By Adam Markovitz
May 17, 2009 at 10:10 PM EDT

Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons soared to a $48 million opening this weekend, narrowly edging out a stellar $43 million second-week performance by Star Trek, according to estimates by Box Office.

addCredit(“Zade Rosenthal”)

While hardly miraculous, Angels‘ solid bow is the second-best opening of Tom Hanks’ career, behind The Da Vinci Code‘s $77.1 million debut in 2006. Despite receiving better reviews than its predecessor, Angels was widely expected to fly lower than Da Vinci on account of the cooled-off controversy over the religious subject matter in Dan Brown’s novels. Still, the books’ worldwide infamy should guarantee returns of biblical proportions; Da Vinci grossed $758.2 million globally, and Angels has already racked up an additional $104.3 million from foreign territories.

Angels may also have had its wings clipped slightly by J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, which dropped a slim 46% in its second weekend—presumably thanks to good word of mouth about the well-reviewed film. A $43 million weekend haul means that the space saga has already reaped $147.6 million, making it the year’s fourth highest-grossing movie after just eleven days in theaters.

Following a steep 69% percent slump last weekend, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (No. 3 with $14.8 million) recovered a bit, dipping just 44% percent to reach a cumulative gross of $151.1 million after three weekends.

Faring even better, Matthew McConaughey’ s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (No. 4 with $6.9 million) and the Beyoncé-Ali Larter thriller Obsessed (No. 5 with $4.6 million) dropped off just 33 and 31 percent, respectively. These mid-budget genre pics have shown surprising resilience against the tide of blockbusters, demonstrating a strong market for counter-programming.

The weekend boasted only two other high profile pics, both in limited release. Jennifer Aniston’s Management got a pink slip from moviegoers, grossing just $378,420 from 212 screens for a measly per-screen average of $1,785. Meanwhile, the caper comedy The Brothers Bloom was a bright spot on the specialty side, ringing up $82,000 from four theaters for a $20,500 per-theater haul.

Just two weekends into the summer movie season, overall box office is up 16% over last year. And things are just heating up: Next week’s Memorial Day double-header of Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian promises a weekend to remember at the multiplex. See you then!

More Box Office News:
‘Angels & Demons’ uncovers a $16.6 million box office haul on Friday
Box Office Preview: ‘Angels & Demons’ prays for a weekend win
Star Trek soars with $72.5 mil debut
Wolverine opens with an impressive $87 million’s Box Office Chart