''Shark Tale'' swims to the top of the box office -- The kids movie has the fifth-biggest debut for an animated film, while ''Ladder 49'' takes No. 2

By Dave Karger
Updated October 02, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

Strike up the puns: Shark Tale had a fin-tastic opening at the box office this weekend, grossing $49.1 million in its first three days, according to studio estimates.

Thanks to some better-than-expected reviews and the combined star power of voice cast members Will Smith, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, and Robert De Niro, the DreamWorks film scored the fifth-biggest debut ever for an animated film, behind Shrek 2 ($108 million), Finding Nemo ($70.3 million), Monsters, Inc. ($62.6 million), and Toy Story 2 ($57.4 million). For the record, it did top the first Shrek‘s opening tally of $42.3 million. But with only mixed critical response, Shark Tale will have trouble matching the staying power of those other smashes. And early word on the upcoming Pixar release The Incredibles is quite strong, so Shark Tale will only enjoy a short run in that all-time top-five club.

John Travolta’s drama Ladder 49 placed second with a respectable $22.8 million, thanks to positive reviews that highlighted the film’s accuracy in depicting the life of a firefighter. Julianne Moore’s thriller The Forgotten, meanwhile, slipped a decent 43 percent in its second weekend to $12 million, while Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Mr. 3000 rounded out the top five with $3.4 million and $2.6 million, respectively. After three weeks, their respective totals stand at only $30.7 million and $19.2 million, meaning they’re batting 0 for 2.

Ladder 49

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 115 minutes
  • Jay Russell