of the top five at the box office.

1. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: $70 million ($70 million total)

The number to keep in mind here is seven; as in, when Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian crosses the $100 million barrier in the next two weeks, it will be the seventh $100 million grosser for Ben Stiller since 1998, and ninth if you count animated movies. By contrast, over that same time period, Brad Pitt had six such films, and Tom Cruise, eight. The simple fact is this: Ben Stiller is a huge movie star and no one seems to really notice. Battle of the Smithsonian represents the biggest live action opening of Mr. Stiller’s career and has an outside chance to be his third $200 million film before all is said and done.

2. Terminator Salvation: $53.8 million ($67.1 million total)

Each year it seems like at least one big budget spectacle gets offered to the box office gods as sacrifice for the excesses of the season. This year, that movie might well be Terminator Salvation. The highly publicized film failed to better the $72.4 million opening that the reviled Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines scored over July 4th weekend six years ago. Worse, people seem to actively dislike Terminator Salvation, as its daily grosses fell each day over the long weekend. At that rate, even topping the $107 million total gross of Watchmen seems like an iffy proposition. If we were Christian Bale, we’d be on the phone with Christopher Nolan right now trying to shore up Batman 3.

3. Star Trek: $29.4 million ($191 million total)

Star Trek is a smash. Another huge weekend puts the J.J. Abrams film within a couple of million dollars of topping Monsters vs. Aliens as the biggest hit of the year to date. And with nothing specifically tailored for the geek-set between now and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on June 24th, expect many more solid weekends to come. Scary thought: What kind of numbers will the sequel do?

4. Angels & Demons: $27.7 million ($87.8 million total)

Angels & Demons hasn’t been the runaway success that The Da Vinci Code was, but the sequel is showing solid legs mainly because it happens to be the only adult-themed movie at the box office. Also not hurting the bottom line for Sony is Angels & Demons’ $200 million gross in international receipts. This will go down on their ledger as a hit.

5. Dance Flick: $13.1 million ($13.1 million total)

The Wayans Family comedy edged out the fourth weekend of X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($10.1 million/$165.3 million total) for the fifth spot at the box office, with a total that has to be considered a disappointment; their last film, Little Man, opened with $21 million on its way to $56 million total. Don’t expect anything close to that final tally here. The lesson: Audiences love CGI man-babies but not CGI baby-babies!

Box Office Breakdown: Memorial Day Weekend Helps Make Ben Stiller into a Superstar! Meanwhile, Terminator Salvation Disappoints