June 11, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Despite an unmagical 63 percent drop in its second weekend, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” managed to hold on to the top spot at the box office this weekend.

“Azkaban,” the third Harry Potter film, plummeted from its $93.7 million debut down to only $35.1 million, according to studio estimates. By comparison, the first two Potter films dropped 36 percent and 52 percent, respectively. So after scoring the biggest opening weekend of the three, “Azkaban,” which contains the scariest scenes to date, could end up the lowest grosser of the series.

Vin Diesel’s sequel “The Chronicles of Riddick” also seemed to underperform, premiering with $24.6 million. Though it certainly is an improvement over the $11.6 million its predecessor, “Pitch Black,” earned in 2000. Close behind was “Shrek 2,” which slipped 37 percent in its fourth weekend to $24 million. Its total now stands at $354 million, making it the highest-grossing animated film of all time and the No. 9 top grosser overall. At this rate it should become only the fourth film ever to earn over $400 million in its inital run, after “Titanic,” “The Phantom Menace,” and “Spider-Man.”

Nicole Kidman’s comedic remake of the cult classic “The Stepford Wives” placed fourth with a respectable $22.2 million, thanks to the combined star power of its cast (which also includes Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, and Bette Midler) and its standing as one of the few comedies so far this summer. But it came awfully close to being trumped by “Garfield: The Movie,” which defied its horrible reviews and debuted with $21.7 million, much higher than my projection. So I hereby offer my apologies for underestimating that kitty.

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