By David Germain
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - Movie-goers took Ben Affleck up on his latest dare.
Affleck's Daredevil, a big-budget gamble on a comic-book character more obscure than Spider-Man or X-Men, paid off nicely with a $43.5 million weekend debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, fell to second place but held strongly with $19 million, pushing its 10-day total to $47.7 million. The Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey romance got a boost from Valentine's Day audiences Friday.
Riding the wave of its leading 13 Academy Awards nominations last week, the musical Chicago expanded to more theaters and took in $12.6 million, remaining in third place and pushing its two-month total to $80.7 million.
Disney's animated sequel The Jungle Book 2 opened in fourth place with $11.9 million.
The overall box office shot up, with the top 12 movies taking in $130.1 million, a 22 percent increase over President's Day weekend last year.
Best-picture nominee The Hours expanded to 1,003 theaters, up 454, and took in $3.3 million. The Virginia Woolf-related drama pushed its total to $26 million since opening in limited release in late December.
Also nominated for best picture, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers grossed $3.45 million, virtually unchanged from the previous weekend. The blockbuster fantasy has taken in $325.3 million.
The dark comedy About Schmidt took in $3.55 million, with a total gross of $53.1 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Tuesday.
1. Daredevil, $43.5 million.
2. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, $19 million.
3. Chicago, $12.6 million.
4. The Jungle Book 2, $11.9 million.
5. Shanghai Knights, $11.4 million.
6. The Recruit, $6.8 million.
7. Final Destination 2, $6.2 million.
8. Deliver Us From Eva, $4.4 million.
9. Kangaroo Jack, $4 million.
10. About Schmidt, $3.55 million.
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