March 11, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

It may not have done well enough to make any sort of box office history, but Roland Emmerich’s caveman adventure 10,000 BC easily beat out a weak field of rivals to finish at No. 1 for the weekend.

The prehistoric action flick grossed $35.7 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. On the positive side, 10,000 BC scored a strong $10,478 per-theater average — or, depending on how you look at the numbers, an average of $3,570 per year before Christ. (That’s also, like most of the rest of this week’s returns, almost exactly what I predicted. Woot!) Additionally, the film did more than two-and-a-half-times better than its next closest box office opponent.

But there is a substantial negative side here. For one thing, this bloated would-be blockbuster failed to have a blockbuster debut. It didn’t come close to breaking any records — on the weekend (remember 300‘s huge bow a year ago) or in Emmerich’s career (this film’s first-weekend total pales in comparison to the $85.8 mil opening for The Day After Tomorrow or even the $55.7 mil opening for Godzilla) — and it enjoyed only about the fifth-best March premiere ever. More troubling, though, is 10,000 BC‘s bad CinemaScore of C, coming from a crowd of mostly older men — a nearly certain sign that it will have trouble holding strong in the weeks to come. International box office figures have yet to be reported, but it’s clear that any hopes this film has of making a mint in the multiplex must focus abroad.

Way back at No. 2, Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symoné’s College Road Trip opened with a decent $14 mil, a total that’s a hair below expectations. Still, the G-rated family comedy earned a nice A- CinemaScore review (its crowd was mostly young women, no surprise), so it could hang around for a while. Holdovers Vantage Point (No. 3 with $7.5 mil) and Semi-Pro (which came in at No. 4 with a $5.8 mil gross on a steep 62 percent drop) were next. And the well-reviewed London heist thriller The Bank Job rounded out the top five with a bloody-okay $5.7 mil deposit.

Meanwhile, few of the weekend’s smaller openers banked much at all. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (No. 11) chuckled up $2.5 mil in 535 locations, while the limited-release indies Married Life ($4,043 average in nine theaters) and Snow Angels ($7,000 average in two venues) were utter nonfactors.

Overall, the cumulative box office take was off more than 28 percent from 300‘s big frame a year ago, making this the fifth consecutive ”down” weekend of the season. Yep, on a day when we turned our clocks forward an hour, you can bet that there are a lot of people in Hollywood who wish that we could flip the calendar back a whole year.

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