By David Germain
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - Disney was rolling in doubloons as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl plundered the box office for $46.4 million in its first weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc., estimates.
Based on the Disney theme-park attraction, the movie starring Johnny Depp had taken in $70.4 million since opening Wednesday, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Debuting in second place was Sean Connery's literary superhero adventure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which had a $23.25 million opening weekend. Connery stars as Victorian-era adventurer Allan Quatermain leading a team of characters lifted from literature, including Dorian Gray, Capt. Nemo and Dr. Jekyll.
Pirates of the Caribbean commandeered the box-office lead from the previous weekend's No. 1 flick, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which fell to third place with $19.6 million. Terminator 3 pushed its 12-day total to $110.5 million.
Overall box-office revenues were up slightly, ending a string of four down weekends. The top 12 movies grossed $140 million, up 3.5 percent from the same weekend last year.
For the year, Hollywood receipts are running about 5 percent behind 2002 revenues.
Pirates of the Caribbean stars Depp as a rascally pirate on a quest to retrieve his stolen ship from his first mate (Geoffrey Rush) and a crew of cursed mutineers who turn into skeletons in moonlight.
A staple in Errol Flynn's days, pirate movies had fallen on hard times in Hollywood with such modern bombs as Cutthroat Island and Treasure Planet.
"Everybody had said pirate movies were cursed. The curse is officially over," said Chuck Viane, Disney head of distribution.
The top 10
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, $46.4 million.
2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, $23.25 million.
3. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, $19.6 million.
4. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, $12 million.
5. Finding Nemo, $8.2 million.
6. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, $7.3 million.
7. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, $4.6 million.
8. 28 Days Later, $4.25 million.
9. The Hulk, $3.7 million.
10. The Italian Job, $2.8 million.
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