Mutants Muster More Than Murphy
X2: X-Men United was divided by two in its second weekend, but was still able to fend off a strong showing by the Eddie Murphy family comedy Daddy Day Care.

Fox's $110 million Marvel Comics adaptation pulled in $40,032,160 at 3,749 theaters over the weekend for a whopping 10-day tally of $147,677,021. Sony's Daddy Day Care came in at $27,623,580 from 3,370 venues.

"This is what I was hoping for," Fox distribution chief Bruce Snyder told Box Office Mojo. "I was thinking we'd be in the $40 million range."

Though X2's 53% drop is precipitous, it's hold actually was stronger than the first movie, demonstrating how the franchise's audience has broadened since its 2000 big screen debut. X-Men tumbled 57% in its second weekend to $23,468,649 for a 10-day total of $99,318,708 on its way to its $157,299,717 final gross.

On this same frame last year, Spider-Man dipped just 38% from its record-shattering $114,844,116 debut to $71,417,527, the largest second weekend ever. It had $223,040,031 in the bank after 10 days. But Spidey was the exception. In recent years, the old adage "the bigger they are the harder they fall" has been the rule. For instance, the summer 2001 opener The Mummy Returns fell 50% in its sophomore session after its massive $68,139,035 bow.

X2 faced stiffer albeit well counter-programmed competition in the form of Daddy Day Care. Traditionally, studios take a slight breather on this frame by opening more modest fare before the summer onslaught.

"This is a stronger marketplace than usual," Snyder noted. "It's a different world when the No. 2 picture does $27 million. That gross would usually be No. 1. Last year's No. 2 was Unfaithful at $14 million."

To put X2 in further perspective, its second weekend was comparable to the $40,310,419 first weekend that Marvel and Fox stable mate Daredevil posted earlier this year.

Spider-Man scaled to a record 3,876 theaters in its fourth weekend, but don't expect X2 to follow suit, despite its standing as the widest opening weekend release ever at 3,741 theaters.

"We kind of ran out of places to show it," Snyder explained. "I don't know how we got the extra eight theaters this weekend. I don't know how Sony got Spider-Man that wide, but God bless them for it."

X2 crossed the $100 million on Wednesday, its 6th day of release, making it one of the fastest movies ever to reach that milestone. Only five other movies did it in fewer days—Spider-Man (3 days), Attack of the Clones (4 days), The Phantom Menace (5 days), the first Harry Potter (5) and The Two Towers (5).

On Saturday, X2 ended Bringing Down the House's reign as the highest grossing movie of 2003. The Steve Martin comedy has brought in $128,659,231. It's been the year of comedy and superheroes so far as the three other pictures to cross the century mark are Anger Management, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Daredevil. At this point last year, only Spider-Man and Ice Age had joined the $100 million club.

At it's current trajectory, X2 could end up with around $220 million by the end of its run.

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