Nicolas Cage topped the North American box office for the second time this year on Sunday with "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," a sequel to the biggest movie of his career.
The action-adventure led a crowded field of high-powered newcomers to sell an estimated $45.5 million worth of tickets since opening Friday, distributor Walt Disney Pictures said.
The three-day sum, which was in line with expectations, compares with a $35 million launch for 2004's "National Treasure," which went on to make $173 million. Cage spent two weeks at No. 1 in February with "Ghost Rider," which started with $45 million on its way to $116 million.
Last weekend's champion, the Will Smith sci-fi thriller "I Am Legend," slipped to No. 2 with $34.2 million, taking the 10-day haul for the Warner Bros. release to $137.5 million.
The Twentieth Century Fox kids movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks," was also down one spot, to No. 3 with $29 million, and a 10-day total of $84.7 million.
New releases took four of the next five places, but none cracked the $10 million mark: the fact-based political comedy "Charlie Wilson's War" at No. 4 with $9.6 million, the Johnny Depp musical "Sweeney Todd" at No. 5 with $9.35 million, the Hilary Swank romance "P.S. I Love You" at No. 6 with a modest $6.5 million, and the musical biopic spoof "Walk Hard: The
Dewey Cox Story" at No. 8 with a disappointing $4.1 million.
Additionally, the teen comedy "Juno" rose one place to No. 10 in its third weekend of limited release with $3.4 million.
The Fox Searchlight release, starring Canadian actress Ellen Page, has earned $6.4 million to date.
Along with the bloody musical adaptation "Sweeney Todd" and "Charlie Wilson's War," which stars Oscar laureates Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a stranger-than-fiction tale of political intrigue, "Juno" is an early awards-season favorite.
Walt Disney Pictures is a unit of Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Pictures, which also released "P.S. I Love You," is a unit of Time Warner. Fox and Fox Searchlight
are units of News Corp .
"Sweeney Todd" was released by DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, both units of Viacom. "Charlie Wilson's War" was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric's NBC Universal, also the parent of CNBC. "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" was released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony.