Although it had been widely predicted that the Night at the Museum and Terminator sequels would run a tight race at the box office this weekend, the Ben Stiller comedy sprinted far ahead of the virtually Arnold-less sci-fi flick. Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian took in $53.5 million, its studio, 20th Century Fox, estimated on Sunday, while Terminator Salvation earned $43 million. ( Daily Variety later estimated that the four-day holiday total for Museum would be $70 million and $53.83 million for Terminator .) The Ben Stiller comedy ran far ahead of the $30.4 million with which the original Night at the Museum debuted in 2006. But the Terminator movie sold far fewer tickets that 2003's Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines , which took in $44 million when tickets were less expensive. However, Warner Bros. pointed out that the latest entry in the Terminator franchise opened on Thursday, when it took in $13.4 million, bring the movie's four-day gross to $56.4 million. The real tight race of the weekend was waged for third place -- between Star Trek and Angels & Demons , with the Enterprise enterprise apparently winning out with about $22 million to the church thriller's $21.4 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian , $53.5 million; 2. Terminator Salvation , $43 million; 3. Star Trek , $22 million; 4. Angels & Demons , $21.4 million; 5. Dance Flick , $11.1 million; 6. X-Men Origins Wolverine , $7.8 million; 7. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, $3.7 million; 8. Obsessed , $2 million; 9. Monsters vs Aliens , $1.3 million; 10. 17 Again, $1 million.