[Updated: Including Monday, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian took in $70 million, while Terminator Salvation took in $53.8 million Friday through Monday.]
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian sold an estimated $53.5 million worth of tickets during the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which began Friday, far exceeding the $30.4 million debut of its 2006 predecessor for the top spot, defeating Terminator Salvation, the Reuters news service reported.
The fourth Terminator Salvation took in a disappointing $43.0 million, short of the $44 million start for the previous entry in the series, 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
But the race between the two new sequels was closer than it appeared because Warner Brothers got a head start on the Memorial Day holiday weekend by opening Terminator on Thursday, when it earned about $13.4 million. That takes the film's four-day total to $56.4 million.
Time Warner-owned Warner said Terminator was likely more affected by competition for older men from the National Basketball Association playoffs, which hurt business in cities such as Los Angeles.
The Night at the Museum opening set a new live-action record for Stiller. The film also opened in most international markets, earning $50.5 million.
Last weekend's North American champion, Angels & Demons, slipped to fourth place with $21.4 million, taking the 10-day total for Columbia Pictures' Tom Hanks religious thriller to $81.5 million, BoxOfficeMojo reported.
Star Trek came in third place, with an estimated $21.9 million, for a total so far of $183.6 million.