Box office analysts were marveling over the estimated $44.5 million that Sony's Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage as the Marvel comics superhero, took in over the weekend. It was the most ever earned by a movie over the first three days of the President's Day holiday and was the most earned by any film in its debut this year. The film is expected to earn an additional $7 million today (Monday). The previous three-day record for the holiday was held by 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, which took in $39.9 million in 2004.) In an interview with today's Los Angeles Times, Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer observed that the film beat the studio's projections. "This played like a summer movie," he said. "It's got it all: excitement, action, humor and special effects." The film earned an additional $15.5 million overseas, he said. Disney's fantasy film Bridge to Terabithia also turned in a solid performance with $22.1 million as it captured the family audience. Last weekend's top film, Norbit, starring Eddie Murphy, slipped to third place with about $16.8 million. The romantic comedy Music & Lyrics, starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, added another $14 million to the $5.5 million that it had taken in since Valentine's Day on Wednesday to place fourth, while Lionsgate's Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls took in $12.1 million, placing fifth. Together, the top 12 films earned $141.4 million, 28 percent above last year's total for the comparable weekend.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Ghost Rider, $44.5 million; 2. Bridge to Terabithia, $22.1 million; 3. Norbit, $16.8 million; 4. Music and Lyrics, $14 million; 5. Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, $12.1 million; 6. Breach, $10.4 million; 7. Hannibal Rising, $5.5 million; 8. Because I Said So, $5 million; 9. The Messengers, $3.8 million; 10. Night at the Museum, $3.7 million.